Ah, bedtime. That glorious time of day when you drift into dreamland and forget your troubles. At least that’s how it’s supposed to happen.
For many people, the day-to-day rigor can keep your mind churning and your body tossing and turning until the alarm starts blaring in your ear the next morning. And why does that thing go off so soon after you fall asleep?
If a lack of restful sleep and worries about the day ahead lead you to hit the snooze button one time too many, you’re not alone. Here’s how you can kick the grumps to the curb and make the most of your morning routine.
1. Just say no to snoozing
Did you know there’s a word for hitting the snooze button over and over? Me neither. But it’s called drockling, and it’ll wreak havoc on your morning routine.
Drockling confuses your body’s internal clock so it’s hard to wake up refreshed. When you finally do roll out of bed, you’re more likely to be groggy and cranky. And is that really how you want to spend your morning?
2. Leave your phone alone
As tempting as it may be, reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up can derail your whole day. Checking social media and email can both be massive time sucks, leaving you with less time for your morning routine and rushing to catch the bus.
If you do find yourself with extra time in the a.m., opt for something that can help keep you grounded, like light exercise, journaling, or meditation.
3. Shine some light on the matter
Ever struggle to get out of bed on a dark, rainy day? It’s because your body needs natural light to reset its internal clock. That means if you don’t turn on a light, you’re more likely to burrow further down into your covers and call it a day.
You’ll start your day faster if you turn on the lights or open the shades as soon as you wake up.
4. Make the bed
Let’s be real. It only takes a couple minutes to at least straighten up the covers, and hospital corners are optional.
Making the bed helps get you moving in the morning and gives you a sense of accomplishment. And think of how much calmer you’ll feel at bedtime when you climb into a nicely-made bed instead of a mass of tangled sheets and blankets.
5. Pump up the tunes
If you turn on your favorite tunes, finding your morning groove is inevitable. So unless you’ve got sleeping kids you don’t want to wake, go ahead and pump up the volume. A bonus? Music makes you want to dance, so you’ll burn some calories, too.
6. Diffuse a zesty scent
Consider buying an aromatherapy diffuser for your bedroom. Inhaling a stimulating essential oil can awaken your senses and get you energized.
Some invigorating scents to choose from include:
- pink grapefruit
7. Pull your hair — no, really
If you simply can’t roll out of bed despite your best efforts, tug your hair. Gently pulling your hair not only gives you an eye-opening twinge; it also helps stimulate blood flow to your scalp.
Of course, if you take this advice to heart, don’t go overboard. Pulling your hair may get you going, but if you do it too hard, it’s also likely to tick you off — at yourself.
Stretching helps get blood flowing to your muscles, especially if your body is stiff because your partner is a bed-hog and you literally slept in the same position all night on one tiny area of the bed. Yeah, they know who they are.
Stretching may also help get you through your day by:
- increasing flexibility
- increasing range of motion
- increasing endurance
- decreasing risk of injury
Unsure about where to start? One of these stretches may be just what you need.
9. Get out of your jammies
If you stay in your jammies all day, you’ll miss out on how good it feels to don them at the end of a difficult day. We know everyone needs a pajama day now and then, but save it for a snow day when you’re stuck inside with a mug of cocoa and a roaring fire.
10. Douse your face with cold water
Don’t go as far as the Ice Bucket Challenge, but a few splashes of icy water will snap you out of dreamland fast. An added benefit may be tighter pores, but that theory’s unproven.
11. Drink water before caffeine
Drinking a glass of water before your cup of coffee or tea can help rehydrate your body and rev your metabolism. If you don’t drink water until later, you’re more likely to become dehydrated.
Dehydration may cause confusion, infrequent urination, fatigue, and dizziness — symptoms you definitely don’t want to experience throughout your day.
12. Eat protein for breakfast
Proteins are the building blocks of every cell you have. It just makes more sense to power your body with a high-protein breakfast, such as a hard-boiled egg or a protein shake, instead of a sugary doughnut or muffin that will mess with your blood sugar levels and sap your energy. Need some inspiration? Check out these high-protein breakfast recipes.
13. Make your morning work for you
Who’s in control when you wake up — you, or your morning routine? Many days, it may seem like the latter, but you can change that. Make mornings work for you by eating right, avoiding your electronics unless there’s an emergency, and prepping clothes and meals ahead of time.
If you’re one of many in your home, don’t be a morning martyr. Enlist the entire family to work as a team to make the morning rush less stressful.
14. Be consistent with your routines
If your bedtime, morning, and weekend routines are all over the map, you’re blowing your chances of sleeping well and waking up refreshed.
To support your body’s natural sleep cycle, develop routines and stick with them. This means going to bed at the same time each night and waking up the same time each morning.
There are countless things you can do the night before to step up your morning game. The key is to be consistent so the steps you take become habit.
15. Pass on that afternoon coffee run
Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for several hours. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, research has shown drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime reduces total sleep time by one hour.
Skipping that afternoon cup may mean the difference between getting a full eight hours of sleep and wishing for a nap around 3 p.m.
16. Avoid alcohol
A glass of wine may help you fall asleep when your nerves are frayed, but you don’t want to rely on it every night. Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and prevent you from reaching REM, or deep sleep.
And have you ever had a hangover? Enough said.
17. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow
Taking 10 minutes or so to choose your clothes for the next day, iron them, and lay them out can save you loads of morning stress. If you have kids, teach them to do the same. It’s an easy hack guaranteed to make your daily routine easier.
18. Prep your morning mojo
Coffee. That dark, rich fuel… er, beverage that makes you human again. Why struggle half-awake through half-open eyes to find your coffee filters and coffee when you can prep your mojo the night before?
Better yet, buy a programmable coffee maker that’ll have your morning cup of aromatic bliss ready for you when you wake.
19. Get your breakfast ready
Millions of adults and children skip breakfast. This can be harmful, as eating breakfast helps:
- control blood sugar
- improve heart health
- boost brain power
- boost immunity
- improve skin
To make sure you and your family enjoy a healthy breakfast (no, last night’s brownies don’t count), do some prep work. If you have time for a sit-down meal, plan the menu and set the table the night before. If not, make a batch of grab-and-go egg muffins or homemade protein bars on Sunday to have on hand the entire week.
20. Use a sleep app
There really is an app for everything! Sleep apps track your sleeping habits to help you determine your optimal bedtime and what time you should wake up. There are also relaxation apps and white noise apps that can help you fall asleep. Wondering which app is right for you? Here are some options to get you started.
21. Keep your room cool
It’s difficult to snooze when you’re uncomfortably hot and sweating buckets. Unless you’re used to sleeping in hot temps, keep your bedroom cool at night. You’ll sleep better and have fewer grungy sheets to wash.
22. Keep the screens out of your bed
Although turning to your phone first thing in the morning can be disastrous, using it before bed may be worse. That’s because electronics expose you to blue light.
Blue light is thought to stimulate your brain and block it from producing melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it’s time for 40 winks. Try cutting your screen time off an hour or two before you plan to sleep.
23. Choose an alarm that’ll make you want to wake up
It may be nice to wake up to the sound of a gentle rainfall or crashing waves, but does it really make you want to get out of bed? Doubtful.
Choose an alarm that’s not shrill enough to make you chuck it across the room, but annoying enough to make you want to get as far away from it as possible.
24. Make sure your alarm is set — and far away from you
It should go without saying, but to wake up on time, make sure your alarm is set each night. Place it on a dresser on the opposite side of the room or even in an adjoining bathroom — wherever you can still hear it! You’re less likely to hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep if you have to get out of bed and walk across the room to turn it off.
25. Choose an alarm with a brain teaser
Take it one step further and make your alarm require you to perform a mental task for it to shut off. For example, the iPhone has an alarm shut-off function that requires you to solve a simple math problem. If math gives you an instant headache, use an app that requires you to snap a picture of something somewhere in your home before shutting off.
26. Have an evening routine
Humans are creatures of habit. Establishing an evening ritual helps signal your body it’s time for sleep. Consider drinking a cup of herbal tea — chamomile is a great choice — reading a book, or taking a relaxing bath before bedtime. Whatever your routine, don’t divert from it.
27. Play white noise
If you can’t stand the sound of silence, or you wake up at every little sound, white noise may be a great bedtime option for you. It helps keep the sound in the room consistent, and blocks out sudden noises that may wake you up.
You can purchase a white noise machine, keep a playlist running, or just keep a fan on throughout the night.
28. Don’t linger in bed if you can’t sleep
If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed counting sheep. Despite the hype, it seldom works.
Get out of bed and do a busy task such as folding laundry or sorting mail. It’s OK to read a book or magazine, but not on your tablet. Leave your electronics off. When you start to feel sleepy, go back to bed.
You can take all the above steps and still not sleep a wink if your bed is a mess of tangled covers and grimy bedding. Your bed is your oasis. Here’s how to create a comforting space that promotes relaxation and sleep.
29. Get a better pillow
An uncomfortable pillow is a prescription for a lousy night’s sleep. Find a pillow that keeps your head in a neutral position. Consider investing in a so-called smart pillow, which conforms to your neck and head. You should also wash your pillowcases regularly to keep things smelling fresh.
30. Choose the right mattress
Your college days of crashing on whatever surface is closest are over. It’s time to step up your game and invest in a mattress that best suits your sleep needs.
According to the Better Sleep Foundation, you should evaluate your mattress every seven years. If it’s not literally supporting you, replace it. There are many mattress options out there, from innerspring to memory foam. If you think it’s time to upgrade, visit a mattress store and test drive several types to find the best fit for you.
31. Assess your blanket situation
It seems like a cruel twist of fate that in many relationships one person loves piling on the blankets while the other is content to sleep with just a sheet. Blanket tension must be one of the main reasons couples end up sleeping in separate rooms. Too few or too many blankets can leave you either shivering or sweltering.
If you’re not sleeping well, review your blanket situation, and adjust accordingly. If you can’t get your significant other to compromise, it may be time to purchase a sofa bed…
32. Adjust the lighting
The right lightbulb is important if you’re struggling to sleep. Both fluorescent and LED bulbs give off melatonin-obstructing blue light. The National Sleep Foundation recommends using red, pink, or incandescent bulbs in your bedroom lamps to promote restful sleep.
33. Keep the walls a neutral color
For the record, neutral isn’t red, hot pink, or puce. Staring at neon walls is a surefire way to stay awake. If you’re dealing with a fiery shade left over from an earlier renovation, consider a room redo.
Switching to a soothing, neutral color such as light blue, grey, white, or beige may make all the difference and transform your sleep.
34. Ban Fido from your bed
Please don’t send hate mail! I’m an animal lover, and understand how comforting it is to snuggle in bed with a beloved pet.
But I’m also a realist, and unless your pet understands the concept of personal space, you’re more likely to get a better night’s sleep if they sleep in their own bed on the floor. This way you can keep them close without having to deal with constant shuffling throughout the night.