Getting a good night's rest and starting your day with energy is about the best thing you can do for yourself, but it's a tall order. With a few small adjustments to your morning and nightly routines, however, you can feel more awake and active each day.
Note: If you have real sleep issues, a couple of tricks aren't going to fix them and you should see a sleep specialist. For a little help beforehand, however, check out our guide to common sleep problems.
Getting a good night's rest can require everything to be just right or your body won't understand that you want it to sleep for the next eight hours. Let's take a look at some simple things you can do to send it the right message so you can get the rest you need.
Avoid Direct Light a Few Hours Before Sleep
Light helps keep you awake and aware during the day, but it makes sleep difficult. You don't have to worry about the sun in the evening, of course, but you will get excessive amounts of light from consumer electronics. If you want to fall asleep more easily, consider banning the use of backlit electronics such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and televisions before bed. If you need to make an exception, do it in a well-lit room and not in the dark. The Los Angeles Times explains the effects:
[S]taring at the screen before bed could leave you lying awake. That's because direct exposure to such abnormal light sources inhibits the body's secretion of melatonin, say several sleep experts. [...] Light-emitting devices, including mobile phones and yep, the iPad, tell the brain to stay alert. Because users hold those devices so close to their face, staring directly into the light, the effect is amplified compared with, say, a TV across the room or a bedside lamp, said Frisca Yan-Go, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders centre in Santa Monica.
Just set a time each night when you should to turn off the electronics. If necessary, you can always set a reminder so you don't forget.
Light wakes you up like nothing else. An alarm can be jarring, but light is natural, gradual and helps you feel more alert when the morning comes. If you can't time your sleep schedule to the sunrise, consider getting an alarm that uses ambient light to help you wake up more easily. These come in the form of software, DIY hardware or an alarm you can buy. Regardless of how you go about it, waking up naturally provides much more energy.
Drink a Glass of Water, Then Eat Breakfast
You've heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — and it certainly can be. You should eat as soon as you can each morning so you get the nutrition you need to start your day. That said, drink a glass of water first. Your body needs water more than food, after eight hours you're likely a little dehydrated, and a glass of water will prevent you from eating too much in the morning because it will fill you up a bit.
Fit in Five Minutes of Exercise
Exercise boosts your heart rate and gets your blood flowing, which will help you feel more alert. Some people don't love to exercise early in the morning because they don't feel up to it, but just a little bit can do the trick. A cycle of pushups is a great way to start. Not only will you benefit from the exercise itself, but you'll raise your body temperature. This will allow you to take a cooler shower and lower temperatures will also help you wake up further.