How to Wake Up

In elementary school, particularly in fifth and sixth grade, I felt cool when I got up early. I would imagine I was finally in middle school, waking up before seven and strutting out to the bus stop like the world was my own. After one month of seventh grade, my outlook changed drastically. For the first time, I understood true exhaustion–being glued to my bed in the morning, struggling to hold my eyes open, desperately wanting to collapse into a ball of slumber, regardless of the situation or context. I woke up at 6 in the morning, got on the bus, and went to school from 7:50 to 2:40. Monday through Friday, rain or shine. It was a lot for a growing twelve-year-old kid.

It’s been four years now. Nothing has really changed, because secondary school is what it is. However, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that have helped me bear the weight of morning exhaustion.

  1. Coffee. I bring it to school every morning (except Chemistry, because I can’t eat or drink in the lab). It’s helped me immensely. I used to hate it, but I eventually I adapted. I’m sixteen and I drink coffee every morning. Oh God. But, in all seriousness, I would consider caffeine. Everybody says it’s bad–maybe it is–but at least it keeps you awake enough to function.
  2. Exercise. You don’t have to be one of those freak-of-nature superhumans who goes for runs at 5 in the morning (I’m teasing, by the way). I walk to school, so that helps, but even five jumping jacks can do the trick for those of you who don’t. Just a few honestly makes a world of difference.
  3. Set your alarm earlier. It sounds counterproductive, but having the power to hit snooze a couple times actually feels empowering. It’s a lot easier to get up once you’ve gotten a little warning than having to force yourself up immediately.
  4. Change your alarm sound frequently. If you have an iPhone, there are plenty of different alarm tones. Switch it up. Waking up to the same old thing can get really annoying. When you change it up, you at least get a little surprise.
  5. Eat breakfast. Everyone says it’s good for you, and that’s true, but I say it for different reasons. I suggest it for the sensory appeal. Nothing is more motivating to get out of bed than something delicious. Buy a new cereal. Have someone make you waffles. Anything.
  6. Keep a water bottle on or next to your bed. Dump it on yourself when your alarm goes off.
  7. Listen to music as you get ready. Choose something motivating and upbeat. My personal favorite is BO$$ by Fifth Harmony. It’s catchy.
  8. Push yourself off the pillow. This is the first strategy I ever discovered. Exhausted, twelve-year-old me would put her hands on the pillow, push down really hard, and use the momentum created from the push to sit up. Sitting up is half the battle.
  9. Don’t think about going back to sleep. This is the most important of all, I think. It’s so easy for me to fantasize about curling up under a mound of thick, feather comforters, or imagining my mom walking into my room saying, “School’s been delayed by two hours because it’s 55 degrees out, and 55 isn’t an even number,” but reality doesn’t work that way. The morning is the morning. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with it.

Find out what works for you and stick with it. If you have trouble falling asleep, stay tuned, because I’ll be writing on that shortly.
Happy morning! We’re all in this together. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s struggling just as much as you are. Stay alert and stay strong.

Go To Sleep

Your mind is running in circles, tangling itself into a tight ball of anxious what-ifs. Your eyes are full of hot tears. The world snarls at you with menacing teeth. Problems loom over you like black clouds in front of jagged mountains.

Just go to sleep.

Go to sleep. Nothing seems beautiful when you’re out of bed at three in the morning, wrapped in a blanket and sobbing over a failed paper. Your brain is fooling you tonight. Close your eyes and watch this wretched night fade away into the abyss of time. I promise that it won’t seem so scary in the morning. Tomorrow, this won’t plague you. Tomorrow, you’ll take a deep breath and realize how much lighter your mind is. There’ll be a fresh spring in your step, one that can only be granted by a new dawn. The world still turns around and around, waltzing with the stars above you. The sun still smiles; the wind still breathes. And so will you.

At four in the morning…

Today and tomorrow, and then the quarter is over. That’s all I have to get through. Then I’m rewarded with a four-day weekend. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

No. It’s not simple. If it were simple, I wouldn’t have stayed up this entire night staring at the wall and eating bananas. I wouldn’t be trying to bag up all my stray thoughts to throw out for the night. I wouldn’t be working on a freaking French project at four in the morning. 

How will I possibly have all the energy necessary to make it through the day? School starts in just over three hours. I can’t go to sleep. I tried that, and I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind is too shot to do anymore homework. Maybe I’ll stare at that picture-perfect smile of mine from over a year ago, the one that needs to be taken out of its frame already. I could always eat another banana. My stomach is rumbling again. 

I obviously can’t write. Even my basic grasp of grammar has leaked out the holes stress and exhaustion have blown in my mind. I am so burnt out. First quarter of freshman year, and I’m already about as worn as a dirty dish rag. 

Just two days, I tell myself. Only fourteen hours of school until the four-day weekend. It seems like so much, though. How could I possibly be this exhausted after just a few months into the school year? This has never happened before. If high school is this hard, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it.