How to be an Early Riser
I recently wrote a post about the benefits of getting up early and starting the day doing things you love. Changing your sleep pattern is possible, but easiest if done gradually. Here are some tools to help you have brighter morning. It’s worth the effort.
Get more sleep
- Figure out how much sleep you need. How long do you have to sleep to wake up without an alarm? Don’t calculate how you sleep in on the weekend if you are catching up. How much sleep do you need after a week of vacation? Plan to get that much sleep every night. For most people, this is 7-9 hours.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Even weekends.
- It will help to get to sleep each night, if your body is ready. Keeping regular hours sets your internal clock. If you need to make changes to your schedule, make it gradually.
- Develop a nighttime routine. Another way to cue drowsiness is to have a relaxing nighttime routine. This can be yoga, meditation, reading, a warm bath. Computer, phone, and TV screens emit light in a blue range that can trigger wakefulness, so these activities should not be included in your going-to-bed routine. Dim the lights, and listen to some relaxing music.
- Limit your exposure to light in bed. Like the light from screens, light coming from clocks, phones and chargers can keep you awake. The same goes for light from windows. Dark blinds or blackout curtains may be necessary if you live with lights from outside. If your surroundings are dark at night, sleep with the curtains slightly open, so the natural light will wake you up naturally.
- Make a comfortable bed. You spend a lot of time in bed, so invest in a comfortable mattress, and linens that are smooth. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars, but don’t skimp on scratchy sheets and lumpy pillows.
- Make a comfortable room. Studies have shown that a cool and quiet room supports sleep. For most people, 65 degrees is about right. Use earplugs if necessary, to achieve the quiet you need.
- Limit strenuous exercise, heavy meals, and alcohol for three hours before bed. All of these will interfere with quality sleep. Caffeine stays in your body for a long time. Only half of it will be gone after five hours. Nicotine will also prevent you from falling asleep.
When you don’t get a good night’s sleep
- Make up the sleep the next night. Don’t wait until the weekend.
- Get a short nap the next day. Make sure not to sleep longer than 20-30 minutes, or you will reach a deeper level of sleep. If you sleep longer, you will want to sleep for hours, and this will interfere with your sleep schedule.
- Don’t hit the snooze button. Studies have shown that this doesn’t help. You don’t really rest in the short time between buzzes.
During the Day
- Have something to look forward to each day. Remind yourself of this when you first wake up. Try to have something nice to do even before you go to work.
- Get exposure to light in the morning. It will help you wake up, and help set your internal clock. This is especially helpful if you are trying to change your sleeping schedule.
- Get some exercise. While strenuous exercise is not good right before bed, exercise in general supports good sleep habits. Exercising early in the morning in the sunlight is even better.
- Start out by sitting quietly. Many of us hate mornings because of the rush and chaos that often come with them. Start your morning with only a few minutes when you don’t expect anything productive of yourself. You can meditate, but you could just sit for a moment and think quietly or listen to some music.
- Prepare the night before. If you find yourself rushing in the morning, prepare your lunch, set out your clothes, and plan your schedule for the day before you begin your bedtime routine. This will give you a more pleasant start, and may help you sleep better if you don’t have to worry about what is ahead in the morning.
- Drink some water, then have a cup of coffee or tea. You are dehydrated after a night of sleep.
- Have a nutritious breakfast with some protein. This will stick with you, so you don’t have a drop in energy before lunch.
- National Sleep Foundation Bedroom Poll: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/press-release/there’s-no-place-home-sleep-according-new-national-sleep-foundation-bedroom-po
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Report on healthy sleep: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/healthy_sleep.pdf
Coffee cups: vastateparksstaff