There’s nothing better than crawling into bed at a reasonable hour, snuggling into your familiar sheets, closing your eyes, and then drifting easily and soundly into a 7 to 8-hour sleep.
To achieve this, many of us adhere to a strict bedtime routine. For others, it comes easily and naturally. But what many of us don’t know is that a good night’s rest actually starts the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Meaning, what we do within minutes of waking up and the choices we make throughout the day, have a direct impact on how we sleep at night.
Our natural rhythms
As humans, we are considered to be diurnal creatures, meaning our circadian rhythm, or our sleep-wake cycle revolves around the patterns of the sun. Therefore, when it comes to regulating this biological process, light plays a crucial role in signalling to our body when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to be asleep.
How to wake up the right way
Within the first few moments of waking up, it’s important to expose your brain to natural light as it begins to increase your body temperature, energy levels and alertness. Natural sunlight, as opposed to light from a lamp or smartphone, is crucial because sunlight is considered a full-spectrum light. This light signals to your brain that it’s time to suppress melatonin production and boosts your vitamin D production, keeping your immune system healthy and happy.
Choosing natural sunlight over the light of your smartphone or other technology is also important because it helps to maintain healthy levels of cortisol. Cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is produced to help your body respond to stress and danger and helps to determine when your body goes into fight or flight mode. It is naturally occurring in the body throughout the day but should be at it’s lowest when you’re asleep.
Waking up and reaching straight for your phone, tablet or computer to see an influx of emails, alerts, and text messages is the perfect way to ramp up cortisol. Your stress levels may then continue to build throughout the day, making it hard to then relax and settle down closer to bedtime. And if you use your phone as an alarm clock, the temptation to take a sneak peek at your favourite social media app first thing in the morning is a difficult habit to break.
Instead, try using an old fashioned alarm clock and set your phone on the opposite side of the room. Once your alarm goes off, use the first five minutes after waking to take a few deep breaths, set a positive intention for your day and greet the sun at your bedroom window.
Another important morning practice for promoting good sleep is waking up at the same time each day. And, yes that means weekends as well! Our circadian rhythm is not only influenced by the patterns of the sun, but also by our sleep schedules. When there is prolonged misalignment with our circadian rhythm, it can increase the risk of various diseases. However, if we wake up at the same time every day, we can reinforce the circadian rhythm and therefore be prompted to go to sleep more easily at the same time every night.
So next time your alarm goes off, whether from your smartphone or old fashioned alarm clock, take a moment to pause and start your day with a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Content source // ahbeard.com