The perfect sleep routine starts first thing in the morning. A solid, consistent morning routine creates the foundation for a balanced and productive day. Starting your day in a positive, mindful, healthy manner helps you deal with whatever the day has in store. And brings you to the evening with less stress locked into your body and mind. In our modern, busy lifestyle, our time first thing is often the only part of the day we can fully control.
Start by setting up your day well and give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep.
My top ten morning tips for a great night’s sleep –
1. Always wake up at the same time every day. On average adults need about 7 ½ hours a night. Your body expects you to go to bed and wake up at the same time 7 days a week, as we would have done prehistorically. Keeping a consistent sleep routine is the best way to ensure you can get to sleep easily at night and improves the quantity and quality of your sleep. Try to avoid using an alarm if possible so your body is naturally determining when you have had enough sleep and you have the best chance of waking refreshed. Never use the snooze button. It confuses the brain and can leave you feeling groggy. It also decreases the quality of sleep at this time.
2. Once you’re awake let sunlight into your bedroom straight away. This sends a signal to your brain and body it’s time to wake up, increasing your production of serotonin (the wake up and feel good hormone). Getting daylight first thing strengthens our circadian rhythm, making it easier to get to sleep at night. Sunlight also boosts cortisol production. Cortisol levels rise in the first half hour after you wake and signal the body to become more alert. Sunlight has another benefit of producing vitamin D. There’s a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and daytime sleepiness, so try and get the sun on your skin during the day. According to the NHS, we can generate enough Vitamin D from sun exposure from March to September.
3. Drink water, not tea or coffee first thing. We all lose water over night through sweat and therefore wake up de-hydrated. Water is by far the best drink to have first thing as it instantly hydrates you. You can then maintain this hydration through the day which aids good sleep. Tea and coffee however, are diuretics which encourage you to lose water through urination. It’s always useful to have a glass of water by your bedside in case you wake up in the night thirsty and for drinking first thing in the morning.
4. Leave all tech outside the bedroom. In an ideal world we would leave all technology outside the bedroom to avoid the temptation to use it too late, both in terms of keeping our brain active and waking us up with the ‘blue light’ it emits. Always use a dimmer / filter such as flux to avoid this. If you want to catch up on social media and texts before sleep, do it in your living room, not your bedroom. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ or airplane mode when charging over-night. Tell your friends and family that you are doing this and that you’ll turn your phone on after breakfast. Rather than use your mobile as your alarm clock, get yourself a dawn simulator alarm instead. This is a gentle alarm, awakening you cleverly with light. Read a book or keep a journal and write in it before bed instead of using tech.
5. Make your bed. Being organised helps to de-clutter your mind and helps reduce stress and anxiety. Organisation in the bedroom starts at night by putting out your clothes for the next day and ends in the morning by leaving for work on time. It’s lovely to get into a beautifully made bed when you’re tired too.
6. Practice meditation / mindfulness. Meditation creates a calm space to start your day and helps centre you. Include a list of 5 things you’re grateful for to get you in a positive place. Add 5 affirmations to boost your self-esteem. Try to vary the content of your gratitude list and affirmations to keep them fresh and interesting.
7. Finish your meditation by visualising the perfect day. Visualise a positive day at work where you accomplish all your goals and tasks. Visualise a day in which you remain calm, stress free and in control. One where you easily cope with any unexpected changes and one where you’re thriving and satisfied with all you achieve. Always include visualising something in your day that you enjoy, whether at work or after work. Visualise creating space in the day for breaks to recompose yourself to centre; to get in touch with how you’re feeling and to re-organise your time and deadlines. Visualise (and make sure you take!) a proper lunch break.
8. Eat a healthy breakfast. Historically we would have tended to fast in the dark and eat in the daylight, with ‘breakfast’ literally the time we broke our nightly fast. In fact, we have a body food clock that is linked to our sleep clock in our brains. Ideally we should have breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. Breakfast is potentially the most important meal of the day in terms of its timing. It provides us with energy for the day ahead, and keeps our first meal in sync with our sleep cycle, acting as an anchor. High fibre intake has been found to be associated with deeper restorative sleep. Porridge oats are a great meal for breakfast. Protein (scrambled eggs and avocado) are also a good way to start the day as it takes longer to digest and keeps us feeling fuller for the morning.
9. Exercise / stretch. Exercising outdoors in the morning is the perfect start to the day. It improves your sleep quality and quantity, boosts your daily intake of sunlight and keeps you fit at the same time. If you don’t want to vigorously exercise first thing, try walking for at least 15 minutes. Apart from a host of wonderful health benefits, including increasing endorphins and serotonin (the feel good hormone), morning exercise usually makes it easier to fall asleep and improves your quality and quantity of sleep. Vigorous exercise is regarded as best for sleep, and as little as 20- 30 minutes of activity helps. Stretching, yoga or tai chi are other great options in your morning exercise routine.
10. First coffee at 10 – 11.00am rather than first thing. A lot of us use caffeine when we wake up to give us an instant boost. Coffee or tea (which typically has 1/3rd of the caffeine of coffee) raise our cortisol and adrenaline levels. Drinking caffeine first thing gives you a ‘pick me up’ on top of your natural cortisol production which is already working to wake you up. If you want to use caffeine to get you going in the morning, leave it for an hour after you wake up or mid-morning.
Try and implement just one of these tips and leave a comment below, letting us know how you get on.
Here’s to your long term health! xx
Image by Elizabeth Lies on Unsplash