Tips and tricks for better sleep and energized mornings
After publishing my latest article on how to avoid burnout, a close friend of mine asked how to become more of a morning person.
I’m no sleep expert, but studies show a good night’s sleep helps improve memory and longevity, spurs your metabolism, and reduces risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Having a good night’s sleep enhances your creativity, raises your attention span, and even boosts your happiness and energy level.
Sleep is important, and it’s something I have struggled with for some time. I would find myself up at night unable to shut off my mind. I would feel restless, frustrated, and completely wired. I had no idea what to do or how to control it. It wasn’t until I did a few experiments when I finally found a way to curb it.
Six ways to fall asleep faster
I’ll say this right now: I am not a morning person. There is nothing I love more than my warm sheets, quilt comforter, and soft, plush bed. Before trying out a few practices, most mornings it was impossible for me to get out of bed. I would find myself waiting until the very last second before jumping out of the sheets and getting ready for my day. This left me feeling rushed, irritated, and grouchy.
Before we start talking about becoming a morning person, let’s look at some tricks for getting a better night’s sleep.
Find your perfect bedtime routine
The first thing you need to do is decide your bedtime. Try to give yourself six-to-eight-hours each night. I get as much sleep as I can; I go to bed at 10:00 p.m., and I wake up at 6:30 a.m. For some people that sounds like too much, but I find that bedtime perfect for me. Find something that works for you. Once you figure that out, follow these tips to help make sleeping easier:
Get ready for bed before bedtime
Gretchen Rubin, the author of the bestseller, The Happiness Project, taught me a lot about sleep. One of her tips is to get ready for bed an hour or so before bedtime: washing your face, brushing your teeth, taking a warm bath/shower, etc. Doing so will relax you, and you won’t feel like getting ready for bed is a chore.
Avoid all stimulating activities
Stay away from doing tasks that keeps your brain engaged including homework, finishing your research paper, and yes, screen time. I have a strict screen time rule. Try not to use your phone, television, or other electronics that might keep you wired. Studies find the light emitted from your phone and other screens impact your sleep, and even alters your alertness and focus the next day.
Exercise, stretch or do yoga before bed
Doing yoga, light stretches, or easy exercises before bed eliminate restlessness throughout the night. I found when my hip injury used to keep me up at night, adding a little more yoga and stretches right before bed helped loosen those flexors and gave me a better night’s sleep.
Tip: Speaking of restlessness, try to not get in bed until bedtime. If you’re lying in your bed for hours before you go to sleep, your body won’t adjust to the change.
Keep your room chilly
I love sleeping in a cold environment. It allows you to pile on more blankets, put on fuzzy socks, and bundle up! Keep your bedroom to about 65 degrees; your warm sheets will be more inviting, and you will feel relaxed.
Turn all of your lights off
Another useful tip from Gretchen Rubin. I find that even the smallest nightlight will keep me up. Make sure your room is completely dark with little distractions. Sleeping in a completely dark room helps your brain wind down and realize that it’s time for bed.
If all else fails, read and write
If all of these tricks still don’t work, sit up and try reading from a book or a magazine (with the lights on, obviously). You can also try writing your thoughts down; getting them on paper is a good release. You can even make a to-do list about what needs to get done the next day, so you are ready to fall asleep and be prepared the next day.
Ways to be a morning person
Now that you’ve found a routine that works for you, it’s time to work on becoming a more energized, happier person in the morning. It’s really hard to instantly become a morning person; it takes a lot of work and conditioning. The biggest trick is to find a morning routine that works for you. Doing so will help you feel excited to wake up in the morning and give you the right start you need for your day.
Eat a healthy breakfast
You’ve heard it your entire life: the best start to the morning is a healthy breakfast. Make sure your breakfast is big enough to give you that boost of energy you need to get out the door. I like adding protein to my breakfast, whether it is different variations on eggs or peanut butter spread on toast. Having a good breakfast in the morning will help you stay energized throughout the day.
Stop pressing the snooze button
This one is pretty simple. The more you press snooze, the more time you lose (I just made that up now and I am pretty impressed with myself)! Pressing the snooze button isn’t being proactive; get up the moment your alarm goes off. You’ll feel happy that you have extra time to have a bigger breakfast or read more of the newspaper instead of fitfully trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep.
Get up at the same time every day
Find a time in the morning that works throughout the week. Waking up at the same time every day will soon become routine, and eventually, you won’t need a pesky alarm to wake you up in the morning. Waking up naturally is peaceful and a much more pleasant way to start your day.
Get moving once you wake up
The moment you wake up, get out of bed even if you are just walking into another room. Don’t lie in bed and scroll through your Instagram and see what everyone else is up to. That will only make you want to stay in bed longer, make you groggier, and chew up a lot of time. Once you wake up, get moving.
Speaking of moving, exercising is a great way to boost your energy and start your morning right. Try doing some morning yoga, or take your dog for a walk. Doing so will wake you up, you’ll feel happier, you’ll increase your self-esteem, and you’ll be ready to take on your day. Exercising is also a great way to stay focused throughout your day.
What about you?
How do you keep a steady, nighttime schedule? Are you a morning person? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below!