We focus a lot on what you do at night and how to have a stellar nighttime routine for sleep. However, your morning routine can also impact your sleep. Getting enough sleep is vital for optimal functioning, and physical/emotional wellbeing. There are many adults, however, that don't receive their recommended number of hours of sleep on a regular basis.
The recommended number of hours is 7-8 hours. If someone deviates from this every once in a while, then they can balance it out the following night(s). However, when this is a common pattern, then it leads to chronic sleep deprivation which can lead to regular suboptimal performance.
What you do at night, however, is not the main thing that impacts your sleep. What you do in the morning can also impact your sleep. Here are five morning habits that are actually ruining your sleep.
1. Drinking Too Much Caffeine
When you're shuffling around in the morning, a cup of Joe may be your first go to. However, your caffeine intake may actually be ruining your sleep. Most adults can safely have up to 400 mg of caffeine each day. That is about four cups of brewed coffee or two energy drinks. However, it's important to know that caffeine levels in energy drinks can vary widely from the amount that is listed on the label.
The effects of caffeine begin to take place within about 15 minutes and peak an hour later. Six hours after caffeine is consumed, half of it is still present in the body, and it can take up to 10 hours for caffeine to completely clear.
This means that by the time it's time to go to bed, if you have been drinking caffeine all morning, then you may still have some in your body when it's time to go to bed. Reducing your caffeine intake in the morning can help your sleep efforts later in the night.
2. Inconsistent Wake Up Times
Sleeping in when you can feels really great. Especially with the changes of the pandemic, our days can be much more unstructured than they used to. This can lead to inconsistent wake up times. If you wake up at 7 am on one day and 10 am another day, then your brain may have trouble knowing what time to go to bed.
Many sleep experts suggest that people set a standard time to wake up and stick to it every day to the best of their ability, including the weekends.
This is because your body may not be ready to go to bed at night because sleeping in extra throws off your circadian rhythm and your bodies natural sleep pressure. An irregular sleep schedule can increase your risk of social jet lag, which is essentially the difference between your bodies natural rhythm and your social schedule. This has been linked to health issues like increased inflammation and a higher risk of depression.
However, sleeping in on the weekends can be beneficial if you are extremely sleep deprived and are looking to make up some of that time. But, it's important to understand that 5 days of bad sleep is not going to be remedied by a few extra hours a couple of days out the week. Consistent sleep schedules can really help reduce the need to sleep in on the weekends.
3. Little Exposure to Natural Sunlight
Although you are supposed to fall asleep in complete darkness, when it's time to wake up and get going in the morning, sunlight can be a great aid to getting things going. Our circadian rhythms are regulated by exposure to light through our retinas, which are a group of cells in the back of the eye.
This leads to the release of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that also kickstarts all of the other hormones and physiological processes that are required to get our bodies started. So, exposure to light first thing in the morning can help shift our bedtimes earlier - creating feelings of sleepiness earlier in the evenings - and wake us up easier in the mornings.
If you can open the curtains so they begin to let light in in the mornings, or invest in lamps that automatically turn on a light in the morning can help cue your body that it's time to wake up.
4. You Have Nothing Planned
Creating a to-do list or planning out your day is one of the best ways to stay on track throughout the day. it is also the best way to reduce any anxiety or stress that creeps up at the end of the day. Having your day planned out gives you a place to dump your brain the night before, while also giving you some motivation to wake up and some direction on how to start your day.
It's important to make sure that your to-do list is realistic and is not the cause of undue stress and anxiety. If you make it too long and too hard to accomplish, then it can actually have the opposite effect on your sleep. Choose about 3-5 items that you can actually accomplish and are a good way to get your day started.
5. Picking Up Your Phone
It's almost second nature to pick up our phones right after the alarms go off. However, this means that you're letting someone else dictate what's the first thing on your mind. This can set the tone for the rest of the day, and even bleed into bedtime.
There could be something stressful - an email, a news alert, comments on social media - and the level of stress that that information triggers can be very distressing for the rest of the morning and throughout the day.
In the mornings, it's important to be intentional about what we expose ourselves to and how we start the day. Avoid this by putting the phone in another room and use an alternative source for your alarm so you aren't tempted. After you get ready and have a moment to reflect on the day, then you can put yourself in a better position to take in what's on your phone.
These morning routines may be the thing that is interrupting your sleep. However, if you think the problem could be deeper,then please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and speak with a sleep health expert at one of our facilities.