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Best & Worst Ways You Can Wake Up

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

best and worst ways to wake up

29 April 2024 14 min read

Good sleep is so important for our health, mood and the general state of wellbeing. But what about when we wake up? This moment is also quite important for our energy level, mood and motivation. So, in this article, we are going to talk about things that make waking up a terrible experience, and things that make it a pleasant one. Also, in the end, we are going to give you some tips on how to avoid unpleasant wake-ups.

Before all that, let’s ask ourselves why does the way we wake up have such a strong influence on our mind and even on the rest of our day? As we will see, it’s because the state of waking up is very delicate and prone to outer stimulants. Our brain processes information during waking up differently than it does during the state of full awareness.

This even means that the way we wake up can have a big impact on our mood during the whole morning or day. When we wake up we “translate” certain stimulants into emotions more strongly than we otherwise would. When we are half-awake we are really serious about this!

So, without further ado, let’s find out which morning experiences can be translated into negative, and which can be translated into positive emotions!

The worst ways you can wake up

We all had bad mornings. Something annoying wakes you up and ruins your day. But why does this happen? Why can some outer stimulant have such a strong influence on our mood?

Well, it’s because our brain is in a special, delicate, sensitive state during the wake-up process. During these moments we are actually more sensitive to sounds, smells or even imagery. The consequences of stressful experience during waking up can “stick” with us hours through the day. So, let’s see what makes waking up unpleasant!

worst ways to wake up in the morning

Going to bed late

Leaving less than 6 hours of sleep can lead to waking up during the “wrong” cycle. When you wake up during deep sleep cycles you can feel groggy, drowsy and moody. So, if you go to bed later than you should, you can actually time your alarm to buzz just right in the middle of the deep sleep cycle.

Being woken up by loud, strong or sharp sound

Now, this is one of the most stressful things for a sleeping brain. Loud sounds can really deeply startle you when you are in your sleeping state, especially if you are in your deep sleep cycles. When we are asleep we are much more sensitive to stressful stimulants. But you don’t always need loud sound in order to reach this unpleasant state. Whispers actually have a strong unpleasant effect on our sleeping brain.

Waking up to a negative realization or imagery

When you are in your delicate state of waking up you are more sensitive to imagery, not just sound. Witnessing something upsetting just upon waking up can be a really stressful experience. We can deal with stimulants when we are still half awake in the same way as when we are fully awake.

Waking up with stressful thoughts

Worries don’t trouble us just when we are awake. They trouble us in our dreams and in those precious moments on waking up when we need a smooth and gentle way to slide into the new day. Waking up with worries or stressful thoughts can affect not just our mood, but the way we transit into full consciousness.

Waking up to things that we associate as purposeless or meaningless

So, humans really love two things: sense of purpose and sense of being in control. One of the most annoying ways to start the day is by realizing that you just woke up to something that is pointless to you and plus, not by your own will! It’s in our nature to have a joy in feeling that we control certain aspects of our lives. So, if we realise that someone else woke us up when we didn’t want to, and even worse, for something that doesn’t have any meaning to us, we can get into a really bad mood.

Why do we wake up groggy and restless?

Since we talked about the theory of what things make us wake up in a terrible way, let’s talk about practice. What are the real-life occasions that bring those awful stimulants that make our morning terrible? Let’s count down 10 worst ways to begin your day!

an image of a woman waking up groggy and drinking a cup of coffee

Waking up with a cold

This can be really a bad and deeply annoying way to wake up. Opening your eyes to the feeling of flu, running nose, dry mouth, sore throat and all of the other ‘nice’ things that cold has to offer, certainly is a terrible way to start your day.

Waking up with a headache

When you are woken up by a strong headache, your day is pretty much ruined already. Unfortunately, many people are quite familiar with this feeling.

You forgot to turn off your alarm on weekend

This can be a really irritating experience, and, unfortunately it can happen quite often. So, it’s Saturday at last, you went to bed happy because you are going to sleep in, but, your annoying alarm goes of at the crack of dawn. This can be one of those moments when you are sincerely and deeply angry with yourself.

Waking up hungover

So, this is one of the profoundly unpleasant ways to wake up. Opening your eyes, the morning after a party can be followed by so many unpleasant things. The list can be very long… From feeling nauseous or having a headache to panicky looking for your phone or wallet just to make sure that they survived the night can be a very unpleasant way to start the day. But, as wise men of the Ancient Greek said, the joy must be balanced out with equal suffer.

Waking up to sounds of your dog trashing a place

This is very familiar sound for many pet parents. Waking up to the sound of your dog viciously attacking the trash can or starting the epic battle with their archenemy (the couch) can be quite irritating. But, we guess that is the price for all of the great moments that dogs give us in life.

The fire/car alarm goes off

You know that beautiful sound when your neighbor’s car alarm goes off with the first rays of sunlight, and it just wont stop? And when you just think to yourself: “Oh, thank heavens, it’s finally over,” but it starts again? This situation really does deserve a special place on our list. And, don’t forget that when your fire alarm just decides to go off with no apparent reason.

Your roommate forgot the key (again)

This can be one of those situations when you start questioning your love for that person. It can get even worse if your roommate is just coming back from a night out, slightly tipsy, ringing the bell at 3 AM on a workday.

Some promoters are buzzing on your door

So, someone is buzzing, you get up, get decent, fix your hair, wondering who it could be. You open the door just to see some folks promoting the thing you couldn’t be less interested in. Really a great way to have your morning ruined. And, of course, let’s not forget friends who like to call at the crack of dawn just to say: “Hey, are you sleeping?”

“No, Susan, I’m practicing juggling on a Saturday morning.”

Your not-so-talented neighbour just got a sudden urge to practice for band

We all probably had at some point in life this neighbour. It’s the guy who likes to practice his drums or guitar on early weekend days. But, we should give these guys some credit… They maybe don’t have a talent for music but they sure have a talent for ruining someone’s day.

Your first door neighbour is renovating the kitchen

Now, this deserves the top place on our list. The morning when your neighbour decides to smash the kitchen tiles and do some drilling is an absolute winner on the list of the annoying mornings. So, the sound of a drill wakes you up, then follows you to the bathroom just to ruin your shower and doesn’t stop while you desperately try to enjoy your morning coffee. Of course, it usually stops when you are already leaving your place to get away from it.

The best ways you can wake up

So, we discussed terrible ways to wake up, and now is the time to talk about the pleasant ones! What does waking up make a nice experience? First of all, this has to do with the way the sleeping cycle is interrupted. Also, it has to do with that which sleeping cycle is interrupted. People don’t wake up easily from every sleeping cycle.

The second thing that influences first moments after waking up has to do with, let’s say, psychological well-being. So, if you have a great motivation to wake up, if you know that something you like, want, enjoy is waiting for you that day, your morning is certainly going to be more pleasant. Let’s make a short overview of things that make waking up a pleasant experience!

waking up easily in the morning

Going to bed on time

So, if you leave between 6 and 8 hours for sleep, chances are that you are going to wake up during the lighter sleeping cycles, thus have a great morning!

Your sleep cycle is interrupted in a gentle and pleasing way

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be waking up naturally, because you had enough rest, in order to have a nice morning. Pleasing, quiet, gentle sounds can wake us up in the very smooth way and wouldn’t feel any stress. So, a gentle sound of birds singing or a smooth melody of a song we like can also wake us up sans stress and unpleasant experience.

You wake up to an image, situation or realization that you find pleasing

Another thing that can make your morning a great one is to open your eyes to an image that would please you. Our brain spends few seconds to few minutes to work its way from sleep to full awareness. During this transition, our brain is very subjective to various stimulants, such as audio, visual or tactile stimulants. So, if in those first few moments you experience a pleasant imagery, it would be less stressful for your mind to reach a state of full alertness.

You wake up with positive thoughts

So, if with waking up comes remembrance that this day is bringing something positive to you, your mind is immediately set in a positive mode! Realizing or remembering that that day has to offer something pleasing to you can boost your energy and motivation for the day.

You are waking up with a feeling of accomplishment

This is maybe the most positive and powerful feeling that can bring you into the new day. The feeling of some kind of success is one of the most positive feelings that humans can experience in general. So, if the day that you are waking up into is bringing you some reward for previous effort or hard work is one of the biggest motivations you can get. Meaning and purpose light our whole lives, and same goes for our first moments of full consciousness in the morning.

Now that we know what makes our mind to fully wake up in a pleasing way, let’s see what some of the situations are that can make this happen. 

Positive things that can take place in the morning

How many positive things can happen in the morning? The answer is infinite! It’s important to keep a positive outlook on things and appreciate the small pleasures in life. That way every morning can be the best morning ever.

how to wake up relaxed and happy

Your partner just brought you breakfast in bed

Really cute and romantic way to wake up is to the smell of coffee that your partner just brought you. Try to do the same for him/her sometimes.

Your kids brought you breakfast in bed

Certainly one of the most beautiful things for all parents is to be pleasantly surprised by their children.

Waking up to the peaceful sound of waves in the distance

So, you are on vacation and the first thing that you hear in the morning is a pleasing sound of the ocean. Real paradise! Or, you can even bring the ocean to you with a white noise machine!

Starting on Sunday morning after a great night's sleep

Starting your weekend well rested is one of those small pleasures in life! Jump out of bed, freshen up, and grab that cup of coffee.

Waking up on a first day of your vacation

You are waking up with the idea to start with getting ready for work… When all of a sudden, you remember it’s the first way of your well-earned vacation! Yes, you’re allowed to sleep in. 5 more minutes. Make the most of your free time, though!

Waking up after a party without a hangover

This situation can leave you feeling quite lucky and victorious. You had a fun night and now you have a great morning! Certainly, a nice way to begin the rest of your day feeling grateful. To do that you must stay hydrated at all times – so don’t forget to take a glass of water immediately after waking up.

Waking up to the sounds of beautiful and calm music

Waking up to the sound of music isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be an awesome way to start your day if the music is pleasant, beautiful and not loud. Being woken up by gentle sound of Chopin certainly can’t be a negative thing!

Waking up to the pleasant, fresh smells and sounds of undisturbed nature

There are two types of beauty in this world: the manmade beauty, meaning art, and the beauties of the nature. Waking up on your vacation to the sound of birds’ song and pleasing smells of pure nature is really a fairytale-like way to begin your day. It’s like something from a Disney movie. Except, there aren’t any birds and mice to help you shower and get dressed up.

Waking up to the realization that you already done the tasks for the day

This pleasant surprise can really boost your mood for the rest of the day. Waking up on Sunday thinking about the chores you need to do, and then remembering that they are already done, well, that sounds like the beginning of a great Sunday!

Waking up on your very important day

So, this is definitely a winner on this list. The morning of your important, beautiful, special day is certainly the one you will enjoy and remember. It can be the day of your graduation, your exhibit, your special concert or game, your last exam or some important speech you are going to give. Maybe it’s a day when you have an important presentation at your firm, big performance or long waited trip to a very special place. It’s the morning of a day that you worked hard for to make it happen. Whatever this day may be for you, its morning is something that you will surely enjoy and appreciate your whole being.

Tips for waking up pleasantly

tips for waking up pleasantly

Choose the right alarm sound

Pick the sound that won’t give you a heart attack. Go for some pleasant song that you like. Don’t overdo it though – you don’t need it to lull you back to sleep.

Consider using earplugs or a white noise machine

Maybe the earplugs are the answer if you have annoying neighbours or roommate. A white noise machine can produce pleasant sounds that can mask other sounds from the outside.

Go to sleep on time after a pleasant “ritual”

Don’t stay up too late and do something really nice for yourself before going to bed. Take a soothing bath, drink some chamomile tea, choose some silky sheets and read a book you love. This way you will drift off to the dream realm while in the most pleasant state.

Watch your pre-sleep diet

Avoid high-calorie dinners before sleep. Instead, eat something light and healthy. You will thank yourself in the morning. Of course, avoid or limit alcoholic drinks.

Open up the curtains and make your bedroom more pleasant

So, the best way to wake up is by natural sunlight. It’s just in our nature to be pleased when seeing the sun in the morning. This helps us to wake up, it benefits our mood and positively influences the biological processes in our body, such as hormone production. You can even boost this pleasant way of waking up by beautifying your sleeping environment. Keep your bedroom well decorated, clean, without unnecessary stuff and just let the sunrays to dance around your pleasant lebensraum.


In order to have a great day, you need to have a great morning, right? Maybe some days in our lives are too important and beautiful to be ruined by the neighbour’s drill, but the most of our days are under the influence of the way we woke up. So, don’t leave the way you wake up to chance! Take it under control! Make your evening pleasant, go to bed on time with positive thought and welcome the new day with your blackout curtains wide open and your mind ready for new accomplishments!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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