Even if you maintain the right amount of sleep each night, your morning habits might be putting a dampener on your wakefulness. It is vital to have a natural, stress-free morning ritual in place, allowing for your day to start-off positively as you wake up in the morning. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you wake up in the healthiest possible manner.
One of the most significant factors for waking up easily has to do with your circadian rhythm. According to the National Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythm, which is our biological clock, controls the timing of periods of wakefulness and sleepiness during the day. This rhythm has peaks and dips throughout the day, with the strongest sleep drive occurring around 2 to 4 am and 1 to 3 pm. These sensations of sleepiness will be less extreme if you have had adequate sleep.
It is important to plan your motivation for waking-up at a certain time the day and evening before. Having a set reason for waking up in the morning will help drive your mind out of bed, whether it is to have the extra time to exercise or eat a healthy breakfast.
Exposure to bright light immediately upon waking up can help set your biological clock to be in acceptance of your wake up time and regulate your hormone levels for proper attentiveness. A study conducted at the University of Chicago in 2000 found that exposure to early morning bright light resulted in instantaneous inhibition of melatonin secretion. According to the National Sleep Foundation, melatonin is a natural hormone associated with the onset of sleep. The same study also observed a robust release of the hormone cortisol in response to bright light when waking up early in the morning, promoting alertness. The regulation of these hormones with early morning bright light is a natural, healthy way to get your body prepared for the day ahead.
A study completed in 2004 at the University of Luebeck in Germany found that cortisol secretion, after awakening, was substantially decreased in patients with insomnia. A decreased level of cortisol secretion in the morning will affect overall alertness throughout the day, disturbing your sleep-wake cycle and causing you to wake up tired. It is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional if you feel you are experiencing insomnia symptoms such as frequent awakenings throughout the night, feeling of weakened sleep quality, or decreased feeling of recovery after sleeping.
Waking up to a piercing loud alarm clock causes stress on the body. Waking up naturally is the healthiest way to rise in the morning. This is an indicator that your body has had sufficient rest. Since this method can be very difficult, it is suggested to have someone gently wake you up, or rather use an alarm clock with soft, relaxing tones for a less abrupt awakening. If possible, you should remain in bed for about a half an hour upon awakening. Listening to soft music or reading will gently awaken your body and allow for proper focus.
Without fluid intake throughout the night, your body will not function at its full potential in the morning without water. It is vital to hydrate your body with water in the morning to increase peristaltic action in your colon. This will help make your body feel hydrated again and stimulate your digestive processes early in the day, preventing constipation.
If you feel that you are experiencing difficulty waking up in the morning and have tried these simple steps on how to wake up, it is important that you talk to a healthcare professional about your sleep habits. Your body’s overall health is extremely dependent upon your sleep-wake cycle, as well as your sleep habits. Experiencing proper sleep and awakening naturally allows your body to maximize its energy and alertness throughout the day.
Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock [Internet]. National Sleep Foundation. [cited 2014 Oct 31]. Available from: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock
How to Wake Up in the Morning: 5 Key Steps to a Healthy Morning Ritual [Internet]. 2007 Mar 23. Body Ecology [cited 2014 Oct 31]. Available from: http://bodyecology.com/articles/how_to_wake_up.php#.VFP87PTF8sM
Leproult R, Colecchia EF, L’Hermite-Baleriaux M, Van Cauter E. Transition from Dim to Bright Lift in the Morning Induces an Immediate Elevation of Cortisol Levels. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2001; 86(1):151-157.
Backhaus J, Junghanns K, Hohagen F. Sleep disturbances are correlated with decreased morning awakening salivary cortisol. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004; 29(9):1184-1191
Vann, M. 11 Tricks To Waking Up In The Morning [Internet]. 2013 Feb 25. The Huffington Post. [updated 2014 Sept 15; cited 2014 Oct 31]. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/tricks-waking-up-sleep_n_2718257.html
Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:
Baehr, E. K., Revelle, W., & Eastman, C. I. (2000). Individual differences in the phase and amplitude of the human circadian temperature rhythm: with an emphasis on morningness–eveningness. Journal of sleep research, 9(2), 117-127.
Sack, R. L., Auckley, D., Auger, R. R., Carskadon, M. A., Wright, K. P., & Vitiello, M. V. (2007). Zhdanova IV. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders: Part I, basic prin-ciples, shift work and jet lag disorders. Sleep, 30(11), 1460-1483.
Zee, P. (2007). Circadian Rhythm Sleep. Sleep Disorders and Psychiatry,22, 185.
Fuller, P. M., Gooley, J. J., & Saper, C. B. (2006). Neurobiology of the sleep-wake cycle: sleep architecture, circadian regulation, and regulatory feedback. Journal of biological rhythms, 21(6), 482-493.
Saper, C. B., Scammell, T. E., & Lu, J. (2005). Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature, 437(7063), 1257-1263.