Let’s start with the bad news: Only about 1 in 10 people is a true morning person, according to The Body Clock Guide to Better Health. The good news is, only 2 in 10 fall into the category of night owls, while the rest fall somewhere in between. Better still: Even if you operate best in the wee hours of the night, you can still train yourself to be an early riser. Here’s how.
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Waking well-rested starts with getting enough sleep. “Hitting the snooze button a couple times before getting up is a clear sign of sleep deprivation,” says Nathaniel Watson, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “If you are getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake up on time without a morning alarm.” Sounds easier said than done? First, follow these tips for catching the zzz’s you need to wake refreshed.
Practice good sleep hygiene
“Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep,” says Dr. Watson. If you need to shift your schedule earlier, start moving your bedtime forward by just 15 minutes at a time. Adjustments more drastic than that will keep you rebounding between early and late bedtimes rather than creating lasting change.
Take your time
Balancing your own well-being against other personal and professional responsibilities is tough. Often, finding the right work-life equilibrium starts with saying “No,” and so does getting enough sleep. Pare down your evening commitments so that you’ve got an hour completely blocked off to wind down before bed.
Implement a routine
Establishing a schedule can help clue our bodies in to what’s to come. Maintaining a regular evening routine will help chill you out and let your mind know that it’s nearly time to fall asleep. For example, that could mean drinking a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading for 20 minutes each evening before bed.
If you have a sleep debt to repay, it’s better to nap during the day than to mess up your nightly sleep schedule. That said, you don’t want a daytime snooze to keep you up at night. (For more napping tips head here!)
Eat (and drink) smart
Some experts caution against going to bed too full or too hungry, as the discomfort may keep you awake. The same goes for drinking: Sipping too much before bed can cause mid-slumber trips to the bathroom, and caffeine and alcohol in particular have been shown to disrupt sleep.
Any kind of light can shift circadian rhythms, making it harder to sleep at night. And if you’re constantly plugged in, you’re even less likely to hit the hay right away. Research has shown that the blue light emitted by electronics like laptops and cell phones disturbs sleep even more than natural light. Turn off those electronic screens at least an hour before bed to make dozing easier.
Prep before bed
Wondering what to do with that electronic-free hour? Use the time to get together anything you’ll need in the a.m.—like a healthy lunch, make-ahead breakfast, or a gym bag. Shortening your morning to-do list just might make it easier to roll out of bed.
Temperature, noise, light and comfort can all impact your ability to sleep well. A cool, quiet room (around 65 degrees) has been shown to be an effective sleep environment. And if your mattress leaves you achy, you’ve got a good excuse to upgrade—your health may depend on it! The offers even more recommendations for tweaking all of these for better sleep.
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