Let’s be honest, there are probably few people who truly enjoy the early rise of a working weekday morning. One study has shown that for 70 per cent of Britons, setting an alarm for the following morning is one of the last actions of the day - and yet only 10 per cent rise to that alarm on the first ring, with the rest confessing to a ten minute process of grumbling, tossing and turning.
While much research has been carried out into the problematic process of sleep and staying asleep, there is less information around the important process of how we actually wake up. Speaking to the Telegraph Angela Clow, Professor of Psychophysiology at the University of Westminster said, “People completely ignore the waking-up process and it’s so important, as new research is beginning to show. How you wake up predicts how well you’re going to function over the rest of the day.” Explaining further she goes on to say that when we wake our brains get a burst of cortisol, a stress hormone that scientists previously believed had a negative effect on the body. It’s now known that this burst, known as the cortisol awakening response (CAR), is in fact a positive, natural process that “primes the rest of the brain for maximum functioning,” and helps to release stored energy and prepare the muscles for action.
So, what can we do to help catalyse our CAR? This week we sat down with a number of industry experts to find out. Here are their top ten tips on how to jump out of bed with a bit more of a spring in your step...
1. Late night dose of dairy
“Many people swear by a warm glass of milk at bedtime. Though a problematic food for many of us , it contains a naturally relaxing protein which helps with good sleep,” advises nutritional therapist Petronella Ravenshear . “If milk is off the menu look for a supplement that contains hydrolyzed casein – this means the milk protein is pre-digested and unlikely to cause digestive problems.”
2. Morning mantras
“Always leave some time in the morning to do a mindful reflection on the day ahead,” advises Terrence. “Make the reflection as positive as possible. You could even set up a mantra for the day, including ideas such as; ‘today I will stay calm and joyous’, ‘today I will achieve everything I set out to achieve, in a relaxed manner’, ‘today will be a great day’. This will help you to leave your bed feeling calm, excited and ready for a day full of wonderful experiences.”
3. Banish blue light
“Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland (a small gland in the brain) and helps to control your sleep and wake cycles,” says holistic health expert Alla Svirinskaya . “Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid-to late evening, remaining high for most of the night and then dropping in the early hours of the morning. Light, especially the blue spectrum, affects how much melatonin your body produces. So, it’s important to minimise your exposure to blue light generated screens, such as smartphones and computers. You can download programs from the Internet that automatically reduce the blue light in your screens after 5pm. You can also buy yellow tinted glasses which neutralises blue light should you need to work on a computer many hours after 5pm. Blackout blinds in our bedrooms also are essential to minimise light pollution. However, first thing you should do when wake up is to open curtains to get light in!” Try using your phone's night shift mode for better sleep.
4. Cosiness is key
“Make your bedroom dark and cosy,” says Clinical Hypnotherapist Terrence The Teacher . “Make it a temperature that really aids your sleep to help you drift off quickly and calmly.”
5. Protein punch
“ Eating protein in the evening helps to keep our blood sugar levels stable overnight for more restful sleep,” says Petronella . “Fish, as well as chicken and eggs contain good amounts of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin and then to melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone and it’s released into our bodies when darkness falls.”
6. Cleanse and de-clutter
“Clutter drains our energy,” says Alla. “It also constantly reminds you of unfinished business. Many people have trouble waking up not because they did not have enough sleep but as a means of avoiding facing life. It is almost like we are escaping into our sleep. So, when you open your eyes in the morning, an environment around you should be balanced, clean and eye pleasing.”
7. Prepare for the morning the night before
“Have a wakeup time that is manageable for you and set an alarm that will definitely wake you,” suggests Terrence . “Keep your morning activities trimmed down - the less you have to do before you set off into your day, the less stressed you will be. To save some extra time in the morning set out your outfit for the next day or make sure all your house, office and car keys are where you will easily find them.”
8. Leafy greens are good
“ Magnesium is vital for relaxation and for helping us get to sleep and stay asleep,” says Petronella . “Waking in the night and being unable to drop off again may well be a sign of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium rich foods include all green vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Cocoa is also a great source of magnesium, but its caffeine content makes it a less than ideal bedmate.”
9. A good mattress matters
"The right mattress can make the difference between a restorative night’s sleep and poor quality sleep,” says Alla . “A lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, which can leave you feeling tired in the morning. Your mattress needs to be firm enough to support your body’s weight, but must also conform to your body’s contours. Natural bed linen allows your aura to restore during your sleep - but synthetic fibres turns our auric field into a ‘pressure cooker’. You will have more energy in the morning if during the night your energy ‘breathes out’ negative energy from the previous day.” We love Simba's hybrid mattresses .
10. Introduce a routine
“Have a night time routine that helps you to switch off,” suggests Terrence . “It can be anything from a calming facial routine to hanging away clothing (an exercise I often give my clients, where I advise them to imagine hanging away their stress of the day with each clothing item).”
What are your tried and tested tricks for sleeping better or waking up more easily? Let us know in the comments!