Waking up unrefreshed after sleep in the morning is a common problem. In a study of three FTSE 100 companies 64 per cent of employees said that they woke up feeling tired and unrefreshed, of which 24 per cent reported that it negatively impacted on their ability to perform their job.1
How refreshed and energised you feel in the morning depends not only on the quantity and quality of your sleep, but also on how you wake up and start your day. In the same way that winding down in the evening signals to the brain that the day is ending and sleep is on its way, winding up in the morning helps to wake the brain up.
Light is the most important factor in triggering wakefulness. The moment you open the curtains or turn on the lights, light sensitive cells in your eyes detect the light and send information to your internal body. This triggers the release of the waking hormone Cortisol and inhibits the production of Melatonin, the sleeping hormone, which together help to wake up the brain ready for the day ahead.
If you really struggle to wake up in the morning, then using a sunrise lamp or regularly using a light box, which mimics the suns rays, can also be very helpful. This is especially true during the winter months when it stays darker for longer or if you are a so called owl and have a genetic tendency to go to bed and get up late.
Having an invigorating shower, eating a healthy breakfast, going for a walk or heading to the gym are also helpful ways of telling the brain that the day has started. If you can spend at least 10 minutes in natural light every morning it helps to keep your internal body clock on time, thus promoting better sleep quality for the night ahead.
When you wake up also affects how refreshed you feel. Ideally you want to wake at the end of a sleep cycle just as you exist rapid eye movement REM sleep as this is when your brain is most alert. Waking up naturally without an alarm will ensure that this happens. In contrast, if your alarm wakes you up out of deep sleep you can spend the first part of the morning trapped in a state of brain fog.
Modern sleep tracking technology has sought ways to get round such a problem by monitoring your sleep cycles and waking you up at the ideal moment. The S+ by Resmed uses bio motion sensors to detect changes in your breathing rate and predict your state of sleep, triggering your alarm the moment you end your sleep cycle.
If your current morning wake up involves repeatedly hitting the snooze button, then you’re likely to be tiring yourself out before you’ve even started the day. Constantly being woken by the alarm causes your sleep to be light and broken and so you’re much better off setting it till later and achieving more consolidated sleep instead.
Source: Dr Guy Meadows is the clinical director of Sleep To Perform
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