Would you rather snooze through sunrise than watch it? Don’t be defensive. Science shows that your biological clock is exactly that—biological. Meaning, some hikers are just wired for alpine starts, while others will always struggle getting into their boots by noon. So, when you can, plan your trip around your biological clock: If you love sleeping in, start later and hike later into the evening. Adapt your trip to your psyche.
Sometimes, however, building a trip timeline around your own tendency to hit the snooze button just won’t fly. If you’re on a group trip (don’t be that guy that everyone is waiting on) or have your sights set on an objective that requires an early start for safety, fake it ’til you make it. “We can’t change our biology, but we can change our behavior,” says Stephanie Smith, the public education coordinator for the Colorado Psychological Association. Here are her tips:
1) Sleep training Go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier—10 to 15 minutes at a time—over the course of a month or so prior to your trip.
2) Fit it all in “You have to shift the whole 24-hour day,” Smith says. That means eating earlier, setting up camp earlier, and going to bed earlier. Exercising after 7 p.m. makes it tougher to conk out, so build some camp time into your schedule.
3) Get practical Face your tent to the east for morning’s first rays. Hydrate the day before (no alcohol, please) and eat enough so your blood-sugar levels don’t drop at night.
4) Ace the morning Get camp chores done the night before. Organize your pack, stash breakfast items on the top of the bear bag, and tuck your layers in the bottom of your sleeping bag so they’re warm when you put them on.
5) Treat yourself Hot chocolate, tea, gourmet coffee, a tasty breakfast, even a favorite song can ease the pain of waking up.
6) Stay positive Focus on the adventure to be had, the smooth miles, the views, first lunch, second lunch. —Corey Buhay
Bonus: Embrace the Night
When the sun sets on a camping trip, we’re trained to go down with it. Maybe we read a bit by headlamp, but everything outside the little cone of light disappears. Our world shrinks. On your next trip, resist the urge to retire early. Go for a moonlit walk. On a moonless night, sit in a meadow, headlamp off, and discover what your heightened sense of hearing detects in the darkness. Open your mind to the night, and you might just have trouble going to sleep.