I’ll admit it, I hit snooze not once, not twice, but three consecutive times on my alarm this morning and I seriously contemplated calling in sick and just staying home under the covers all day.
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Now that you know my secret, I feel better coming clean: I’m NOT a morning person. However, when it comes to staring the day bright-eyed and bushy tailed, sleep experts offer a few helpful tips. Here’s how to begin the day with eyes wide open when you’d rather just keep sleeping…
1. Cut Social Media Ties Before Bed and When you Rise
If you read or listen to any tips for success-type help articles or podcasts, you’ve likely heard this little tidbit from every thriving business types—like Richard Branson and Oprah—highly successful people wake up early. How do they do this? Well, they certainly don’t use social media in the hours before bedtime or as soon as they wake up.
Numerous studies (including this one from the UCLA School of Medicine) show that social media use in the hours prior to bedtime not only slowly sucks your soul, it also blasts you with bright light that mimics sunlight and convinces our brain that it’s still day time (i.e., by preventing production of melatonin). The same goes for when you wake up. Checking your email and social media upon rising takes the focus off you (and stresses you out with other people’s emotional baggage, demands, and negativity). Instead, keep the focus positive and refuse to waste time on external negativity before you’ve even had a coffee.
2. Read a Happy, Positive Bedtime Story
I have another confession: I’m hooked on crime drama. However, it’s hard as heck to have sweet dreams after a half dozen episodes of How to Get Away with Murder. Sure, the show is heart-pumping excitement, non stop, but that does not a peaceful slumber make.
According to this 2016 article from the Huffington Post, mood and perspective have a vital impact on our frame of mind before bed and our quality of sleep. In fact, what’s on your mind as you settle into bed (if it’s positive) can help you get quality shut eye or (if it’s negative) keep you tossing and turning all night long.
3. Exercise Gratitude
In addition to keeping things positive with a nice, upbeat Garrison Keillor tale from This American Life, you can also start your day off in a happy frame of mind by paying gratitude before you go to bed and when you wake up to help yourself have a better slumber.
This study, conducted by researchers at England’s University of Manchester reported better quality zzzzz in individuals who showed high levels of positivity and gratitude before bed and upon starting the day. So banish the negative (no Fox News) before bed and hang onto the positive (i.e., your family, your friends, your home, your pet, etc.).
4. Get a Motivated Co-Sleeper
There is something about waking up to a wet lick on the nose and a wagging tail in the morning that automatically puts a smile on your face. After all, who can say no when those sad, doggy eyes beg for breakfast at 6AM? Not me!
A motivated pet, spouse, partner, or friend that knocks on your door bright and early for a run can really get you up and at ’em. So enlist the help of a energetic bed mate to make you feel a little guilty about staying in bed past 7AM.
5. Big Stretch
Yoga is a huge industry for a reason. Which is why it shouldn’t surprise you that a wake up stretch can do you a whole lot of good first thing in the morning. Stretching allows you to gradually wake up (easing stress of a quick bolt out of bed) and let’s you begin the day by reconnecting to your body.
Plus, a little early morning stretching session can help boost the metabolism (moderately), work out knots and muscle stiffness, and increase alertness so you don’t need that entire pot of coffee.
6. Place your Alarm Out of Arm’s Reach
Now this one is tough, even for me. I’ve become accustomed to setting the alarm on my smartphone and placing it right beside me on my nightstand. However, when it goes off at 6AM, having my alarm close at hand makes it that much easier to hit snooze…over and over again.
On the other hand, putting your alarm clock across the room will force you to physically get out of bed to turn it off. That or your spouse will punch you (also giving you no choice but to get up and turn it off). Either way, you’ll be up and have no excuse but to start your day.