I have a confession to make. Even though I’ve ridden my whole life and am totally capable of waking up at 6 a.m., 5 a.m., 4 a.m., etc. when I have to…it’s possibly my least favorite part of the equestrian lifestyle. When I don’t have to be at the barn at a particular time I am a champion sleeper, so even though I know it will be worth it, sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to fit in an early-morning ride or to do some weekend show day volunteering.
Through trial and error I have discovered a few wake up hacks that work for me:
Don’t fall into the multiple alarms/snooze button trap. You WILL train yourself to ignore your alarm, and like me, you will become a champion sleeper capable of continuing whatever dream you were having even after running across the room to hit snooze.
Find a really annoying alarm clock app. My personal favorite is Carrot, which wakes you up with a sarcastic robot that becomes increasingly enraged the longer you sleep in, and makes you do tasks like vigorously shaking your phone. The only downside is that (if you have an iPhone) you need to set this app every night and keep your phone plugged in. Walk Me Up is another one I have personally tried—it forces you to take a certain number of steps each morning to shut off the alarm.
Do something you like first thing in the morning. It’s easy to wake up when it’s a show day…not so much when it’s just your regular old routine. Trick your brain into being excited to start the day by doing something fun. It could be something as simple as a few minutes of entertainment via Instagram.
Set everything out for yourself the night before. Before I’ve had my coffee, I move at the speed of a lame Clydesdale, so I’m a lot more likely to be late if I try and do “normal people” things like make coffee or pick out clothes. Instead, I schedule my coffeemaker, pack up anything I might need in my car, and set out my clothes the night before if I need to do something early.
Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true advice of planning your REM sleep cycle, getting the same number of hours of sleep every night, not having any screen time an hour before sleeping, etc. But let’s be real here—if you don’t like waking up, you’re not going to change your entire life around to do something you hate. But maybe just making a few simple changes could make your morning a little easier, and give you a little more leeway in your schedule for pony time.