Image by: Howard Lebowitz
By London Foster
You know the feeling. You’re woken up at the crack of dawn by your alarm clock and repeatedly hit the snooze button. Even though it’s 30 minutes in, you still can’t figure out how to get out of bed.
I wish I could be one of those morning people that can just spring out of bed and hit the pavement in my running shoes, but it’s usually halted by my sluggishness. Thanks to being a night owl, seems like I’m not alone. Many people feel the need to cozy up, especially during the work week or on a cold day. Those are the worst.
According to Colette Haward, MD and New York City psychiatrist, our circadian rhythms are tied to our genetic makeup. However, small behavior changes can make a big impact. It usually takes a few weeks to a better sleep pattern. I’m yawning already but I can do it and you can too. I have faith in you!
#1) Size Up Your Sleeping Patterns
The best way to track down whether or not you have a sleeping disorder is to record when you get into bed, when you wake up and how many times you wake up in the middle of the night.
Waking up in the middle of the night happens to all of us- I for one, normally toss and turn when something exciting is about to happen, like my birthday or a big trip. So a couple nights here and there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm.
Exactly what makes it difficult for some people to get out of bed? It might be as simple as changing your habits.
#2) Log Your Routine
No lie, most nights I end up going to bed at 1 a.m. This is because I relish in those nights I get to stay up and do whatever I want while my 3 year old is asleep. I’ve chosen either to get up early in the morning before he wakes up or late at night and I chose…night. However, I’ve been getting better at gradually getting to bed earlier, at least 11:30. Hey, it’s a start.
Dr. Haward says, “”Many people think they’re getting more or less than they actually are. Your sleep cycle is pushed back a few hours. It’s delayed at night, which causes excessive sleepiness in the morning and during the day.”
Another hazard to your sleep is sleeping later on weekends which can throw off your internal clock. According to Haward, we all have an internal clock that regulates our sleep cycle. It enlists an army of “hormone-helpers” to knock you out and wake you up. Cortisol is what wakes you up in the morning, while melatonin is a built-in mellow, put- you- to-sleep enzyme.
We should all be getting up around the same time and going to bed at the same time, according to our own individual internal clocks. Your time might be 9, my sleepiness might kick in at around 7, it’s just that sometimes I choose to ignore it, which I know I shouldn’t.
#3) Reset Your Circadian Rhythms
To get back on track, you simply need a regulated sleep schedule. The times you go to bed and wake up are unique to your individual rhythm. Some people are more wired to sleep more, while others can zip through the day with as little as 4 hours of sleep a night.
Sleepyheads tend to secrete more melatonin lending to that lazy effect that we feel sometimes. This isn’t to use as an excuse the next time you’re late somewhere, “Sorry I’m late, my melatonin levels were high.” That’s not going to fly.
#4) Let Your Body Be Your Guide
Your body knows best and it will also let you know when it’s ready for some shuteye. For one week, try setting up a time to get up. So, if my little one gets to bed around 7:30p.m. and wakes up at 6:30, it’s a good idea that I get to bed by at least 9:30 so that I can be up and ready to play when he wakes up. The goal is to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
You can adjust your schedule to whatever you see fit. The idea is to get your body use to the idea of going to bed at a particular time so that you feel rested.
#5) Create a Sleep Regimen
Dark is ideal. A dark, quiet and cool room is best. According to Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, your brain is constantly interpreting stimuli, even in your sleep. A white-noise machine or a fan can block out any distractions and get you on the road to better sleep.
Try a wool blanket which is best at whisking away sweat and keeping you cool.
#6) Have a 3-step Plan
Create a routine that will lull you to sleep 30 minutes before you’re ready to slumber.
1. Take a hot bath, which drops your body temperature, encouraging you to sleep.
2. Jot down your worries to clear your mind so that you can sleep better.
No televisions, cell phones or computers. These devices all have a blue light that is said to inhibit melatonin.
There it is, 6 steps to becoming a morning person. What do you say? Are you with me?
Tell us about your bedtime routines. Are you having trouble sleeping? Perhaps these steps will help!