Do you feel like you have to drag yourself out of bed every morning? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. Not only have researchers linked it to motor vehicle crashes and industrial disasters, it also contributes to occupational errors, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to wake up better every day—and some may even help you get more shut-eye in the long run.
- Let the sunshine in. According to the National Sleep Foundation, your body’s internal clock is sensitive to light and darkness. If you get a healthy dose of sunshine first thing in the morning, it will help you wake up. Try throwing open your curtains and blinds as soon as your alarm goes off. If you have to get up before the sun rises, turn on a bright light.
- Give up the snooze button. It doesn’t matter how many hours of sleep you had that night, when the alarm goes off in the morning, you’re going to feel tired and groggy. The feeling is actually part of a normal process that helps you sleep through the night. Repeatedly pressing the snooze will only make it worse (and make you late for work). Instead, get out of bed and get moving.
- Stop relying on coffee. You’ve seen the mugs that read, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” If you agree with them, it might be time to give up that morning Joe. It’s actually doing less to help you than you believe. According to scientists, caffeine works as a stimulant, at least in part, by impeding the effects of brain chemicals that drive you to sleep during the day. Your body has fewer of those chemicals when you first get up, so you’re better off having coffee later in the day when it can actually do some good.
- Start relaxing before bed. Never hit the sack until you’ve taken the time to slow down and relax. Trying to sleep directly after working, watching TV, arguing with your spouse or cleaning the house is almost always difficult. You mind needs time to wind down free from distractions. Try a few minutes of meditation, a hot shower, or some light stretches.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. This one is easier said than done, but it can do wonders for both the quantity and quality of sleep you get each night. Experts recommend logging seven to nine hours of pillow time so if you’re getting less, you need to give this a try. Avoiding naps, evening caffeine and late dinners can help you in your efforts to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Ask for help. If you’re getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night but still wake up tired and drag yourself through the day, your sleep quality may be poor. Two common offenders are chronic pain and sleep apnea. While you’re probably already aware if you have the former, you’ll need to see a sleep specialist to diagnose the latter. Visit the National Sleep Foundation’s website for assistance.