You have graduated from college and have been looking for a job for a few months. Since you were wise and avoided 8 am classes like the plague and have no daily routine at the moment, your sleeping schedule of going to bed at 2 am and waking up at 10 am is not in sync with that of corporate America. One day, you get a rude wake up call at 8:30 am. It is a company interested in hiring you. However, you are shocked to find out that they expect you to be at the plant at 6:45 am each day! Today is Tuesday, you start on Thursday, how can you get your sleeping schedule kicked into a new gear?

Let me say, it is better and healthier to gradually change your sleeping schedule over time, however, if a situation like this one arises, that is not an option. This is the state I found myself in August of 2002. The following is a list of what I did to rapidly change my sleeping schedule. I am not medical doctor, I am an electrical engineer, so take my advice with a grain of salt. However, it helped me out and successfully allowed me to arise at the ungodly hour of 6 am.

First off, wake up early the day before. Go to bed at your regular time two nights prior, but make an estimate of what time you need to wake up in order to get dressed and arrive at work on time. Set your alarm clock for an hour after this estimate. In this example, I went to bed at 2 am and woke up at 7 am. This will make you feel like crap, but since you have nothing pressing this day, it is OK. Get out of the house and start collecting things you will need for your new job and drive to it to make sure you know the course thoroughly. If you already have everything you need, then get out and go shopping, wash your car, whatever, the important thing is to get out and do something. You will look at your watch and think “I thought only the army could get this much done before noon.” The whole point of this is to get yourself started towards your new waking hour. Getting out of the house will ensure that you do not lax back into bed or fall into a routine daze like you did in your classes, and it will help you feel tired at an earlier hour that night.

Stay away from caffeine. Do not drink, eat, or otherwise ingest any of the drug. It will increase your heart rate thus making it more difficult to settle down for bed at the new time. I know some people say they have built up a tolerance to caffeine. However, I would suggest playing it safe and avoiding the substance altogether.

Turns the lights off. Your body reacts to darkness and will produce more melatonin when the lights go out. Therefore, there is a scientific, physiological reason why you get tired at night. To use this to your advantage, determine how much sleep you should get, ascertain the time you need to get up and calculate what time you need to be asleep. At least one hour before this calculated time, turn off the lights, lie down and watch a television show you like or put in a movie. Just make sure you do not watch anything that would get you excited or frightened and the ending time of the program corresponds with the time you want to be in bed. TiVo makes this easy. When the show ends, you should be nice and sleepy and ready for bed. Just make sure to set your alarm.

Wake your ass up. Eventually, sooner than you expect or want, the alarm will sound. Get out of bed before turning off the alarm so as not to fall into the trap of “Just five more minutes.” During this time, the philosophical portion of your brain will start to derive arguments why you should remain in/go back to bed. Some examples are: “The sun is not up yet, why should you be?” and “Only the Devil would make you get up this early, you don’t want to follow the Devil do you?” Ignore these thoughts and rush to the shower. Now you are in the home stretch. If you gauged your time correctly, then you should be on time for your first day. Repeat the previous two steps for the next few days and all should go well.

Note: if you are afflicted by sleep apnea all bets are off

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