The alarm goes off, you grumble to yourself while still half asleep, hitting the snooze button, and snuggling back under the covers. Is this you in the morning?
That was me all throughout university and medical training. It’s one of the reasons I became so interested in sleep science and became a sleep specialist.
The good news is that anyone can learn the skills to wake up more easily in the morning, starting with a few easy micro-habits. In fact, establishing a few simple habits after waking up and before going to bed keeps your circadian rhythm, or body clock, running on time. A healthy body clock is conducive to healthy sleep-wake cycles, good energy levels, better moods and focus, proper timing of your metabolism and hormone secretion, and improved physical health.
So let’s jump in and look at a few habits to wake up easier and keep your internal clock running on time:
- Don’t set your alarm clock for too early
This might sound backwards - isn’t the point to get up earlier? Setting your alarm for too early disrupts those precious moments of REM sleep we get in the hourly hours of the morning. This will make you even more foggy and tired in the morning. Instead of hitting snooze repeatedly, set the alarm to go off within 15 minutes of the time you need to get up.
- Get bright light in the morning
Open up your blinds or curtains as soon as you wake, or switch on the lights to full brightness if it’s still dark outside. Light is nature’s alarm clock. A dose of bright light in the morning puts a stop on your brain’s production of melatonin and will reset your body clock.
- Sit up & stretch
Stretching first thing in the morning gets the blood flowing and wakes up your muscles. Step 1 is to sit up with your spine straight. Step 2 is to raise your arms over your head and reach toward the ceiling. Morning movement tells your brain that it’s time to wake up.
- Drink water
Whether you’re a fan of coffee, tea, or green smoothies, it’s a good idea to start your day with a glass of water to keep your body hydrated. We naturally become dehydrated overnight, which causes fatigue and lethargy. Keep a bottle of water on your nightstand to make hydration even more convenient first thing in the morning.
- Listen to upbeat music
Do you start scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning? While it’s tempting to catch up on social media or emails, doing this first thing can actually affect your stress levels and mood. Instead, try listening to some upbeat music to set the tone for the day and give you a little extra boost to get up and get moving.
If it feels overwhelming to overhaul your morning routine, have compassion for yourself and take your time. Pick one habit that you want to start with. Start with whatever feels easiest and most nourishing to you. Then, layer on more habits over time. Take care of yourself and go at your own pace. What micro-habit would you like to start practicing this week?
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