Get Into A Sleep Routine
Yep, we’re talking bedtimes. We know, you’re all “growns up” now, but let’s face it — the mind and body respond well to routine so the more you can do to keep a fairly similar sleep schedule the better. Research has shown that people who sleep in on the weekends actually feel groggier on Monday mornings than people who rise at their weekday scheduled time and take a nap later in the day. There’s no real way to “catch up” on your sleep unless you’re working on going to be and getting up at roughly the same time. Sure that’s probably going to put a damper on your social calendar but the more you can do to stick to a regular routine, the better.
Ditch The Lights
Saying goodnight to our phones can be tough, or maybe you like to read your Kindle in bed to wind down. It takes a lot of energy and perseverance to disconnect from the digital world, so making a habit of instituting a “no tech” policy in bed is a key to a better night of sleep. Phone screens, Kindles, flat-screen televisions, they all emit sleepless light that has the potential to affect your melatonin levels (the naturally occurring hormones that promote sleep) and disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Blue lights in particular can reduce the production of melatonin and we need that hormone in our body to put ourselves into sleep mode. Try to avoid screen time right before bed (you can listen to the new Kanye song tomorrow) and keep your phone on the other side of the room while you’re sleeping. This will prevent you from reaching for it in the night (BTW - if you’re doing this you have worse problems than lack of sleep) and it will also force you to hop out of bed to shut off your alarm, (almost) preventing you from hitting that evil snooze button.
Wake Up at the Right Time
Those REM cycles that we go through as we sleep have a big impact on how light or heavy we’re sleeping at any given time. If you can schedule a wake up during a lighter REM cycle it’s going to be way easier on your constitution. There’s a tech-savvy approach, which includes tracking your sleep habits with a wearable, like a FitBit or downloading iphone-based apps like Sleep Cycle. These digital monitors can tell how soundly you’re sleeping based on your movements and can be set to wake you up within the ideal 30-minute window. That way you’ll deal with less “sleep inertia” or what that feeling of grogginess really is, as you shake youself awake and stumble out of bed.
Yeah, unfortunately we said it. The snooze has got to go. It might sound like you’re lessening the blow of a wakeup call by setting the alarm for an earlier time to allow you the freedom to snooze a couple times, but this is just delaying the inevitable process of waking up. You’re better off sleeping soundly until your cutoff time and getting the benefit of a deeper REM cycle than by hitting snooze over and over and over again. That small amount of extra sleep you think you are getting is really just going to prolong your feeling of tiredness as it’s not valuable sleep.
Wait An Hour For Coffee
Sure, it might seem tempting to get right up and get that first sip of coffee that touches your soul but it actually can affect how your body functions upon waking. Your body naturally produces hormones that wake you up within the first hour you are awake and interrupting that with a different stimulant like caffine can hamper your body's natural fuctioning. So if you can, go through your morning routine first, then hit the coffee after you're on your way into or at work. The caffine will be more effective and you won't interrupt your body's natural Starbucks-like mechanisms.