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There’s no better way to start the day than to wake up early and full of energy. These 6 steps will make you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
BY LISSA COFFEY
Editor’s note: Savvy mattress retailers want to do everything they can to help their customers sleep better, including offering them sound advice and tips. Feel free to share this great guidance from Better Sleep Council spokeswoman Lissa Coffey with your shoppers (with credit given, of course). The BSC is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.
Rise and shine! Doesn’t that sound great? Or are you more likely to hit the snooze button and pull the covers over your head? Many of us have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Ideally, when we’re getting all the good sleep we need, we wake up naturally before the alarm goes off. Yet, sometimes it’s a struggle. If you’d like to start your day with some pep in your step, I’ve put together six guidelines to help you become a morning person.
“Ikigai” is a Japanese term that relates to having joy in your life and a reason to get up in the morning. In the practice of ikigai it is important to get up early in the morning. This is a hallmark in Japanese culture — getting up with the sun and being tuned in with nature’s cycle of day and night. The morning sun is what gets the rooster crowing — a farm’s natural alarm clock. Not many of us have roosters hanging around, so it’s up to us to set the alarm. Light is a cue for us to awaken, so open the curtains and raise the blinds. You might want to invest in motorized blinds that come with a remote control so you can let in the morning sun without getting out of bed.
There are some areas where technology works to our advantage. Today, we have all kinds of apps to help us wake up if we can’t do it on our own. Whatever you do, do not hit “snooze.” If you fall back asleep, you could end up interrupting your sleep cycle and waking up groggy instead of refreshed. We now can buy alarm clocks that gradually provide light that mimics sunrise. Some clocks also have nature sounds to gently wake us up. If you must have your phone or device in the bedroom, put it on the other side of the room. Then, when the alarm sounds, you have to actually get up to turn it off. But just turn it off. Don’t start checking messages, emails or the news until you’re done with your morning routine and ready to get to work.
In the practice of ikigai, mornings are for mindfulness. When you get up, make the bed first thing. You’ll have an instant feeling of accomplishment, and the bed will be even more inviting when you want to go to sleep. If making the bed seems like a chore, think minimalist and do away with a few decorative pillows. Many coffeepots and tea kettles are programmable to start brewing before the alarm goes off, so the aroma gives you extra incentive to get up — and a cup of joe is waiting for you when you are ready for it. Pay attention to the details and savor every bite of your breakfast. It’s good to have something warm to eat in the morning. Start the day with stewed apples or pears and add in some almonds or walnuts. The cooked fruit will help to kick-start your digestion and the nuts will help stabilize your blood sugar. Turn on some happy music to boost your mood while you’re making it.
Take a walk in the morning sun. You’ll get some exercise and a dose of vitamin D at the same time. Bonus points if you have a dog to walk as pets typically provide good company and entertainment value, as well. Stretch, meditate, read an inspirational quote — all of this sets the tone for a good day ahead.
Anything you can do the night before to get ready for the morning helps you to save time and energy so you don’t feel stressed or rushed. Rather than standing in your closet in the morning trying to figure out what to wear, choose your outfit the night before and have it ready to go. The fewer decisions you have to make in the morning the better. The idea of a work “uniform” is growing in popularity for this very reason. Classic black pants, a white shirt or blouse, comfy shoes and you’re good to go pretty much anywhere, anytime. Prepack your backpack, briefcase or lunch bag so you don’t even have to think about it in the morning — less stress!
Make morning appointments to inspire yourself to get up early. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish all day when you get into gear right away. Maybe sign up for a morning class at the gym or join a club that holds breakfast meetings. When there are other people to hold you accountable, it can be motivating for everyone involved.
Though it is tempting to want to sleep in on the weekend, doing so will make getting up on Monday morning more difficult. Try to stay on the same routine all through the week. Think of all the great things you can accomplish on weekend mornings. Take that hike you’ve been hearing about or write that novel you’ve been dreaming of. Enjoy the sunrise.
Of course, the key to waking up with a smile is to sleep well during the night. If you want to be an early bird, you can’t be a night owl, too. Prepare for a good morning the night before. Stick with your sleep routine and practice good sleep habits. An investment in your sleep is an investment in your health. Is your mattress in good shape and comfortable? Are your bed linens soft and cozy? Does your pillow support your neck? Make your bedroom inviting so you look forward to sleep and sleep soundly. Then you’re be more likely to wake up refreshed and happy — just like a morning person.
Not convinced that the early bird lifestyle is for you? There actually are many health advantages to being a morning person. According to Science Daily, morning people have a better metabolism and are naturally thinner than night owls. A research study in Spain showed that morning people tend to be more detail oriented and conscientious, and they are considered to be more proactive in the workplace. The University of Toronto found that morning people (those who rise at 7 a.m. or earlier) reported greater feelings of happiness and alertness. And a study in Germany showed that students who woke up early had a grade point average that was a full point higher than their night-owl peers.
Looks like the adage could be true, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise.” Give it a try and see if it works for you.
Lissa Coffey is a relationship expert, author of several books and broadcast journalist. A spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council, she stars in several videos that offer sleep and mattress-shopping tips for consumers.