Waking up in the morning is hard. It’s even harder if you’re not a self-proclaimed “morning person”. Often times, people associate the morning time with rushing around, being sleepy, and wishing they could go back to bed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you want to squeeze in a morning workout or simply make your morning routine less chaotic, there are many reasons to work on improving your morning routine. No promises that you will become a “morning person”, but you may find yourself with a renewed sense of energy which enables you to take on the day!
Start the night before
Plan out as much as possible the night before. Preset the coffee, lay out work clothes (and gym clothes), and pack a lunch. Doing as much as possible the night before will not only help alleviate stress and make getting out of bed a less hectic event, it will afford more of that precious sleeping time.
As tempting as it can be, snoozing is actually disruptive to natural sleeping patterns. Research has shown hitting the snooze button can interfere with brain hormones, which throw off the body’s circadian (sleep) cycle. Disrupting the circadian cycle can impair the ability to feel awake during the day and sleepy at night. It’s better to simply sleep a little longer and get up the first time the alarm goes off. Sleeping longer will also allow the body to stay in the deeper stage of sleep (REM sleep) that allows the body to perform many tasks that are essential to mental and physical health.
Exposure to natural sunlight, especially in the morning, can help the body regulate its natural circadian cycle. Exposure to sunlight (and some bright sources of artificial light) inhibits the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body that plays a crucial role in the body’s ability to regulate sleep, and feel sleepy. Therefore, exposure to sunlight in the morning and exposure to a dark (without bright lights, cell phones, laptops, etc.) environment before bed is recommended to create the ideal sleep-wake cycle.
Many people who do not consider themselves a “morning person” will skip breakfast in order to save time and stay in bed a little longer. The problem is that without food (no, coffee doesn’t count), the body doesn’t have enough energy to be fueled for the rest of the day. Consequently, the day starts off by feeling sluggish and slow. Not to mention that research shows that by the time lunch and dinner roll around, the likelihood of over eating, particularly high sugar and high calorie foods, is increased.
One of the best ways to combat morning sleepiness is to go to bed earlier. Sounds simple enough, but many people find going to bed earlier a difficult task. The best thing to do is to set a firm bed time and stick with it. Start preparing for bed before the actual bedtime, so that when the set time rolls around, things are calm and relaxed. Try creating a relaxing bedtime ritual such as a bath, reading a book, practicing relaxation techniques, or practicing mindfulness, if needed.