The First Battle of the Day

August 17, 2013

First thing in the morning, we are faced with a battle. Our alarm goes off, and we have a choice—we can either hit snooze or get out of bed immediately. I have a confession to make: For most of my life, I have hit the snooze button and dozed off again. Sometimes I have even done this more than once.

The irony is, I almost always regret my laziness. When I oversleep, my head feels like it is filled with cement, my eyelids feel as though they are made of lead, and my thoughts are sluggish. It takes a long time to fully shake the feeling of drowsiness, and in many ways, my day is off to a bad start.

The heroic minute

In his book The Way, St. Josemaria Escriva addressed this very thing, recommending immediate rising as an excellent mortification.

“The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and … up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish.”

Inspired by St. Josemaria, I have recently been trying to break the habit of hitting snooze and attempting to replace it with the new habit of waking early—-way earlier than I ever have before. While I still fail sometimes, I am rising immediately more and more frequently. And it feels great.

How to do it

Rising instantly sounds easy, but if that were true, we would all do it and there would be no such thing as a snooze button. Here are three suggestions from my own experience that may help you.

1. Pray about it – It may sound silly to pray about waking up in the morning, but nothing is too small to bring to Our Lord. Our wills are weak, and we need graces to do even the smallest good act. I find that when I say a simple prayer asking for the graces to overcome my laziness, and also make a firm resolution, I can almost always get up immediately the next day.

2. Don’t argue with yourself – When I fail to rise immediately, it’s almost always because I rationalize a few more minutes of sleep. “Five more minutes and I will get up,” I promise myself. And guess what—five minutes later, I am saying the same thing.

Even the smallest delay, the smallest rationalization can mean you end up sleeping way longer than you intended. Give yourself no quarter.

3. Move your alarm – Where is your alarm in the room? This can make a big difference. If it’s on the other side of the room and you have to get up to shut it off, you are far more likely to get up right away. I have actually found the opposite to be true, though. My alarm is right next to my head. When it goes off in the morning, it is loud enough to force me wide awake. When it was across the room, it wasn’t loud enough to make me wake immediately.


You may be reading this and laughing at my laziness. Perhaps you are far more disciplined than me and you jump out of bed immediately. But maybe you have been hitting snooze, and like me, you regret it. Try the suggestions above and see if they don’t help.

I assure you, if you win the first battle of the day, you won’t regret it. You will be energized and you will find your will strengthened for the other tough choices with which you are faced throughout the day.

Sam Guzman

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Reader Interactions


  1. John28 says

    I read this quote and starting getting up on time (5:30) back in December. St. Josemaria Escriva goes on to say that the devil and demons are not resting so you need to be up! He also added that the first word out of your mouth when your feet hit the floor should be Servium! (I will serve).
    I’d like to say it gets easier; some days are better than others but I always feel good later knowing I prevailed in my first battle of the day. And my long suffering wife is happy the alarm doesn’t go off 4 times a morning.

  2. Richard kilmer says

    If you are unemployed or retired, there should not be any excuse for not rising up early for the Lord. Your catholic church has a daily morning Mass. It would be a good idea to arrive thirty minuts early to pray the rosary before Mass begins. there is no better way to begin your day than this to show your love for the Holy Trinity and recieving Jesus,s true body and blood in the Holy Sacrement in the Eucharist. I have been doing this the first day after i retired ten years ago. I am now seventy five years old and rise out of bed fifteen minuts before the alarm.which is set at six. It is rare the alarm is ever heard. It is good to form this very good habit. It is good for our souls and pleases God immensly. It also brings peace of mind and comfort. It shouldn,t stop there. We all can recite short prayers throughout the day. you don,t need to set an alarm for that. God bless.

  3. John says

    I get up more promptly when I think “Serviam” when my alarm goes off. That is Latin for “I will serve.” This was the cry of St. Michael the Archangel as a response to Lucifer’s “I will not serve” (Non serviam) when God put his angels to the test.

    Thank you for your website.

  4. Antonio says

    I am used to hit the snooze botton. But I find very difficult to get sleeping soon in evening, even if I go to bed early. I will try. Thank You

  5. John S says

    I have found it ealier to wake up by using a sleep cyle app so that I wake up during the lightest sleep phase. Not only am I more likely to wake up at the specified time but I also feel less groggy.

  6. C.H. McCants says

    I think so much of this is also consequent on the night before and often the poor decision to stay up later than necessary. A prompt early rise (~4:30am), especially for Matins/Office of Readings is a good and worthwhile penance.


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