Saturday, December 16, 2006

The experiment continues

In a previous post, I discussed how applying a miniscule amount of thought to the problem of stalling the car served to provide me with a solution. I want to start using this approach a lot more. My new target: mornings.

I'm fundamentally bad at mornings. Generally my brain doesn't really wake up until at least a couple of hours in. That's why, for my new job, I've been getting up earlier than strictly necessary, with the aim of getting into work half an hour before it actually starts. That way I don't need to feel guilty if all I'm good for for said half hour is reading a book.

It also provides a useful buffer against oversleeping, and allows me to notice whether I'm starting to slip up before it becomes an issue. That warning light is currently flashing.

The desired timeline is: get up at 6:30, leave the house at 7:20, get into work at 8:00 for an official start of 8:30. Redundancy is built into this approach at two points: the long period before I have to leave the house, and the half hour that I'm early by. It's the former of these that's starting to be a problem. The short version is: I keep sleeping on until about 6:45. I don't like it.

This quarter of an hour represents an interesting issue of quality. Whilst it's actually fairly unnecessary as far as scheduling is concerned, it's vitally important to me as a representation of my commitment to professionalism at work. If I lose that momentum, I'll be headed straight down the extremely slippery slope to becoming a complete slob.

What's supposed to happen is that I get woken up by the alarm, turn it off, get out of bed and get in the shower. What's actually happening is that I get woken up, turn the alarm off, and fall asleep again. I usually wake up again in under 20 minutes - my subconscious apparently knows that that's the point at which I do actually need to get up. I have a very constraint-driven subconscious. I wish I could make it more goal-driven, but that's not a viable solution in the short term.

In the brainstorming process, I've come up with the following broad categories of idea:
1) Make myself less likely to sleep past the alarm
2) Make the alarm less easy to sleep past
3) Mitigate the effects of sleeping past the alarm

The concrete ideas on the table for idea 1 are:
a) Get more sleep (i.e. get to bed earlier)
b) Figure out ways to make my sleep more re-energising (e.g. exercise before bed, fine-tune the bedroom temperature, get a new mattress, etc)
c) Figure out ways to trick my body into thinking it's been re-energised (e.g. attempt to fine-tune my bedtime so that at 6:30 I'm in REM sleep)

For idea 2:
a) Make the alarm require a bit more thought and/or effort to turn off (e.g. put it on the other side of the room, find an alarm which is trickier to disable, etc)
b) Increase the alarm's impact (e.g. make it louder, make it more intrusive, wire electrodes to it and attach them to my body, etc)

For idea 3:
a) Set the alarm earlier
b) Set more than one alarm

Of these, 1a is already being played to the hilt (although I should definitely keep in mind the importance of early nights). 1c is probably intractable in the short term, although at some point I might want to review the relevant scientific literature. 2b is probably undesirable - loud alarms wake the family, annoying alarms leave me feeling disgruntled all morning, electrodes leave burn marks etc. 3a is rather incompatible with the goal of 1a. That leaves 1b, 2a, and 3b.

I therefore propose the following response:
- Try exercising before bed
- Actually bother to learn how to operate the thermostat
- Investigate the comparative softnesses of various matresses, and attempt to estimate how they would affect my sleep
- Relocate the existing alarm
- Investigate getting a more complicated alarm (possibly as a second alarm)

Hopefully this'll all have the desired effect.

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