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The Secrets to Waking Up Refreshed

January 04, 2018

Do you wake up feeling refreshed?

If you hit the snooze button a few times before dragging yourself out of bed, chances are you’re not getting a good night’s sleep.

Most of us force ourselves awake every day. What are the secrets to waking up refreshed?

About Sleep/Wake Homeostasis and Your Circadian Clock

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is regulated by your body’s sleep/wake homeostasis and internal circadian clock.

When you’ve been awake a long time, your sleep/wake homeostasis signals that sleep is needed.

This same process helps you stay asleep to make up for the hours you were awake.

In contrast, your circadian clock controls periods of alertness and sleepiness through the day.

Most people have the strongest sleep drive between 2-4:00 am and between 1-3:00 pm. This varies somewhat between “morning” and “evening” people.

Your circadian clock is controlled by cells in the brain’s hypothalamus, which respond to light or dark.

In the morning, exposure to light sends a signal to the brain to release cortisol and raise body temperature.

As it gets darker, melatonin levels begin to rise, naturally relaxing the body and encouraging sleep.

Many things throw off your sleep/wake homeostasis and circadian clock: working odd hours, jet lag, stress, mood disorders, pregnancy, blindness, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and medications.

Any one of these things can make it difficult to get into a proper sleep cycle and wake up feeling refreshed.

Secrets to Waking Up Refreshed

Developing good sleep rituals go a long way towards enhancing your sleep and helping you to wake up refreshed no matter your life circumstances.

First, set aside 7-9 hours for sleep every night.

If you starve your body of sleep, you won’t wake up feeling refreshed. Research shows adults need anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Getting less sleep than this can make you feel drowsy, affect your job performance, and increase risk for accidents.

Make time for “wind down” rituals.

If you like to read, meditate, or take a bath before bed, do it before your scheduled sleep time.

For example, if you need to go to bed at 9:00 pm, start your wind down rituals at 8:00 pm.

Many people make the mistake of starting their rituals too late in the evening, and end up not getting enough sleep.

Starting your sleep rituals early signals your body to relax and supports natural melatonin production. You will sleep better and wake up more refreshed.

Exercise at the right time.

Exercise is a powerful stress reducer, mood elevator, and can be a key to waking up refreshed. However, you need to exercise at the right time.

Most sleep experts suggest exercising in the morning or early in the day.

An evening workout can make it difficult to fall asleep because exercise increases adrenaline levels, heart rate, and body temperature.

Turn off the lights, especially your LED screens.

Research finds exposure to artificial light disrupts your circadian clock and sleep/wake homeostasis.

Staring at the blue lights from LED screens sets off a reaction, which tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime.

Put your phones and computers on sleep mode well before bedtime. For some people, this is the only change they need to make to wake up feeling refreshed.

Have sex before bed.

Having sex encourages the body to release more oxytocin and serotonin, both of which help you to relax and sleep better.

For women, sex increases estrogen levels known to enhance deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

For men, sex increases the release of prolactin, which makes you feel drowsy.

If it’s been awhile since you woke up feeling refreshed, evaluate your sleep routines and lifestyle to see where you can make healthy changes.

Sticking to a good sleep routine and following the suggestions here can make a big difference.

You’ll wake up feeling rested, refreshed and ready for your next challenge.

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Exercise at this Time of Day For Better Sleep (2016). Retrieved from Sleep.org, https://sleep.org/articles/exercise-time-of-day/
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? (2016). Retrieved from National Sleep Foundation,
https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1
Kiem, B. (2015, March). Screens may be terrible for you and now we know why. Retrieved from Wired, http://www.wired.com/2015/03/artificial-light-may-be-unhealthy/
Scotti, D. (2015, March). Science Says Sex Before Bed Might Be The Cure For Your Insomnia. Retrieved from Elite Daily, http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/sex-before-bed-cure-insomnia/975867/
Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders (2016). Retrieved from WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/circadian-rhythm-disorders-cause
Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock. (2016). National Sleep Foundation.
Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock
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http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/15-ways-sleep-better-and-wake-refreshed.html