We have received many questions lately on how to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t take a break! This article is part 1 of two articles about taking back control over your energy. Click here for part 2: How to sleep well to keep feeling on top of the world
So you’ve just been woken up by your alarm. You’ve slept, but you really, really do not want to move around just yet. You finally manage to slug around the room, then to the kitchen, open the fridge before realising you wanted to brush your teeth in the first place. Can’t your life and your body just get along already?
You can blame your brain for that, as some parts of your brain haven’t warmed up yet. This is especially the case after being suddenly awakened by your alarm, which is definitely not the nicest of feelings to start the day with. No wonder you’d dread the following hours.
Getting To Know Sleep Inertia
These sort of moments you experience when you wake up in the morning are typical scenes of people under sleep inertia. Sleep inertia typically lasts within the first 30 minutes, although it can last up to 4 hours, depending on the conditions you slept in. If you’ve been sleep deprived recently it might even last longer! The usual, most popular response to fight sleep inertia is to just get a quick, nice cup of coffee to dissipate that grey cloud that’s been following you around and killing the mood.
Although sleep inertia is typically considered as a nuisance, you have to be aware that it can translate disastrously into something worse. Studies have found that people under sleep inertia could have a higher tendency to overestimate their own capacities, so you definitely would not want to wake up in the morning and drive shortly after!
So what can you do to make your morning grogginess disappear, or make it at least easier to deal with? There’s good news: There are so many things you can try! We’ll try to cover as many ideas you can try doing, starting right here and right now, let’s get to it!
Giving Yourself All The Time In The World For A Nice Breakfast And Routine
Bacon and eggs, porridge, mozzarella tostis and cappuccino, omelette with pepper and cheese on bread, jam on toast and orange juice, yoghurt with muesli, fruit salad, fried rice, smoothies, pancakes… If there’s one thing that will prepare you for the day, it’s a delicious breakfast. You can’t take over the world on an empty stomach, right?
Admittedly, as of now, we must have heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” so often to the point it’s making us numb to the message. So let’s switch it up into something more appropriate:
“Thy breakfast shall be savoured and appreciated, for it is holy and just plain fantastic”
Alright, maybe it is a bit over the top. But the point is clear: Taking time for your breakfast and just enjoying the moment is no joke. There’s no reason not to look forward to the day when you know your favourite breakfast awaits you in the corner. If you are the sort of person to get up in a hurry for work I dare you, I challenge you to make time for a good breakfast for one week. Not only does a good breakfast supply your body, it supplies your soul.
But turning breakfast into a ritual; a time for taking things slowly, eat something I love and stretch has really made me appreciate the smaller things in life, not to mention it’s helped me get into a better mood every day. I am 100% convinced that if it helped me, it’ll help you. The key is to find your breakfast and find your routine along with it.
Make sure that routine helps you cheer up. I used to wake up in the morning, make some food and watch the news. If you like to stay involved as a person, it’s hard to avoid it, but then comes a certain point where you’ll notice it’s practically void of even one positive story which is just saddening. You don’t want that! So I started reading blogs for instance. Webcomics are also great as they’re short, fun and sweet. Podcasts, audiobooks or your favourite radio are also fun options to start the day, especially if you don’t want to look at screens yet.
6 examples of things you could do once you wake up the morning are:
- A morning tea or coffee ritual
- Watching funny videos
- Reading some nice webcomics
- Taking a stroll in the neighbourhood or at the park
- Do some stretching exercises (or just plainly stretch), perhaps yoga. Wake yourself up by waking up your limbs!
- Jam to your favourite musicians, move that body!
It’s all about the small things. While negative motivation, in the style of “If I don’t get up now I will be late for work” may work fine, over the long run it’s not really nice to get up every single day like that. So what you’d want at the end of the day is to look forward to the day instead of dreading it! Just remember it’s nothing more than scheduling a “me” time to start the day, so don’t get too distracted if it’s not the weekend.
Lastly, all of this serves as a time for you to break a monotonous pattern. Feel free to mix up morning activities to keep your days fresh!
Alarm Clock Tips
If you have an alarm clock it would be a good idea to turn the time away in case you ever wake up in the middle of the night. The last thing you need is to stress out about the remaining time you have to sleep, which will not help you in the slightest and keep you awake. Before you know it, you would be caught in a vicious cycle, so avoid that by letting your body clock tell you the time instead. This also applies to phones, actually even more so considering someone could disturb you and you’d feel compelled to not only watch the screen but also the time on it.
Another great tip to help you wake up in the morning is to move the alarm away, whether that’s an actual alarm clock or your phone, is to force yourself to get up by placing it far enough so that you’d have to get up to turn it off. There are extreme versions in which you literally place money, which it will shred if you dare snooze… Drastic measures would be an understatement, but you can’t deny the terrifying potential.
Another tip, if you haven’t done so already, is to find the perfect alarm sound for you. It can be a song, it can be a phone jingle, but find a tune that can wake you up hundreds of times without ever irritating you.
I currently use flute sounds which I personally find soothing yet pleasant to wake up to. Just like meeting someone for the first time, getting the right first impression of the day will do half the work. I would definitely recommend playing around with the songs and find what suits you best. You can also switch it up every month or so to keep things fresh.
Lastly, when you wake up in the morning try to jump out of the bed as soon as the alarm goes off. This is because your body and mind are at odds with each other when you wake up. Don’t think about doing it, just do it. Associate the alarm with jumping out of a bed, the same way you associate a brand or drink with a jingle. You can thank auditory stimulation for that. Moreover, if you wake up laying down it’ll be that much more tempting to fall asleep again, if you’re at least sitting up, like people who are awake usually do, your senses will react accordingly.
Now look, it’s true, unlike actual alarms we’re not like clockwork. There’ s nothing like just being able to slug around with no cares and troubles. However, being able to plan ahead and keep to schedules are a real productive advantage to have, as it trains your organisation, self-discipline and self-control. It means you are strong enough against yourself and resist the smaller temptations that could distract you from your goals
The first no-no to waking up energised is to wake up in the morning and barely giving yourself time to actually wake up, after which you already head to work. It’s like biking against the wind first thing after work, and who wants to start off like that?
Second no-no: Similarly to waking up and leaving immediately, is miscalculating the time you need to wake up and get rid of that grogginess. If it seems like your morning doesn’t have enough time, then plan some extra time for you to wake up, even if it means getting up earlier.
Next, if you plan for your morning, you should also plan for the night. We’re certainly not the only ones saying this, but it can’t be mentioned enough: If you want to wake up in the morning with energy to spare getting enough sleep is important, in quantity and especially in the quality of that sleep.
The 90-minute rule
The 90-minute rule states that we typically sleep in cycles. You might recall a time where you woke up in the morning, still early and figuring you could sleep another 40 minutes only to wake up groggier than before. Here is why:
Roughly an hour is spent on normal regular sleep (including the time you need to go to sleep in the first place), followed by some 20 minutes of REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement, in which dreams are most likely to occur) and finally a short period of non-REM sleep. This would make up one cycle, which is then repeated. Therefore you would get 1.30 hours, 3 hours, 4.30 hours, 6 hours, 7.30 hours and 9 hours (or beyond, if you feel like hibernating). What this means is that it’s technically better to sleep 7.30 hours instead of 8, or 8.30 hours since that would break the cycle, and you’d end up fighting sleep inertia. If you wake up in the middle of the night, chances are you just got out of a cycle. This is normal as the phase in between your completed cycle and your next one is a moment of light sleep which can be easily disturbed by cold, some noises or your bladder demanding attention.
In short, next time you naturally wake up in the morning, if you don’t intend on sleeping another 90 minutes it’s better to just get up then. You can spend the gained wake time in the morning to do something instead! Perhaps a nice salad with cherry tomatoes and feta? What about a smoothie, or how about a nice, smooth porridge and take the time to enjoy it? Soup is also a great idea!
Get Into Good Habits
If you want to wake up fresh and renewed, you’ll have to make sure to get a good night’s sleep. Try the following suggestions. While there is no need to follow them like it’s national law, they’re certainly good things to turn into habits.
Water famously makes up around 60% of our bodies, but the brain has an even higher rate (73%!). Although you may be sleeping, your brain never actually does. It’s too busy reorganising memories and supervising your body during that time, so it makes sense to keep it supplied. Here are some benefits a hydrated body will give you:
- Better focus and less fatigue. Once again, water makes up ¾ of our brain.
- A more performing immune system, thus keeping you healthier
- Fewer toxins in the body which get flushed out through sweat and urination
The general recommendation is 8 to 10 glasses of water, equivalent to 1,5 to 2 litres a day. Keep drinking water during the day, even if you’re not that thirsty at the moment (but don’t overdo it either).
This is a better idea than drinking water all at once for two reasons: Firstly your body hydrates slowly, bit by bit which makes drinking throughout the day more efficient. Secondly, you can probably guess the fun times you’ll be having in the bathroom… So besides fuelling your brain make sure you keep drinking glasses of water throughout the day if you don’t want to wake up often at night!
Cut back on coffee consumption.
As a coffee fanatic, I’ll be the first to cringe, but the science is there. Yes, coffee is awesome and yes, it’s a wonder drug that boosts your capacity to get stuff done. But you should definitely consume coffee in moderation, especially if you’re fuelled by mugs.
Not only will your heart thank you overall, but regular consumption of coffee raises your heartbeat, whereas your heart needs to slow down to help you sleep soundly. And remember: Caffeine is a diuretic, so over-consumption forces more water out of your body through urine, thus dehydrating you. Too much of a good thing can turn sour, so choose your coffee times more strategically. Personally, I try to stick to proper, concentrated Italian espressos (meaning 30ml or 1oz in quantity), double shots/lungos for heavy duty days and often cut back whenever I feel I’m building resistance to caffeine.
Some alternatives you can try out instead of a coffee break include eating fruit or drinking a glass of water instead. Going outside for some fresh air is also a great idea, going for a walk is even better if you have the time!
Cut back on sugar consumption.
Cutting back on treats, especially sodas and non-freshly made fruit juices (they’re packed with added sugar, which is different from natural sugars from the fruits themselves) is also a good measure to take. Sugary drinks, even with added vitamins etc. usually add little to no significant benefits over plain good old water. In fact, you might be more prone to sugar crashes, guess what the treatment for that is? A small intake of sugar, of course. If you’re feeling less well at first that may be normal: you’d be experiencing withdrawal symptoms of a product that’ s practically as addictive as cocaine. But you’d be trading short-term boosts over long term energy. Sugar by itself is not evil, but its omnipresence makes it tricky to resist temptations.
Don’t drink alcohol to go to bed or near bedtime
It may be tempting to drink a nice glass of wine before going to bed, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a nice glass and a movie for example. But drinking alcohol as a means to help you sleep is very misleading. Although alcohol may indeed be sleep-inducing, it messes with your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stages, when you are at the deepest level of sleep. In other words, you may very well fall asleep but the lack of quality of the sleep won’t make it worth it. You won’t wake up in the morning and be on your A-game, not to mention that reliance on alcohol can lead to addiction.
3 Other Tips To Wake Up In The Morning. Afresh, Afresh, Afresh...
Work out / cardio
Working out keeps your body fit, and a sound body is a sound mind. Similarly, cardio exercises are good for your sleep in the long run as even though your heartbeat may be pounding faster while exercising, if done properly your resting heart rate will lower naturally, which in turn benefits your quality of sleep. However, since exercise gives you energy it’s not a great idea to work out late in the evening.
Accept the outside
Another tip to naturally wake up in the morning is to regulate your body clock. If you have access to sunlight or at least daylight in your bedroom, let the light in. Sunlight is the natural alarm humans have used for millennia, therefore it’s always a reliable element to adjust your body clock back to the exterior 24h clock. Light tells your body to stop producing additional melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you sleep.
Furthermore, it’s also a good idea to keep your room fresh and ventilated when you can, by opening the window for example. The ideal room temperature to help you fall asleep should be between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius or 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Speaking of ventilation, Vita Talalay mattresses, mattress toppers and pillows are so breathable that you will always stay comfortable, whether it’s cold or warm.
Say good morning to your loved one:
This is still one of my favourites: Waking up in the morning together with your partner and HUG. Not a hug, but HUG. I don’t know if there’s scientific data to support it, or if I should even care but there’s just a magical quality to it that’s hard to describe, not to mention that’s it’s great for keeping a healthy relationship. When I bounce off the bed to turn off the alarm and feel groggy, then set it to 20 more minutes before creeping back to bed as we slowly wake up together… It’s just… Haaa it’s so great! The grogginess just dissipates! Actually, who needs coffee anyway? Stretch your muscles and feel good with a good old affectionate HUG!
I admit this is a privilege mainly couples enjoy, but every morning that starts off like that is something worth cherishing. And what better way to put the cherry on the cake than to follow it with a good breakfast?
• A good day starts with a good breakfast
• Be on good terms with your alarm
• Keeping to good routines and schedules will lead to good habits
• Get synchronised with your sleeping cycles thanks to the 90-minute rule