I think most people would agree that waking up early can be a struggle. Whether it's work, exercise, a crying baby or an important appointment; there is nothing as infuriating as a piercing alarm clock to shock the system.
That sudden jolting sound that unnaturally wakes us from a deep slumber is playing havoc with our biological clocks. Add all our preexisting worries to the sudden ringing of an alarm clock, and our overall stress levels are heightened with a surge in adrenaline- ultimately triggering the body's protective 'fight or flight' response. Over time, this increases and persists, and can lead to chronic stress and other serious health conditions.
My alarm clock is solely used for decorative purposes.
According to Till Roenneburg, a professor at the University of Munichís Institute of Medical Psychology, our bodies are almost constantly in jet lag mode. Although jet lag is associated with airplane travel, it can also be a symptom of the clash between the amount of sleep our bodies need and what our lives demand.
This confusion is actually messing with our circadian rhythms, and with the influx of technology and social media we are going to bed later, and waking up earlier.
Here are a few ways you can train your body to go to bed earlier so you can wake up naturally, feeling more rejuvenated.
1. Get rid of the TV in the bedroom.
Television emits artificial light, and can also stimulate your brain when you should be getting ready to go to sleep. The continuous flashes and streams of light from the TV affect the circadian rhythm. Some say that they have trained their bodies to fall asleep with the TV on, which is a bad habit and can initiate feelings of sluggishness, tiredness and lethargy upon waking. Keep the TV out of the bedroom; it's a place of rest.
Photo by Matthew Bowden www.digitallyrefreshing.com (http://www.sxc.hu/photo/145972) via.Wikimedia Commons
2. Turn off any lights, or lamps.
When you think about the stone age, humans relied on the sun and the moon to indicate time of day, which regulated our bodily clock. However nowadays we have so many gadgets that emit lighting; our smart phones now have night light and flash light apps that are readily available to download.
An example of a bedroom not fit for rest. Photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Neurologist George Brainard states, "Light works as if it's a drug, except it's not a drug at all."
Ultimately, artificial light suppresses melatonin, the hormone derived from serotonin that's produced by the pineal gland. It plays a role in the function of regulating the circadian rhythm and helps control your sleep and wake cycles.
3. Watch your diet.
Caffeine, sugar, and artificial and processed foods can keep you up at night, making you feel more tired and lethargic upon waking.
Milk can definitely impact digestion, which is a terrible feeling when you're ready for bed. Pasta is also a bad choice, as it increases insulin, which can create a spike in blood sugar levels. The symptoms of blood sugar elevation include headaches, blurred vision, increased thirst, frequent urination, and intestinal problems.
Not such a great meal idea before bedtime.
4. Sleep with your curtains or blinds slightly opened or raised.
The sun after all is responsible for the regulation of our waking cycle, so you may as well take advantage of it. By preparing from the night before and opening your blinds a little, the natural rays of light will send signals and your body will slowly adjust to the light of the morning.
Natural light is best. Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.
5. Regular exercise.
By incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily schedule, you can significantly increase the quality of your sleep. Exercising in the morning, during the day or in the early evening is best.
It is achievable to train your body and mind to wake up naturally. It may take some getting used to, however, through patience and perseverance, you can ultimately ditch the alarm clock and start the morning the way nature intended.