Exclusive content for GuavaPass 6 Week Challengers
For some people, waking up can be a total gamble – you can either wake up feeling pumped and ready to take on the day, or feeling lousy while pulling up the “not a morning person” excuse. Fret not, waking up in the morning feeling fresh and rejuvenated is actually not a rocket science. We can optimize the probability of it.
Now the question is: How do we do that?
We can do it by working in sync with our circadian rhythm – the 24-hour cycle which sets the behavioral pattern in all living beings; animals, plants and ultimately – us! The circadian rhythm plays an important role in our daily functioning. It explains why we tend to feel sleepy at certain times of the day or why we can find ourselves most awake and concentrated at other times. Thus, tackling the circadian rhythm is one way to a well-rested sleep and waking up feeling energized. There are also other factors aside from the circadian rhythm that affect our sleep and mornings, which we will put our focus on as well.
Follow me with these daily routines and let’s live our days like a champ.
1. Stick to the same wake time
Setting the same alarm and waking up at the same time every day can help your body establish an “internal clock”. This internal or body clock is more effective than your alarm – there’s no snooze button! This allows your body to adapt to a certain pattern and induce you to feel tired and sleepy at the right time at night and help you wake up in the morning more easily. This is the first step in working in sync with your circadian rhythm.
2. Befriend the daylight
Melatonin – a hormone produced at night by the brain’s pineal gland, is a key pacesetter in our body’s circadian rhythm. Exposing yourself to a lot of sunlight during the day can sooner induce the production of nocturnal melatonin, which helps you to sleep more easily at night. The melatonin precursor, serotonin, is also affected by the daylight exposure. Normally produced during the day, serotonin is converted into melatonin during the night. A moderately high level of serotonin can boost your mood and a calm yet focused mental outlook.
For those of you who mostly spend your day working indoors, dedicate a good amount outdoors and go shades-free!
3. Eat lighter in the evening
Eating too much food before bed forces your body to use the available energy to digest food while you’re trying to rest so you might not feel as recharged when you wake up. Go for a low sugar and low Glycemic Index (GI) food instead, such as veggies and fruits. Foods with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. A stable blood sugar will result in a better sleep. If you still want a good carbo-rich full meal for dinner though, try to have them at least 4-5 hours before you go to bed. It is important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t go to bed with an empty stomach, so the mantra is you need to eat just the right amount of food before bed, just not too much.
4. Stay away from booze, tea, coffee and chocolate at night
Alcohol drinks can make you feel sleepy but it gives a lower quality of sleep by reducing the time in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after you sleep, it is the time when people dream, and it is believed to be restorative. Disruptions in REM sleep may cause drowsiness and poor concentration during the day.
Moreover, tea and coffee before bed not only makes it harder to sleep due to their caffeine but it also results in fewer hours of deep sleep. Consuming dark chocolate at night is also not recommended as it releases theobromine, which have similar effects caffeine – increase in heart rate and sleeplessness.
5. Ditch your gadgets
Avoid working on your laptop, watching tv or playing phones right before bed. Artificial light around the evening and night time inhibit the release of melatonin. As your melatonin rhythm allows you to sleep when it’s dark outside, keeping the lights on artificially could give your body the “wrong signal”. This will thus keep your body awake and shifts the circadian rhythm to a later hour.
I know it’s almost impossible to not scroll through your phone before bed, but keeping it low will definitely bring a big difference to your sleep quality.
6. Drink your water
Your body is thirsty after hours of not drinking anything. One of the best things you can do when you wake up is to drink at least 16oz (500ml) of water. Water can keep you hydrated as well as help fire up your metabolism, fuel the brain and flush out toxins, which result in a glowing skin!
7. Do some deep breathing
Deep breathing can elicit a sense of relaxation and thus can calm the mind and aid to sleep. Deep breathing before going to bed can also make you feel more relaxed and easier to sleep. Some people practice “The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise” formulated by a Harvard trained medical doctor, Dr. Andrew Weil, and found themselves falling asleep in 60 seconds after.
The exercise goes something like this:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
- Hold your breath for a count of seven
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Deep breathing in the morning is also helpful in improving circulation, easing bodily discomfort and increases the release of serotonin, which can boosts your mood at an instant!
10. Take a “James Bond Shower”
Getting into a cold shower in the morning may sound like your worst nightmare but it actually offers heaps of health benefits. Just like the name, once you get out of the shower you’ll be ready to cease the day like a Bond! It’s believed that cold showers can increase alertness. The deep breathing in response to our body’s shock to the cold water increases our overall oxygen intake and helps us keep warm. Our heart rate will also increase and thus improve our heart health and circulation system.
I, personally have been a fan of cold showers. First attempts will be challenging but once you get the hang of it, it’ll be as breezy as a summertime splash by the waterfall! You’ll be looking forward to the blissful warm feeling right after the shower. It’s great.
Activate your joints and muscles for the day by doing some stretching in the morning. A good stretching can improve your mobility and flexibility, which are crucial health components to maintain. Stretching session also allows you to be in a mindful state of your body and soul. A good way to start your day.
12. Set your goal
Last but not least, kickstart your day with a good to-do list! For example, planning your exercise and meals can help you better achieve your fitness goals and live up your enthusiasm throughout the day.
Wait no more, your next rejuvenated morning starts tomorrow!
Make sure you try all these steps for a more restful and better quality sleep throughout the 6 Week Challenge!