“Waking Up” by Vgiie is licensed under CC BY 3.0
I never have considered myself a “morning person.” Most of my adolescence and adulthood involved staying up late (sometimes until the wee hours of the morning), sleeping in whenever I could, and dreading early mornings. I started out in college going to night school, and most of my shifts for work began later in the afternoon. I took pride in considering myself a “night owl.”
During the past year, I started a new job that required me to start my shift at 7am. Needless to say, the transition was challenging! Here are some tricks that have helped me wake up easier, feeling energized and refreshed:
1. Go to Bed Early
This seems like a no-brainer, but there are reasons why going to sleep early can be beneficial to your health. Your body has a natural detoxification process during a 24 hour period. Here is how your body is working to cleanse during the night and early morning:
9pm and 11pm: Lymph nodes and blood vessels.
11pm and 1am: Liver
1am to 3am: Gall bladder
3am to 5am: Lungs
5am-7am: Colon (you should empty your bowel during this time – which means you will need to be awake!)
In order for your body to get the full benefits of natural detoxification, you need to be sleeping in order to spend the maximum amount of energy for cleansing. When our bodies are allowed to care for itself the way nature intended, we feel more energized and positive in the morning.
2. Turn Off Electronics
The National Sleep Foundation reports that electronics are being shown to tamper with our natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies naturally wind down and prepare for sleep when the sun goes down, and we become energized with the sun rising. When we spend a lot of time in the evening staring at lit-up electronics, our bodies confuse it with UV sunlight, and we aren’t able to easily prepare for sleep. Eliminating electronics about an hour before bed can really help us get to sleep faster.
You may wonder – what should you do with an entire hour without electronics?? I enjoy reading. There are so many incredibly-gifted writers. Getting lost in a story also helps me get my mind off whatever anxieties from the day are still floating around. You could also take a relaxing bath, listen to soothing music, talk with a loved one, or cuddle with your dog!
3. Drown Out Sound
I am a VERY light sleeper. Every little creak and noise is likely to wake me. I have found using white noise to be very effective in helping with sleep. Some people leave a fan on, purchase a white noise machine, or download a white noise app on their phones. I use an air purifier and turn it all the way up. A loud murmuring noise can resemble the sounds from being in the womb, and can be very relaxing (ever notice how a baby can sleep through the loudest noise, and tend to like the sound of vacuums, lawn mowers, dryers, etc?). For those of you sensitive to sound – give it a try!
4. Take Some Magnesium
Magnesium deficiencies are one of the most common deficiencies in the U.S. The average American diet contains little to no magnesium. Do you have muscle tightness in your back, neck, or shoulders? Cold hands and feet? Muscle twitches? I do – and if you do too – you are probably deficient in magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies include symptoms such as migraines, muscle cramps, fatigue, asthma, anxiety, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and several others.
Magnesium plays a role in staying hydrated, energy production, and – most importantly – the deactivation of adrenaline. This wonder-mineral helps our GABA receptors (calming neurotransmitters) to function properly. Without GABA working efficiently, we tend to feel anxious, experience racing thoughts, and have difficulty sleeping. It essentially helps our brains to shut-off.
The best part about magnesium? It practically works instantly! Take some magnesium before bed, and you will feel the difference – I promise! My favorite magnesium supplement Natural Calm by Natural Vitality drink powder. It supplies magnesium citrate – one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium. You can also take a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Also try to eat more foods with magnesium such as nuts, collard greens, beans, and sea kelp.
5. Use Aromatherapy
I strongly believe that our environment plays a large role in how secure, comfortable, and grounded we feel. Colors, textures, scents, sounds, lighting, and the images we surround ourselves with can make us feel energized, calm, confident, etc. Essential oils can greatly affect our moods, including helping us to feel relaxed and at ease. I speak about the dangers of synthetic fragrance here, as well as the health benefits to essential oils. One of my favorite natural oil blends for sleep is Sleep by Essence of Vali. It truly smells incredible, and immediately puts me in a pleasant, easy mood. After using it for several nights, it’s as though I’ve been conditioned to feel sleepy when I use it!
6. Try a Guided Meditation
Meditation is known for helping with relaxation, quieting the mind, and decrease insomnia. There are several apps you can download that provide a guided meditation. My favorite is iSleep Easy. With this app, a soothing female voice guides you through breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization exercises while in bed to help you sleep. You can customize the volume of her voice, the background noise (ocean, rain, stream, lake, forest, birds, music), and how long you want the meditation to continue. There is also a brief guided meditation for the “wee hours” in case you wake up in the middle of the night.
7. Wake Up Gently
The sound of a loud, obnoxious alarm clock is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Being jolted awake by a horrible noise seems to put me in a bad mood first thing in the morning. I have not used a traditional alarm clock for several years. I was thrilled to discover Zen Awake iPhone alarm clock app a couple of years ago. It works to gradually wake you up, as if you were naturally waking up on your own. It plays a series of peaceful chimes, starting about ten minutes before you intend to wake up. The chimes progressively get louder and closer together as the time for you to get up approaches. When you go to turn off the alarm, you are greeted with an inspirational quote for the day, and with one click you can share the quote to your Facebook page. How neat is that?
8. Quit Caffeine
Ok, so the thought of quitting your morning coffee may seem nearly impossible for you. It was hard for me too – but hear me out. If you are relying on caffeine to give you energy in the morning, you are robbing your body’s natural ability to produce its own energy.
How do you know if you are relying on caffeine too much? Ask yourself: are you drinking caffeine daily (coffee, energy drinks, soda, etc)? Are you nearly late for work in an attempt to get that morning cup of coffee while on the road? Are you overspending in order to get your caffeine fix? Do others not want to be around you in the morning until you’ve had your coffee? Are you feeling tired, cranky, or experience headaches if your caffeine schedule is altered? If the answer to any of these questions are yes, then you may need to consider decreasing your caffeine intake or quitting altogether.
Caffeine, like any addictive substance, alters the brain. When we alter our brain, we are putting our bodies in a state of imbalance. Our bodies will eventually become reliant on coffee to feel awake and energized rather than naturally producing the energy we need to function. Caffeine also dehydrates us, eventually causing us to feel more tired. So swap out that cup of coffee for a glass of water!
Since I have quit caffeine, I have felt much more energized yet calm and focused, without the anxiety-jitters I typically experienced with coffee. Although I miss the taste of coffee, I love my sense of balance even more!
Since I have made these changes, my mornings are much more pleasant. I actually enjoy going to bed earlier and waking up sooner. I simply feel better. Sometimes I miss being a night-owl. However, I still get that quiet, peaceful feeling (as if I’m the only one awake when the world is sleeping) being up early in the morning. I often get to see the sunrise while driving to work. I enjoy longer days at the beach or have more energy for hiking. My days feel longer (in a good way), and I have more time to enjoy the sunshine!
Have you tried any of these strategies? What makes you feel energized in the morning? Please share!