You know the drill. We’ve done everything right. We got to bed on time, we even managed to drift off fairly quickly. But for some reason, we still feel tired in the morning. I’ve written a few articles now about what we can do to get a better night’s sleep. So today I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what to do in the morning.
This is something that has been bothering me lately. I’ve had a good run recently, sleeping well. I follow the advice I share and it’s been helping me fall asleep quickly most nights. However, for the last week or so I have been waking up unbelievably tired. This then has a knock-on effect for the rest of the day. I’m rarely back to 100% if the day starts like this.
So let’s look at some of the reasons why this happens, what we can do to prevent being tired in the morning and what to do once it’s happened.
What to do the night before to avoid being tired in the morning
We need to treat the night before like a newborn baby. It needs nurturing, we need to feed it and make sure it’s looked after the right way. Then we might be rewarded with a happy morning.
So first things first, the number one top tip — make sure you are comfortable at night. Get yourself a new mattress if yours isn’t a comfort. A bad mattress can make for a night of stressful sleep and give you all sorts of alignment problems. Try sleeping naked, your body likes that as it helps your skin breathe.
Winding down at night with a cup of chamomile tea and a good book is an excellent way to get you in the mindset for sleep. Getting yourself to bed at a reasonable time and making sure you get your optimal amount of sleep is imperative every night. If you don’t do this then you are setting yourself up for a difficult morning.
Give yourself more time in the morning
Mornings are my least favourite time of the day. I consider myself to be a night owl so early rises do not interest me. On any given day off it is unlikely I will get out of bed before 11:30 am. I would like to stress that I work slightly later hours. A typical workday is from 1 pm till 11 pm, so I am somewhat conditioned to wake up later.
However, for as long as I can remember I’ve preferred to stay up late and get up late. It was true in university, it was true in college and it was true at school. Of course, for people like me, the world doesn’t work that way. The school day starts at 8 am, the workday starts at 9 am. These rigid schedules with no flexible set me up for failure. How can I not be tired in the morning?
The thing is most of us aren’t making enough time for ourselves in the morning. I give myself half an hour to get up, get dressed, brush my teeth and if there is time shower and eat breakfast. I leave the house at half-past and I am at work at quarter too but the thing is I haven’t finished waking up. (And before some wise guy says it, I shower in the evening and that’s okay.)
So if you are anything like me you can probably guess what I am going to say. We need to get up earlier and take our time in the morning. No more thinking to ourselves “I should have got up earlier,” “I should have eaten breakfast,” “Why do I keep letting myself down.”
Making the morning matter
Okay, so I’m just going to tell you why we need to eat breakfast. And I’m going to tell you what that needs to be carbohydrates. Don’t listen to all the stupid fad diets that villianise carbs. They’re not the reason you can’t lose weight (calories in versus calories out = eat smart and move more. Sorted) and they’re not bad for you. Eat carbs in the morning because they naturally release energy throughout the day. Sounds good right?
One of my favourite things to have in the morning is peanut butter on toast. And it has to be crunchy!! I’ll also make a smoothie for a mid-morning snack to stave off any cravings.
Well, how do we make sure we get enough sleep AND get up earlier. Yeah, this is my Mount Everest too. But I promise it is doable and I’ll go over some of my top tips now. DO NOT SNOOZE YOUR ALARM. This one is a killer. I know how easy it is to think just 10 more minutes. But the thing is that 10 minutes is going to crap sleep. A complete REM cycle is 90 minutes or thereabout. So taking an extra 10 is ensuring the last bit of sleep you have is completely unrestful and you will be tired in the morning.
It’s a little alarming
Now speaking of alarms, there’s a couple of ways to approach this. Make your alarm the radio or a song you like as that may encourage you to engage with it. Of course, we don’t use our phone at night so we could place that on the other side of the room so you have to get up to turn the alarm off. Or use a rug alarm.
A big drink of water in the morning is a great way to get the body’s systems flowing. So have a bottle of water by your bed and be sure to have some. Now that we’re up a little early, do something you enjoy, play a game, watch some TV or take a 20-minute shower. Just do you before we do for someone else. This helps to condition us into associating the mornings with something we enjoy rather than our commute to work and the horrors that come with it.
Still tired in the morning
Let’s look at what we can do when it’s morning and we still feel tired. Is there anything we can do to reverse this and feel okay again? There’s nothing worse than not having the energy for an entire day. It can make school harder and work drag. It makes fun things less fun and everything seems a little dull.
I’m an introvert, but I’m not sure it was always that way. I think it’s something I developed as I got older and incidentally more tired. I don’t know if I can out and out blame being tired on the fact I struggle socially. But I feel safe in the assumption that it has been a contributing factor.
Because I am tired throughout the day my desire to be at home skyrockets and I try not to deny myself the things I need. I feel like I am less able to engage in conversation and then I start to feel a little embarrassed. Get. Me. Home. This all stems from being tired in the morning and the knock-on effects that can have throughout the day.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. In fact, I think there is lots of evidence to suggest we are becoming more anxious as a society. I suppose that’s a topic for another article. If my theory is correct then by dealing with our sleep issues we may be able to address our social issues.
To coffee or not to coffee
I’m always a little hesitant to recommend coffee or caffeine in general. A lot of people rely on several cups of coffee to get them through the day. This doesn’t really address the root cause of the problem. However, my friend has been on at me a lot recently about coffee.
It’s okay to use coffee, absolutely. I would recommend using it early in the morning and not touching the stuff again as it ticks into the afternoon. Caffeine can affect your ability to sleep at night, so the early the better, or not at all.
Think about incorporating some exercise into your morning. This will be great for waking you up and has the added benefit of helping you get to sleep later in the day. Exercise man, it really does help.
Stay consistent always
The key to anything like this is to keep it up and stay consistent. There could be plenty of reasons you feel tired in the morning. But if you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, and work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle you should see results.
Any sort of lifestyle change takes a while to develop into habits. You didn’t have sleep problems overnight, they started gradually. The same is true for getting your sleep habits back on track.
For a lot of us we associate mornings with the things we don’t want to do. Jobs or school work being chief among them. Why would we want to wake up? That’s why it’s important to start taking some ‘me time’ in the morning, giving yourself a reason to want to get up.
How long will it take if I start today
Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s an important one. It affects your entire life and every aspect of it. So it’s really important to take it seriously. At first, your body is going to resist the change. It will not want to wake up early, it’s not used to it.
The key here is hearing that and choosing to ignore that. So we’re leaving our phones and alarms on the other side of the room. Don’t look back at the bed. Don’t do it. It’ll be inviting but we’re not going to accept the invitation.
Next, we’re having a glass of water and stretching out our muscles to help the body wake up. Now it’s breakfast, and we need to pick something that will help release energy throughout the day. If we really need it we’ll have some coffee too.
Now we need to pick an activity, something for us. So have a think about something you like doing and could fit into a 30–60 minute slot in the morning. For me, I’m going to try and focus on getting some early morning exercise. Sometimes if I feel up to it I walk in to work. This is a 90-minute trek, so I have to be really feeling it.
Related: How much melatonin should you take?
Take back your mornings and stop feeling tired altogether
Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas of why the morning might be more important than you thought. We need to be making a little bit more time for ourselves in the morning. This will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the day.
We get to be healthy, happy and rested for the whole day. This will no doubt have a knock-on effect on other areas of our lives. Please feel free to get in contact with me and let me know how you are getting.
If you have any good advice you would like to share I would warmly welcome it! You can contact me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.