Everyone has a unique circadian rhythm or natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Roughly 25% of people are naturally early risers, and roughly another 25% are night owls.
The rest of us fall somewhere in between. We stay up late. Set the alarm. Hit the snooze button. Wake up in a panic. And the list goes on and on.
Thankfully, we all have an impressive ability to make our habits serve our long-term interests. With a few lifestyle and environmental changes, we can recalibrate our system to get the sleep we need and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. This article will list a few simple tips to help you get enough rest and wake up ready for the day.
Set up your sleep schedule to avoid sleep problems
Having a sleep schedule in place helps you to normalize sleep as an essential part of your day. It also gets your body and brain accustomed to getting the full amount of rest you need.
· Have a set wake-up time
You might not have it in you to start your day at 4:00 am, or 5:00 am. But you can try. According to a New York Times post, you can reset your body’s natural clock by moving up your wake-up time by 20 minutes a day. So, if you often wake up at 7:00 but want to start at 5:00, set your alarm for 6:40 on Monday, and 6:20 on Tuesday, and so on.
· Prioritize sleep
It’s easy to skip sleep to watch a movie, work, socialize, or work out. But this will only mess up your sleep cycle and affect your sleep quality. When you prioritize sleep, it becomes an essential part of your day and gets your body and brain accustomed to getting the full rest you need. Figure out the amount of sleep you need – experts recommend seven to nine hours – and calculate when you should get to bed based on your fixed wake-up time.
· Set your alarm and move it to avoid hitting snooze
When you set the alarm clock, try not to hit the snooze button. Otherwise, the following alarm may awaken you in a new sleep cycle, making it even harder to wake up. Besides, experts discourage sleep fragmentation, as it increases daytime grogginess and sleepiness, reduces performance, and makes you feel run-down.
· Stick to your sleep schedule
Try not to stay up late or sleep in on weekends, as this will disrupt your circadian rhythm. Instead, you want to be consistent and go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including holidays and weekends.
Set and follow a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is a set of activities you can do in the same order, each night, in the 30-60 minutes before going to bed. The routines may vary from one person to the next but often consist of calming activities like a warm bath, meditation, journaling, etc. Good sleep hygiene can help you get a good night’s sleep.
· Set aside 30 minutes for winding down
Allow yourself up to 30 minutes to wind down and transition into sleep mode. Use this time to do things that calm your mind down, like light stretching, soft music, meditation, or even reading.
· Ditch the electronics
Tempting as it might be to use your phone or laptop before bed; studies show that these devices increase the feelings of alertness. Screens emit blue light, which suppresses the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps you feel tired and ready for a good sleep.
· Avoid heavy meals
Heavy meals and drinking before bedtime can cause acid reflux, indigestion, and midnight restroom trips that interfere with your sleep quality. But you don’t want to go to bed hungry either, because that can also upset your stomach and make it hard to fall asleep.
· Don’t toss and turn
If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and do something calming in low light. Read a book, stretch, meditate, and so on before trying to sleep again.
· Make sure your pets are comfortable
The last thing you want is your pets waking you up. But like humans, pets too have needs that, when not met, will cause them discomfort. So, try feeding your pets in time and ensure they’re comfortable before you retire to bed. You can also train them to sleep on your schedule.
Optimize your bedroom for a good night sleep
Your bedroom could be the reason you are having a hard time falling asleep or waking up early. From light to temperature to scent, studies have shown that bedroom environments have real and measurable effects on your sleep. So, you want to optimize it to ensure it promotes good night sleep.
· Invest in a good mattress
A good mattress will improve your sleep. Research suggests that sleeping on a medium-firm mattress, particularly one with adjustable firmness, promotes proper spinal alignment, comfort, and quality sleep. The right mattress supports your spine’s healthy curvature and allows you to stay at a comfortable temperature and sleeping position. This translates to a good night's sleep and an easy time waking up early the following day.
· Keep it dark
The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus in your brain uses light signals to control the circadian rhythm. When it detects light, it produces cortisol, delays melatonin release, and keeps your body temperature raised, causing wakefulness. Dimming your room close to bedtime can help prepare your body for a good and healthy sleep.
Treat a sleep disorder
If you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome (RLS) or sleep apnea, treatment can help you sleep and wake up better. Treatment varies based on the disorder and may include:
- Behavioral therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea
- A breathing device for obstructive sleep apnea
You can train yourself to wake up early in the morning. A few tweaks to your routine can help you eliminate your morning sleepiness and start your day on a solid note.