If you read my post last week about sleeping during the winter time you have already started to hear about my woes of waking up. I am sure many of you have had similar experiences. Trying to wake up with sunlight or no sunlight. Adjusting to the time of the year and daylight savings time. Well there are some helpful hints that I try to put into action.
First, I have spent a good amount of time paying attention to how I feel with different sleep patterns. Sleep is all about having a consistent pattern so even if you are a night worker, staying consistent is what will help you the most. I have found that I am most restful when I get about 8 hours of sleep a night and I feel most refreshed when I wake up early consistently. Now this may not be what everyone needs but it is a common healthy sleep pattern.
What has helped me most to get these 8 hours is to commit to waking up at the same time every day and close to sunrise (during the winter) by having my blinds open in my sleeping room. Regardless of when I am able get in bed and fall asleep, waking up at the same time encourages my energy level to be targeted around this and waking up with the sun helps set my circadian rhythms. When I stay up later one night, I will be more tired the next day and more easily fall asleep at a reasonable time. This pattern is one that I have found to take a few weeks to get into. Do not be discouraged. Allow your body to feel tired and go to bed when you are ready to.
I recently got a Fitbit and have been tracking my sleep to see when I am competing my sleep cycles. They have regulated themselves to allow me to feel most rested when I wake at around 7:45 right now. As I continue to set my alarm for 7:30 I am able to snooze once and feel rested. Soon I will shift my alarm to 7am so that I can get up slightly earlier with the sun and then my cycle will continue to shift. If I wasn’t also waking up early on the weekends this wouldn’t work. The day or two many people often sleep in can really throw off a sleep cycle. My cycle can usually handle one day but as soon as I sleep in for two days in a row it takes me 4-5 days to feel fully rested when I wake in the morning.
Now alarms can be great but do not help everyone. I remember when growing up my brother had a soccer ball alarm that you had to throw across the room to get it to snooze. Yes, snooze. You would have to get out of bed to get it to turn off again. Good idea! One newer technique involves lights that will turn on slowly over the course of 15-30 minutes. I like these especially for individuals that need to wake up prior to the sunrise so that the light can help keep their circadian rhythms working for their own schedule.