How do you wake yourself up each morning? For many of us, this involves setting some sort of alarm clock. According to sleep psychologist Dr. Samina Ahmed Jauregui, "The jarring sound of an alarm can be problematic, leading to spikes in cortisol levels and triggering the stress response system." This is particularly tough when your alarm goes off while you are in a deeper part of your sleep cycle. You could end up with a condition called sleep inertia creating mood swings, fatigue, confusion and delayed reaction time. In addition, many people use their cell phones as alarm clocks which can distract a person who is trying to go to bed but is tempted to check that one last text or email from their boss.
So, what can you do to provide an easier transition from being asleep to waking up? Ideally, we'd listen to our bodies and allow their natural circadian rhythms to kick in, but modern-day schedules don't often allow for this to occur. Here are some good alternatives to try:
Use a light source instead of sound to awaken.
Open up the curtains before you go to sleep (or set your blinds on a timer) to allow the sun to wake you.
Use a light-based alarm clock that progressively glows brighter.
Use a gentler sound for your alarm such as soft music that will gradually build in intensity or an upbeat, positive song.
Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. Over time, your body can be trained to wake up on this regular schedule - particularly if getting at least seven to nine hours of sleep.
Adapt your diet to aid a good night's sleep such as:
Don't drink caffeine in the afternoon/evening.
Don't eat food or drink alcohol just before bed.
Drink your favorite sleepy-time tea or other beverage before you head to bed.
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