Better Sleep: How to Wake Up and Wind Down the Right Way
If you’re like many Americans, your busy life often keeps your mind and body racing all day long. You hit snooze when the alarm sounds, slog through the work day and scroll through social media late into the night in an attempt to quiet your chattering mind.
“People are getting up early and staying up late trying to finish everything on their to-do lists,” says Aimee Richardson, a health coach and tobacco treatment specialist at Henry Ford Health System. “The problem is, our bodies and minds never have time to rest.” We’re overtired, overtaxed and undernourished — and that impacts our ability to enjoy life and be productive.
Tips to Rise and Shine
During winter, shorter days, longer nights and colder weather can make getting up in the morning a challenge. These five wake-up strategies can motivate you to start your day in a positive way:
- Don’t hit snooze:“Set your alarm for when you absolutely need to get up,” Richardson says. “Otherwise, instead of spending more time in deep, restorative sleep, you’re getting an hour of crummy sleep.”
- Set an intention: Instead of reaching for your phone within minutes of waking, take a few deep breaths and set an intention for the day ahead. What are you most looking forward to? What do you want to accomplish? What mindset do you want to adopt throughout the day? Come up with a plan of attack and visualize success.
- Do something fun: Start the morning with something fun, even if it’s just some light stretches or a 10-minute stroll around the block. “When you fill your morning with something good, it starts your day on the right foot,” Richardson says.
- Eat clean: You wouldn’t try to drive your car without any gas, so you shouldn’t launch into your day without the proper fuel. Choose nourishing breakfast foods that boast protein and fiber, so you’ll stay full longer. A few solid choices: Oatmeal with nuts and berries, eggs and whole grain toast, and Greek yogurt with fruit.
- Make your bed: “If you make your bed as soon as you get up, you won’t be as tempted to get back into it,” Richardson says. Plus, when your bed is clean and well kept, it will be more inviting at the end of the day.
Tips to Wind Down and Relax
To wake up refreshed and invigorated, it’s essential to sleep well. So, while your wake-up routine may get the most attention, it’s important to set the tone for restful slumber with a similar ritual. Confused about how to fall asleep? A few ideas:
- Set an alarm: Just as you would set an alarm to start your day, consider setting an alarm to start winding down. “The notification will remind you to shut down your devices and do something calming,” Richardson says. A few ideas: Take a warm bath, meditate, stretch or sip caffeine-free tea.
- Put your phone to bed: It’s not enough just to silence your ringer and set your phone on the nightstand. Studies show having your device nearby can trigger stress, anxiety and other woes. A better strategy: Keep phones in a basket near the front door. That way, you won’t be tempted to check in the middle of the night.
- Create a soothing environment: Make the bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep it dark, cool and clean, and choose comfortable bedding that helps you feel at peace.
- Watch the booze: While alcohol may take the edge off of your stress level and help you relax, it can also interfere with quality sleep. You may fall asleep easily, but periodically wake during the night.
- Lose the latte: Caffeine stays in your system much longer than people realize, Richardson says. In fact, coffee can produce stimulating effects for five to seven hours after that first sip. Indulge in a latte at 4 p.m. for an afternoon boost and you might pay for it come 11 p.m. when you’re wide awake.
Interested in learning more wellness tricks to keep you in top shape? Henry Ford’s health and wellness coaching could be just what you need. The 12-week program walks you through every step from visualizing your ideal life to accomplishing your dreams.
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Aimee Richardson, MCHES, CHWC, CTTS, leads the health coaching program at Henry Ford Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. She is an experienced health educator and certified tobacco treatment specialist.