Photo by splityarn

I abhor waking up. Every morning, I silence the first of my iPhone’s three alarms (set for 5:30, 5:45, and 6 a.m., thanks to the fact that I work East Coast hours from the West Coast), bend myself reluctantly out of bed, pick crud out of my eyes, and try to convince myself that today is going to be the day I become a morning person. It never works, though—in part, I suspect, because I’ve never learned the proper methods.

The big lesson of wake-up science is that one person’s perfect morning is another person’s hell. (Lady Gaga, for instance, has said that she does five minutes of meditation every morning. If I tried that, I’d be snoozing by minute two.) But with some effort and careful attention to what makes you feel alert and awake, waking up can go from painful to—well, not pleasant, exactly, but certainly tolerable. By the end of my experiment, I noticed that I was able to do more of my work in the mornings, leaving my afternoons more relaxed. And while my sleep inertia hasn’t disappeared altogether, it’s been cut down dramatically. Waking up for me used to be like turning around a battleship. Now, it’s like turning around a tugboat—not simple, certainly, but not the giant ordeal it once was.

-If you’re like me, “get up on time” is your New Year’s resolution, year after year. In this installment of his Self-Bettering series for Matter, Kevin Roose tries to do the impossible: become a morning person. Thanks to an experimental combination of alarm clocks, caffeine, music and more, he does.

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