The sun peeks in your window. You roll over. Stretch. You’re tangled up in the covers. “Just five minutes more,” you think as you see the clock through your half-open, sleep-crusted eyes. You bury your head into your pillow, praying for Father Time to magically turn those five minutes to last an extra hour. The familiar ringtone of your phone’s alarm echoes in your ears as you scavenge to hit the “Sleep” button.
Just five more minutes…
Especially after a long holiday weekend, getting up in the morning can be difficult. If you didn’t get enough sleep the night before, waking up tired makes it even worse! Sleep has a powerful affect on your effectiveness. If you’re dragging butt throughout the day, your work, relationships, and health can all suffer.
When I first started teaching Pilates full time + writing full time, waking up tired was actually a sign of pride for me. It was like a badge of honor saying, “I Worked Hard Yesterday.” I used to think that sleep was for the weak, and prided myself on frequent all-nighters or four hours of sleep a night. However, after years of struggling to get out of bed in the morning, I realized how my lack of sleep effected my work performance, clarity, and even my passion for my purpose.
I had to change my paradigm to see sleep deprivation for what it is…dangerous.
Did you know that every single one of the great industrial disasters in the past thirty years — BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, Evangelos Florakis Naval Base Explosion, Piper Alpha, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Bhopal, Three Mile Island — all occurred in the middle of the night? These usually happened because those who were in charge had built up considerable sleep debt, working very long hours.
According to Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement, “Other than eating and breathing, sleeping is the most important source of recovery in our lives.” The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 30 percent, or 40.6 million, of American adults are sleeping six or fewer hours a day!
I was pretty opposed to sleeping at all since birth. My poor mother said I only slept for about an hour and a half a night as a baby. (She’s up for sainthood in my book for that alone.) And, napping was never my thing as a kid. I used to be so paranoid that I would miss something. Thinking that if I slept, I wouldn’t finish a project. I’d miss a deadline. I’d miss a client. But, as I got older, and more and more sleep deprived, I realized how desperately my body craved catching up on my sleep. Ironically, because of my lack of sleep, my fears came true.“The longer, more continuously, and later at night you work, the less efficient and more mistake-prone you become,” states Schwartz (in my latest book-obsession, The Power of Full Engagement). And, boy, did I make some foolish mistakes due to sleep deprivation. (Yes, I’m human.)
Here are three simple steps to prevent you from waking up tired. Throw some morning spring into your step to get your day started on the right foot.
1. Purpose Adds Pep and Pull
Clarifying why you’re waking will help keep you on your morning game. Think of both your broad and specific goals. Pushing to wake up in the morning gets exhausting. Pushing wears you out. But, your purpose, your why, will pull you out of bed.
For example, let’s say you want to wake up 30 minutes earlier to get in a morning gym sesh. Your specific goal is to get to the gym. Your broader, more “meta” goal is because you want to feel healthier, stronger, and better about your body, so you can live a long, fulfilled, and happy life. After getting into the routine, you’ll start to feel the difference in your body, and you’ll be pulled to practice that habit rather than pushed because you’re getting your meta goal. You’re feeling better.
You can even use your alarm clock to remind you of your goal. If your alarm is on your phone, name your alarm your why, like “Make breakfast to make energy!” or “Exercise to Feel Fueled!” That way, when you try to hit snooze, you’ll be reminded of your why.
2. Power down so it’s easier to power up in the morning.
Getting the right amount of sleep the night before is key to waking up refreshed. The National Sleep Foundation found that the light emitted from electronics, like computers and phone screens, actually crashes your circadian rhythm by delaying the release of melatonin in your body. Technology keeps us alert. Thus, you stay charged waaaaaaay past your bedtime.
Whether or not you believe in the ancient Chinese practice of feng sui, there is one rule that doctor’s back up. No electronics next to your bed! Resist the temptation to check your Facebook feed before you go to bed by charging all electronics in another room, designated as your ‘charging station.’ If you use your phone as an alarm clock, set your phone and your alarm on the other side of the room at least one hour before you go to bed. Then, don’t touch it. Set it and forget it. Spend the next hour detoxing from your day. Do your nightly routine. Take a bath. Make some tea. Crack open a nice fiction book (not on an iPad or Kindle) and let your mind rest until tomorrow. Purge your sacred sleeping space of electronics.
3. You got to Move It, Move it!
When you regularly practice high fitness, you can actually perform on less sleep. Since we’re all busy bees, sometimes we don’t have time to get the full eight hours of sleep we need plus a workout. So, you got to move it, move it…like Madagascar.
Trade a half hour of sleep for a half hour of cardiovascular training or strength training in the morning. Exercise significantly improves your concentration, decision making skills, short term memory, alertness, and mood. “Interval training is a means by which to build more energy capacity and to tolerate more stress but also teach the body to recover more efficiently,” writes Schwartz. By stressing your body with exercise, you’ll gain more energy and stop waking up tired. So move it and get yo’ sleep on.
P.S. Don’t snooze on sharing this info. Give your drowsy friend a wake-up call and share this with them. Also, click here to get yourself a copy of Tony Schwartz’ book, The Power of Full Engagement (because it’s seriously amazing!!!)