Do you wake up feeling refreshed most mornings? Most people when asked will answer this one with a no. For many living the modern, adrenal-based lifestyle, getting up in the mornings is the hardest part of the day.
The body is designed to experience a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. When you’re in a good state of health you feel energised upon waking and find it easy to get up and get going (whether you have your morning coffee or not).
If you consistently feel tired, foggy and sluggish, your body is issuing a report card to flag your health is out of balance. If this sounds a bit like you, there are many small lifestyle changes you can make that will help you break thru the morning fog. Try them consistently for a week or two and see if you can register the difference.
1. Establish a regular sleep and wake time If you want to wake up feeling good on a regular basis, aim to get up and go to bed at the same time every day. The body loves routine. For optimum results, it is better to be in bed before 10pm and up with the sunrise. (NB: the latter is actually more important than getting the recommended 8 hours sleep).
2. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime Caffeine later in the day can prevent a good nights sleep. It takes the body roughly 5-7 hours to eliminate half of the caffeine you’ve ingested (after 8-10 hours 75% of it should have been eliminated). Also, many people are genetically inclined to metabolise caffeine a lot more slowly than others. These people can drink a coffee at 10am and still have issues sleeping that night. If you are looking to wake up feeling good the next day, avoid caffeine at least 10 hours before bed (caffeine is found in coffee, black/white/green teas, colas and chocolate).
3. Avoid dinner just before bed Modern day life has left many of us time poor. Which means little time to eat a meal let alone prepare one. Eating late when you get home from work is one of the worst things you can do for a good nights sleep. Eating dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed is the ideal. If this isn’t possible due to late work hours, consider packing a light dinner to eat at work earlier on or consider skipping dinner altogether and having a light high protein snack before bed instead (as per below).
4. The irony of alcohol A lot of people have a glass or two of wine at night in order to unwind enough to be able to fall sleep. Whilst alcohol temporarily sedates you, it can wake you up through the night by wreaking havoc with your blood sugar, causing you to wake up tired, nauseous and sometimes even dizzy. Alcohol also dehydrates you, potentially causing you to go to the toilet when you should be sleeping and to feel tired and foggy the next morning. If you really can’t say no to an evening drink, it is better to at least drink clear spirits with fresh soda and lime/lemon vs sugary wines and beer.
6. Go to the toilet before you go to bed, even if you don’t feel like it The quality of your sleep also largely on the number of consecutive hours you get in, making it important to have uninterrupted sleep. Most people’s sleep is interrupted by a trip to the loo in the middle of the night. Therefore it’s a good idea to try to urinate on the toilet before you head to bed (whether you feel like it or not).
7. Exercise early in the day Early exercise helps to physically tire you out thus making it easier to fall into a deep sleep at night. Avoid exercising 3-4 hours before bedtime as it will raise your heart rate thus stimulate the body, potentially energising and “waking it up” when it should be heading to bed.
8. Unplug it Avoid the use of electronics, such as mobile phones, laptops, computers, iPads and televisions, for at least an hour before bed. These devices emit and electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) which can disrupt the hormones that regulate your sleep-wake cycle as well as your natural circadian rhythm. If you have to use electronics, use extensions on your computer that block out the blue light that can also keep you awake. F.lux is a great option for laptops and tablets.
9. Ensure your sinuses are clear Blocked sinuses prevent the oxygenation of every cell in your body. This ultimately causes depleted energy levels as both glucose and oxygen are used to produce ATP (the energy that drives every metabolic reaction in your body). Blocked sinuses can be caused by a variety of factors but are more commonly caused by food intolerances and environmental allergies (such as those to pollen or dust). If you clean your nasal passageway before bed, you are more likely to feel more refreshed in the morning oxygen will have a clearer pathway to get in. Do this by using a FESS kit or netty pot that both work to wash debris such as mucous or waste material out.
10. Sleep in total darkness (it’s also great for your hormones) Melatonin is the hormone that puts you and keeps you to sleep, and it is only secreted by your pineal gland in total darkness. To ensure melatonin can do it’s job:
- Avoid bright, flickering and/or artificial lights as you prepare for sleep.
- Banish night-lights in the bedroom (even those for your kids).
- If you have to have electronics in your bedroom, turn them off at the wall. The small power button lights emit enough light to affect those that are sensitive.
- If you have bright streetlights by your bedroom window, ensure you have adequate blinds/curtains to block the artificial light out.
- Consider using a sleeping mask.
11. Keep the window open Breathing fresh air throughout the night ensures you’ll wake up feeling fresher in the morning. Leaving the window open (or partly open) allows for fresh oxygen to float in and harmful carbon dioxide (that you breathe out) float outside. Leaving the window a little open also ensures the room doesn’t get too hot throughout the night, allowing for a more restful sleep.
12. Eliminate noise as much as you can Did you know that consistent sleep disruption that is caused by outside noise could actually reduce your life span? Some of those noises might include outside traffic noise, neighbours partying into the night or even a loud snoring partner. In any case, a good pair of ear plugs would serve you well and will ensure a restful nights sleep. For maximum noise preventing, opt for the foam earplugs at the chemist. If you have tiny ears like me, you might want to consider buying some wax earplugs (which fit better but don’t filter out as much noise as the foams ones) or getting your own pair of custom made ear plugs from your local audiologist.