Finding yourself unmotivated and hitting snooze in the morning may be due to a number of inconsistencies piling up in your routine. Today let’s look at the foundation of quality sleep and components that create pep in your morning.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the circadian biological clock is controlled by a part of the brain called Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), a group of cells in the hypothalamus that respond to light and dark signals.
From the optic nerve of the eye, light travels to the SCN, signaling the internal clock that it is time to be awake. The SCN signals to other parts of the brain that control hormones, body temperature and other functions that play a role in making us feel sleepy or awake.
In the mornings, with exposure to light, the SCN sends signals to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol. The SCN also responds to light by delaying the release of other hormones like melatonin, which is associated with sleep onset and is produced when the eyes signal to the SCN that it is dark.
Why is this important? Quality sleep is the key to hitting your rhythm which brings everything else into sync.
Yes, you may need 7-9 hours of sleep but quality counts. It is not all about the number of minutes you are laying in bed. Several factors qualify as quality sleep. Sleep Health, the Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, indicates the following as quality restful nights:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep
With numbers at 27 percent of the population struggling to fall asleep in 30 minutes or less proves a lot of anxiety is on the minds of Americans when laying their head down on the pillow. Identifying ways to alleviate the sleep loss when first lying down may eliminate the restlessness.
Add Exercise to the Morning
Exercise including yoga, meditation, or running can help unwind your anxiety and release the toxins clogging your mind and body. By pursuing the right mix of physical activity, a short 30 minutes creates the balance needed for a restful night and a clear conscience.
If you are already an early bird but struggling with energy, maybe try to start the day with your 30 minute exercise.
For those night owls who struggle with mornings, find a friend at work and walk over the lunch hour or join an exercise class after work.
A key to getting quality sleep and maintaining motivation each morning is to plan out your meals. The last thing you want is to find yourself in one of these don’t situations at bedtime causing less quality sleep at night.
- Don’t skimp, and then splurge. For those looking to lose a few pounds by eating light but are tempted to splurge at the end of the day, you may be causing an increase in hormone levels and active blood flow in digestion creating irregular sleep patterns.
- Do eat early and often. Balancing out your meals provide equality amongst the proteins and nutritional needs a single meal provides. Three to six mini meals a day are suggested.
- Don’t go to extremes. If you consistently miss a sufficient amount of calories, you are cheating your body of needed nutrients to function a full 24 hours causing low iron deficiency and other possible issues.
- Do go herbal. Add a cup of chamomile at night which can act as a mild, healthy sedative or passion fruit tea that contains “Harman alkaloids—chemicals found in high levels in the flower—act on your nervous system to make you tired.” Consider adding honey to your tea. Yes, it is a sugar but a natural sugar easily allowing tryptophan to enter the brain.
- Do strike a balance. “A well-rounded diet with foods high in B vitamins, calcium, and zinc will help you rest better. Vitamin B6 signals your body to produce the calming hormone serotonin and calcium and zinc are natural relaxants."
So what should you eat in the morning to wake yourself up? Harvard Medical School recommends four ways to boost your energy.
- Choose whole grain cereals and breads to help keep your blood sugar balanced. To choose the healthiest breakfast cereal, read the label and look for:
5 grams or more of fiber per serving
less than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving
less than 5 grams of sugar per serving
whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list
- Add protein like Greek yogurt or an egg. “You might also include foods that have healthful fats such as those in nuts or salmon. Limit processed meats to the occasional treat as these foods are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.”
- Keep breakfast at home. Most of the choices, outside plain toast and oats, are chock full of refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and high sodium.
- Start blending your breakfast with juices, fruits, wheat germ, whey protein, and Greek yogurt with ice and almond milk.
If you notice switching up breakfast, adding some exercise, and changing your bedtime routine is still not offering you the motivation to wake up, you may need a sleep study. To discover if there are underlying causes to your lack of sleep, contact the Alaska Sleep Education Center for a free 10 minute phone consultation.
If you live in the state of Alaska, our board-certified sleep specialists can even make a Home Sleep Test work for you by calling 1-855-AKSLEEP.