Morning people. You're either with them, or you're definitely not. It's easy to think early risers are simply born that way, with some natural predisposition to bouncing out of bed, but truth be told anyone can become an early riser, and no it's not only about going to bed early.
Really giving yourself a shot at morphing into a morning person starts long before you get home from work. "The build-up of the stress hormone cortisol in our systems significantly affects our sleep quality, as well as our ability to drift off easily,” says sleep expert Elina Winnel . We asked Elina to share her best advice on how to become a person who genuinely loves getting out of bed in the morning.
Stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon
Caffeine is a stimulant, and it disrupts sleep. A study conducted by researchers at Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital’s Sleep Disorders & Research Centre in the US found that caffeine consumed 6 hours before bed reduced total nightly sleep amounts by more than 1 hour. They suggest your last cup should be no later than 2pm.
Brighten up your room
Studies have shown that vibrant colours help activate the energy cells, so paint your bedroom a bright, cheery colour to wake up to, and open your blinds or curtains as soon as you stir to let light in.
Cut back on booze
While it may seem that having a drink relaxes you -- which is true – it can also interfere with your deep sleep. Lying in bed awake from 3am while your body deals with the alcohol may not quite be the early morning you had in mind.
Don’t eat late at night
Studies have found eating two hours before bed harms your sleep. If you must eat, eat foods like nuts, seeds, bananas, honey and eggs because they are high in tryptophan: an amino acid that makes you sleepy.
Step away from the screen
Blue light suppresses our melatonin production – and melatonin is our sleep hormone. “Blue light acts like the sun – telling our brains it is daytime, even if it is night,” says Elina. You can download an app (try justgetflux.com for your laptop, or Twilight, for your phone) or change the settings on your devices to block out this “blue” light. At home, dim your lights 2 hours before bed, avoid fluorescent lighting, and stick to the “warmer” tones.
Move the alarm clock
It’s an obvious one – but it works. If the hardest part of getting out of bed is literally getting out of bed, move the alarm to the other side of the room so you’re forced to get up to switch it off. And don’t press snooze - according to the Sleep Disorders Center at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, it’s easier getting up when the alarm first rings, rather than waking up, falling asleep again, and then waking up a second time.
Get a routine
You can train your brain and body into knowing when it’s time to go to sleep (so you can wake refreshed) by establishing a routine. At the same time every evening begin laying out your outfit for the next day, turning lights down, packing your bag – all of which will signal your intent to go to sleep. Have everything you need on hand to prepare your favourite breakfast when you get up.
Get back into your body
Elina suggests doing something directly before bed that moves you out of the busy mind, and grounds you into your body. For example, a nice bath, a yoga practice, or giving yourself a foot massage. “If your mind is over-active, it can mean your awareness is in head, and not in your body. If our bodies are actually saying to us “I’m tired” but our brains are saying “I’m wired”, and we are not aware of what is happening in our bodies, then we don’t register the signal that we are actually tired. Shifting your attention and awareness downwards into your body will allow you to tap into your body’s signals of tiredness. When you feel tired, you are more likely to go to bed, and fall asleep.”