How to Wake Up Refreshed (Even if You are a Natural Night Owl)

We have all been there. Laying in bed. Our pillow is calling us, calling to us that it is just the right temperature for once, and it wants to show its love for us with the perfect amount of softness. And sure, the alarm is blaring, but it can be snoozed for just twenty more minutes.

If you haven’t ever felt like this, lucky you. Most people, however, tend to feel pretty crappy in the morning. Even with a good night’s sleep (and that itself can be hard to come by), sometimes you cannot avoid feeling downright sleepy. Here are some tips to help you feel refreshed no matter when you want to wake up.

Glass of Water

Drink Water: Dehydration makes you sleepy, and chances are when you wake up your body is a dehydrated after 7+ hours without water. So, before you reach for the coffee, milk, or juice, drink an 8oz glass of water to wet your whistle. You will be surprised at the difference this makes.

Oil it Up: Some alarm clocks now have sophisticated aromatherapy mechanisms, but really all you need is a bright citrus, jasmine, or peppermint smells, which can be gotten through essential oils. Place a bottle of essential oil by your bed. The next morning, when you wake up put some on your hands, temples, or right underneath your nose. If you think the smell might disturb your neighbors, consider making tea with these flavors and scents.

alarm clock

Relocate Your Alarm Clock: The least effective spot for your alarm clock is next to your bed. Instead, move your alarm clock across the room from where you sleep so that to turn it off you have to get up. Even better, get a rolling alarm clock so you have to chase it around. The Tocky alarm clock will jump and roll around the room, and can be personalized with your own music. It’s a great alarm clock for ditching your snooze button addiction.

Set Multiple Alarm Clocks: Sometimes one is not enough. If one alarm just isn’t enough, set two. If that isn’t enough bring out the big guns: set them apart both in time and location. 

Create and Follow a Schedule: Create a daily awakening ritual. Your alarm clock can only do so much of the work. Since your body’s clock follows a circadian rhythm, if your rhythm is off your sleep cycle will follow it. Make yourself go to sleep and wake-up on schedule and stick to it. Once you wake up, follow a set agenda of things you do to get ready. For the first week or so you may find yourself in bed and over energized, and drowsy when you wake up, but the dividends pay off. Once you orient your body to a natural activity schedule, and you may find yourself relying less and less on caffeine, alarm clocks, and other forms of external stimulation.

Place a huge bird feeder outside your window: Neighborhood birds and squirrels will flock there in the morning, like a natural alarm clock. You could also get a rooster, but your entire block will hate you.

Take a Shower: A quick shower as soon as you get out of bed will cause your body to encounter variable temperature conditions, which will increase circulation throughout your body and wake it up. Alternatively, splash cold water on your face, as that does essentially the same thing.

Exercise for Better Sleep

Exercise: Get your blood moving in the morning through exercise.You do not need a full gym regime (though that is probably the most effective). Even doing a few jumping jacks right after your turn off your alarm will wake your body up and get those muscles out of their stupor.

Stimulate your Brain: If physical exercise isn’t your thing, exercise your brain. Play Sudoku, try the crossword, or read a newspaper to get your brain awake. While morning talk shows might entertain you, they won’t wake you up as well as more active engagements.

Direct Sunlight: Natural light is nature’s most effective wake up call. Sunlight causes the body to release wake-up hormones that are very effective for telling your body to wake up. Brighten your bedroom and allow in natural light in each morning. Or, soak in the Vitamin D outside a coffee or a tea cafe, and you should be jumping with liveliness by the time you get the office.

Breakfast for Better Sleep

Have Breakfast: They do not call it the most important meal of the day for nothing. Mastication and digestion force the body to wake-up, making it harder to fall back asleep. Moreover, try to wake up your senses by eating stimulating foods like citrus fruits and caffeinated tea or coffee.

Ditch the extra layers: The bed is a warm, comfortable, and soothing place. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes we need that chill factor to shake off that comfy feeling. It you can, try leaving some layers off (within reason) until you are fully awake.

Finally… Make Mornings A Time to Look Forward To: The above suggestions will make it easier for you to wake up in the morning, but the root cause of most morning drowsiness is dread of waking up. For most of us, getting up means that time before going to work, school, or other daily chores. If your morning is something you do not look forward too, make it worth looking forward to. Make it the time you get to check your emails, play the crossword, read your favorite book, eat a delicious breakfast with your loved ones, listen to music, or exercise. Once you start looking forward to what you get to do after your wake up, not only will you wake up easier, but happier too. This might be the hardest step, but it is worth your while.

Each of these tips will help you wake yourself up, and the more you do the more refreshed you will feel upon awakening. Try them and see!

Understanding Common Types of Sleep Disorders

“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.”
-Wilson Mizener

“Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore, and you sleep alone!”
-Anthony Burgess

Nothing feels quite like waking up refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead of you. However, while we all know how important sleep is, many of us still struggle to fall asleep at night. Moreover, I am willing to wager that many of us also always seem to wake up fatigued, no matter how long we have slept. If you have trouble sleeping it is possible that you may have one of several common sleeping disorders. The following guide is here to help you identify why you are struggling to get the satisfactory sleep you need (and deserve).

Monkey Brain Syndrome

Monkey Brain Syndrome
A common disorder that owes its namesake to restless Buddhist monks. The Monkey Brain is that part of your consciousness that just won’t stay still while you are trying to fall asleep. Monkey Brain acts much like a monkey, jumping around from topic to topic while you are trying to fall asleep with an unsettled/restless energy that flashes unsettled, whimsical, fanciful, confused, indecisive and uncontrollable thoughts. Causes include:

  • Excessive stimulation (coffee, tea, sugar)
  • Anxiety
  • Not having proper pre-sleep preparation or relaxation routine

What causes snoringSnoring 
Snoring may not always seem serious, but it can be a big strain on both a good nights sleep and your (or your potential) relationships. Snoring is also hard to pin down because it can have many causes.

First though, what is snoring? Snoring is the vibration of the tissues of the airways of the nose and throat, caused by turbulent airflows flowing through their narrowed passages. Snoring is actually fairly common, with some studies estimating that between 30-40% of all men and women snore on a regular basis. Common causes of snoring include:

  • Incorrect sleeping position (Incorrect pillow firmness/softness; laying on ones back as opposed to ones side)
  • Alcohol, smoking, and certain medications that can cause excessive relaxation of through muscles
  • A variety of underlying health issues such as insomnia, sleep apnea, obesity, and structural issues with the airway or throat

If your snoring seems to be serious, or you suspect it may be linked to an underlying factor, it is important to check out these concerns as snoring tends to interrupt the sleep cycle of both you and those around you. However, there are also several “over-the-counter” and home remedies for snoring that are worth looking into.

Insomnia Owl

Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that is characterized by a general difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It can range in its effects and severity, though people with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A difficulty falling asleep.
  • Waking up frequently during the night, and struggling to go back to sleep.
  • Waking up early in the morning for no apparent reason.
  • Feeling fatigued upon waking.
  • Irritability.
  • Noticeable drop in concentration or memory.

Insomnia can range from being transient or acute (short-term) to chronic condition (long-term).

If you suspect you may have Chronic Insomnia, then that is best handled by a health professional as chronic insomnia can be either a symptom of, or an eventual contributor to, severe health problems such as depression, chronic stress, and serious physical health problems. Acute Insomnia is generally related to stress factors, both emotional and physical. Generally short-term insomnia can be handled through simple lifestyle adjustments and successfully recognizing what stress factors are causing poor sleep quality. Such stress factors might include:

  • Significant life stress (a change in environment brought on by moving, the death of a loved one, moving, divorce)
  • Physical and emotional factors
  • Environmental discomfort brought on by extreme heat, cold, light or noise.
  • Certain medications (always check warning labels)
  • Changes in ones normal sleep schedule (jet lag or job shift changes)

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea
A potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or periodic swallow breathing during sleep. Generally recognized by excessive snoring, daytime drowsiness, generally restless sleep, and in more serious cases a tendency to stop breathing during sleep. Generally, sleep apnea is a chronic condition and if you suspect to have it you should consult a health professional. There are several kinds of sleep apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea– the most common form of sleep apnea, this occurs when there is an obstruction of your air intake tube due to a relaxation of the through muscles that normally do not obstruct the windpipe. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have several causes that include:

  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Muscles in the back of your throat relaxing to cause obstruction of air intake, generally due to structural features of the throat or obesity

Central Sleep Apnea– a more serious (and rare) condition that occurs when the brain fails to transmit signals that tell your breathing muscles to intake air. Central sleep apnea will generally result in the sleeper waking up with a shortness of breath and high heart rate, unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is often not remembered by the sleeper.

Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep eludes many of us in this era of almost constant stimulation. Hopefully this guide has put you on the path to identifying what is keeping you from getting some quality zzz’s. However, if your sleep cycle seems beyond lifestyle changes, you might need to consult outside help and services. It takes patience and a bit of work, but you can solve your sleep problems so long as you’re willing to take the time.