Let’s face it: nobody likes to wake up earlier. Attending to life’s responsibilities seems but an afterthought when the warmth of a comforting bed beckons us to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, at some point or another we are going to have to get up and go through the motions of our day.
Whether it be for health and reducing pain, a desire to get work done earlier, or simply to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, if you want to start waking up earlier then this is the guide for you.
How do I wake up earlier and get more rest?
This may sound like a very basic question, with very basic answers. However, there’s more to waking up earlier and feeling well rested than just “Set your alarm earlier,” and “Go to sleep earlier.” Let’s tackle the details.
Getting ready for bed
How you prepare yourself for sleep is an important part of the process. What stimulants are you exposing yourself to right before bed? It’s possible that these things are keeping your brain active, thus preventing you from falling asleep. In order to wake up earlier, consider avoiding things such as:
- Exercising too late in the day
- Turning off electronics an hour before going to sleep
- Removing blue light from your environment. Blue light is usually only naturally found in day light, and thus tricks your body into thinking it’s day time and prevents a restful sleep.
- Not eating too late in the night
Sleeping is very beneficial to our everyday health. The deeper you sleep, the more your body is able to support short-term and long-term memory, cell regeneration, the balance of hormones, and your overall ability to learn. Let’s go over a few things that can help promote a deeper sleep.
Your bedroom environment can be very conducive to promoting a healthy sleep schedule and helping you wake up earlier. For instance, your room should be pitch black at night. As animals, we evolved to sleep without any light source other than the stars, so it should come as no surprise that even our cute little night light may be creating too much of a stimulant, confusing your body into thinking it’s day time, and preventing you from entering a deeper sleep. If you live on a well-lit street, it may also be necessary to purchase blackout-shades, in order to prevent unwanted light from entering your bedroom.
If you’re sensitive to noise at night, you might want to consider getting a white noise machine. Even if it’s just something as simple as a window fan, the semi-rhythmic pattern can actually be supportive in blocking out outside disturbances, helping you fall into a deeper sleep and then wake up earlier.
It may be subtle, but temperature also has an important role to play. In order to find comfort at night, you might want to consider setting your thermostat to an appropriate temperature that works for you. Cooler temperatures seem to work best.
There’s no way around it. Eventually you’re going to have to get out of bed. You might as well make the process as easy as possible.
Let’s start with your alarm. You should be forced to move your body when you wake up. Escape the warm embrace of your bed by placing your alarm on the opposite side of the room, or even in another room if possible. This way you have to make a choice between the comfort of your bed, or turning of the annoying alarm (which SHOULD be annoying). By the time you’ve gotten up and your sleepy-brain has fussed enough with the alarm to be able to turn it off, your blood is pumping, oxygen is flowing throughout the body, and you’ve escaped from bed. Might as well continue with the rest of your day at this point, right?
Another note on alarm clocks: If you’re waking up especially early, it’s possible that there will be no light yet in the sky. Just as we humans evolved to sleep in the dark of night, our bodies are also naturally programmed to begin waking up as the sun rises in the sky. Consider buying yourself a LED sunrise alarm clock that simulates the rising sun. By slowly increasing the light in your room around an hour before your alarm actually rings, you will wake feeling much more refreshed and ready to go.
Throughout the Day
As you are creating a healthy sleeping schedule, it is imperative that throughout the later part of day, you do NOT take a nap. Any amount of rest will throw off your ability to fall asleep properly at night, as your brain will still think there is more time in the day, and thus hinder your ability to wake up earlier.
There’s one more problem: Your adrenals. This bodily function that controls your fight or flight response is also in charge of your ability to sleep, and it is heavily impacted when caffeine is introduced into the body. When you drink coffee late in the day, your adrenals will still be operating late at night, preventing a restful state. To avoid this, it is recommended that you stop drinking coffee after 12pm.
From establishing a peaceful night time routine, to removing all light from your bedroom, there are many things you can do to help promote a restful sleep. If you still find it difficult to sleep after implementing these practices, our Psychology Department at Healthpointe would be happy to help you on your journey towards waking up every day feeling refreshed. Make an appointment with a psychologist today!