Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo delves into the ins and outs of why you might wake up feeling less than refreshed.
Lockdown life has many of us feeling fatigued by 9am. I mean, I get it (I’m in Sydney, which is copping the flack of Delta).
After 6 or so weeks with the same basic routine day in, day out – wake, watch sunrise and meditate, go for a walk or two, train, work, eat, and repeat the next 78 days (or however many).. It becomes tiresome. And I don’t even have a sleep problem.
So – for those who’s sleep is subpar, I can only imagine how lacklustre you’re feeling, and how you’re eager to sink your teeth into anything that offers you a spur of energy in your mornings.
I’m happy to say, this article is the perfect read for you. And yes, you can do all of these activities in lockdown or not.
Enjoy Sleep Well Wednesdays, and stay safe.
1. Wake in stage 1 NREM sleep – not deep sleep
Waking up groggy, exhausted and unable to think straight?
This may be simply because you’ve woken from REM sleep, and are experiencing ‘sleep inertia’, which is the feeling of being drunk upon waking.
Avoid this by having an alarm which detects your sleep stages, and then awakens you (within a certain timeframe) while you’re in a lighter sleep stage.
Apps such as Good Morning Alarm Clock can help you do this.
2. Exposure yourself to morning light
Morning light suppresses melatonin, the hormone which drives you to be sleepy, as verified in clinical research.
This is particularly important in the first hour, when the circadian clock is most sensitive to light (according to National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety .)
Second to that, light helps us produce vitamin D, which is critical for sleep. Especially as 68% of adults are deficient in this key micronutrient, it’s vital to get your daily dose.
Finally, sunlight is also a natural stress protector: it enhances the production of happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine. As a result, you’re naturally happier – just what you want to start the day, right?
Starting the morning with meditation is principle: it makes you more resilient against stress. And especially in lockdown, that’s exactly what we all need right now – less stress.
Meditation’s anti-stress effects are so significant that a clinical study found can reduce symptoms of PTSD by 73%.
Further research shows long term meditators have lower levels of morning stress hormone cortisol – ideal if you’re waking with a flurry of thoughts.
And for novices, be enthused: the research shows a single session of mindfulness meditation can lower stress and anxiety – so don’t be overwhelmed, and just start with one session.
Apps like Headspace can be helpful, and something that I personally use and love.
This works for a few reasons:
First, morning fitness can help you avoid caffeine: Research shows just 15 minutes of stair climbing can enhance energy more than an espresso, so you’re less dependent upon those coffee beans which can also leave you exhausted after the high wears off.
Second, a survey of 155,000 adults found those who had exercised – even something simple like gardening or walking – were 1/3 less likely to report sleep problems.
Further studies also show exercise can increase SWS – slow wave sleep – by 73% ,
And third, it promotes endorphins such as serotonin and dopamine, your feel good hormones. Akin to the effect of light, this leaves you that tad more upbeat in the morning – even if you’re not a morning person.