Habitual night-owls find it very difficult to understand the workings of morning people. They go to bed early and wake up at the crack of dawn. They’re cheerful, full of energy, and seem to get all their work done way before the rest of the world does. As strange as these anti-snooze button folks may seem, they’re still people to be envied. In all honesty, some of us nocturnal beings secretly wish we could be like them.
It may seem difficult to transform oneself overnight, especially if you’ve got your evening routine all wrong. This is because the secret to waking up early and having yourself a super-productive day really starts the night before.
So here are some quick pointers on things you need to avoid doing in the evenings if you want to be an early riser.
1. Eating A Heavy Dinner
The thought of an XL-sized burger or a massive plate of cheesy pasta is certainly very tempting, especially if you’ve had a tiring day and are looking for some comfort food. But think about what is going to happen to that food once it goes into your system. Your tummy will spend the night digesting it and believe it or not, digestion is a pretty energy-intensive process. The more you feed yourself, the longer your stomach takes to digest that food. This is sure to lead to disturbed sleep and improper sleeping patterns.
What to do instead: The key to waking up feeling less lethargic is eating healthy and light. Fruits and veggies, therefore, should typically be the star attraction of your dinnertime. They can be easily digested and will give you a good dose of nutrition as well!
2. Refilling Your Wine Glass
Reaching out for another round of wine before bedtime may make sense, since alcohol is, after all, a sedative. While this is true, know that alcohol will definitely give you plenty of trouble staying asleep. Not only will downing numerous glasses make you wake up at odd hours of the night to take more trips to the bathroom, it can also block REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – which is considered to be the restorative type of sleep. This phase facilitates the proliferation of brain cells which contribute to long-term memory. REM sleep is also where most of your learning takes place. Research claims that when the brain is unable to enter into REM sleep mode, it affects your ability to recall what you taught yourself before going to sleep.1
What to do instead: Instead of alcohol, try sipping on a herbal tea of your choice. This can actually help your mind relax and will give you a better chance at getting yourself some quality shut-eye. If you can’t avoid alcohol on certain evenings, try limiting yourself to just one glass and make sure to leave a gap of at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
3. Being Stressed
Most of us spend our days juggling a wide range of worries. Work deadlines, a difficult relationship, household chores, financial strain – the list just doesn’t stop. Stress of any form and kind triggers the release of adrenaline, a hormone that prepares your body for a ‘fight’ response. As a result, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and you find yourself having a sudden burst of energy which makes it difficult to do anything but sleep.2
This is why going to bed stressed is always a bad idea and trust us, groggy and cranky don’t make a very happy team at all.
What to do instead: Take some time in the evenings to set your worries aside. Do this either by confiding in your best friend or by jotting down your thoughts in a journal. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll find yourself feeling far less stressed!
4. Being Involved With Electronics
Computers, laptops, tablets, Kindles, smartphones, and televisions have become a large part of our activities throughout the day. Unfortunately, these are one of the things that are keeping you from getting a night of restful sleep. The blue light emitted by them could wreck the quality of your sleep. This kind of light stops your pineal gland from releasing melatonin, the essential sleep hormone that is released a few hours before bedtime to make you sleepy when you hit the sack.3 4 This is why spending hours watching Netflix right before bedtime is an awfully bad idea and no amount of counting sheep is going to help you sleep when you finally get to the pillow.
What to do instead: Set a rule for yourself, where you ditch all your electronic devices and gadgets at least an hour before you head to bed. If you can’t sleep, try reading a book.
5. Turning Up The Degrees
As you fall asleep, your body’s temperature drops naturally by a few degrees and then returns to a warmer temperature as you approach the waking hours. If your bedroom is too warm, it will interfere with your body’s ability to lower your temperature which will, in turn, disturb your sleep.
What to do instead: The next time you prepare yourself for bedtime, lower the temperature in your room by a few degrees than usual. Experts suggest that a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for optimal sleep.5
6. Sleeping After Midnight
You can’t expect to wake up feeling all fresh and chirpy in the morning when you’ve hit the sack at one or two in the morning.
This messes with your body’s natural sleep cycle, regulated by what we know as the ‘Circadian Clock’ and you will end up feeling drained even if you manage to sleep deeply for the next seven hours.
What to do instead: If you want an active morning it is imperative that you go to sleep before midnight. 10.00 p.m. or 10.30 p.m. are good times to hit the bed if you want to get up around 6 a.m. in the morning. These times are well in sync with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and will give you that much-needed rest that your body will thank you for!
|↑1||Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.|
|↑2||Han, Kuem Sun, Lin Kim, and Insop Shim. “Stress and sleep disorder.” Experimental neurobiology 21, no. 4 (2012): 141-150.|
|↑3||Figueiro, Mariana G., Brittany Wood, Barbara Plitnick, and Mark S. Rea. “The impact of light from computer monitors on the melatonin levels in college students.” Biog Amines 25 (2011): 106-116.|
|↑4||Gooley, Joshua J., Kyle Chamberlain, Kurt A. Smith, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Shantha MW Rajaratnam, Eliza Van Reen, Jamie M. Zeitzer, Charles A. Czeisler, and Steven W. Lockley. “Exposure to room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin onset and shortens melatonin duration in humans.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 96, no. 3 (2010): E463-E472.|
|↑5||The Ideal Temperature For Sleep. National Sleep Foundation.|