Five Top Tips for Better Sleep and Brighter Mornings
RING! RING! RIIIIING! The alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m. Your eyes snap open just as your hand flies overhead to slap the snooze button. Ahh…sweet surrender.
RING! RING! RIIIIING! Again it blares at 7:10 a.m.You roll over this time, rousing your brain just enough to know how many more times you can smash that snooze button and still make it to work on time.
RING! RING! RIIIIIIING! Unbelievably, it is now 7:50 a.m. You have ten minutes left before you must leave for work. You pull on whatever clothes come into focus first, splash some water on your face and head out the door. The workday has begun.
Sound familiar? Poor sleeping habits are all too commonplace. Our lives are rushed, stressed and anxious. It’s no surprise the whole world has become addicted to “high-energy, low-happiness” drinks full of sugar and caffeine.
Uncomfortable morning routines are the new normal. Many of us are confused about sleep. How many hours should I get? What time should I wake up? When should I go to bed?
The truth is, we are asking the wrong questions. What we do when we wake in the morning is at least as important as what time we rise in the morning.
Undoubtedly it is better to rise early. Most experts agree that anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. is the optimal time for rising. At this time, you body’s melatonin levels begin to decrease and heart rate and blood pressure begin to rise, making your body more alert.
Rising from bed each morning needn’t be such a painful experience. By cultivating a comfortable morning routine, most if not all morning anxiety can be eliminated.
How to Cultivate a Morning Routine:
1. Go to sleep when you’re tired. The hour at which you rise is far more important than the hour at which you sleep. Often we make the mistake of counting backwards from our rise time. For example, “If I want to rise at 6:00 a.m. then I must be in bed asleep no later than 10:00 p.m. This way I will get my eight hours and mornings will be a breeze.”
Anyone who has tested this method knows it doesn’t work. There is no magic number in terms of how many hours of sleep are needed per night. Try not to get too hooked on finding your own magic number either. For most people, it doesn’t exist.
Far more important is to listen to your body and respond to its desires. If you’re in the middle of a movie and your eyes begin to close of their own accord, shut it off and go to bed. Resist the urge to push through. Unless you’re on the best date of your life, in which case all bets are off.
2. Get up when you plan to. No sleep button. No fancy tricks. Just do it. Most people will find they adjust after as little as three to five days.
The key is to rise at the same time every day, even if you did have the date of your life and a half-bottle of wine the night before. Your body will adjust naturally and you will find it is no longer a chore to rise early.
If the alarm clock is killing you, find an alternative. Find something less alarming. If you have an early riser in your house, ask them to wake you up as well. Move to a room that gets more sunlight in the morning and let that be your alarm, or try an old-fashioned chime clock or zen clock that will ease you out of sleep gently. Many stereos and mp3 players also come with “alarm clock” functions. Why not wake up to some gentle chanting?
Hiring a private butler is also an excellent notion. Additionally, this person can prepare healthy breakfasts and lay out your clothes for the day.
3. Eat healthy food. Diet and sleep are inextricably linked. It is impossible to improve your sleep without first improving your diet. Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed food are the biggest offenders. Cut them out as often as you can.
Only a person who has fasted or cleansed understands just how much energy our bodies put into the digesting of food. Eliminate even a little food and you will find your body needs far fewer hours of sleep per night.
Start each morning with a good healthy breakfast. If you’re not normally a breakfast eater, it’s very easy to cultivate the habit. It won’t be long before you wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without breakfast. Avoid sugary cereals, which only give you a short-term lift. You’ll get the most mileage out of high-protein foods.
Eating a large, glutinous dinner is a sure way to ensure a restless night. Your best bet is to eat a smaller dinner of mostly fruits or vegetables. Avoid meat and alcohol. Make lunch your most filling meal of the day.
4. Get a little exercise every day. Studies show 90% of people who exercise regularly do so in the morning when there are no distractions. Life is less predictable later in the day; it’s easy for other things to get in the way.
Do twenty minutes of cardio each day and you can probably shave off an hour of sleep each night. Keep it cheap and simple – a quick run around the block and a few minutes on the mini-trampoline in your garage should do the trick.
5. Cultivate a good attitude. Learn how to enjoy your morning. Turn the phone off. Watch the sunrise. Meditate for a few minutes. Think good thoughts. Express gratitude for all the you have in your life.
Mornings are what set the tone for the day. It’s worth it to put in the time and find a routine that works. It shouldn’t be inhumanely difficult; mildly challenging will do. Commit to thirty days and it’s unlikely you’ll ever go back.
Peaceful sleep can change your life, so do whatever work is necessary. Your body will thank you in kind.