Have you ever woken up feeling tired and groggy, even though you finally had that lie in you’ve been longing for? Do you ever wonder if there’s a way you could get less sleep and not feel tired? I have!
For a period of time, I felt like it didn’t matter how long I slept for, whether it was 4 hours or 8, the result was the same and this is the last thing you need when you’ve got a busy job to get to.
But over the last year, I’ve made a few changes which have helped me to get out of that tired and groggy place. So, I wanted to share my own experiences and discoveries with you so that you can feel more awake and less tired in the mornings and maybe even cut down on your sleep.
What! But isn’t sleep supposed to be important and shouldn’t we be striving to get more and more of it? Getting enough sleep is important, but what I’ve found is that it’s not just about sleeping more, it’s about getting “quality” sleep.
So, how can you get better quality sleep? Better still, how can you get less sleep and not feel tired?
1.Meditate before bed
If like me you’re one of those people who struggles to switch off and this is making it hard for you to get some shut-eye, then we’ve got something in common.
I’ve always struggled to switch off at the best of times. And like most people, this is a million times harder when things are more stressful than usual. For example, when my boyfriend got diagnosed with a chronic condition back at Uni, sleep was the farthest thing from my mind. In fact, I went through a serious bout of insomnia.
I tried all sorts of things but nothing helped. Until finally, out of pure desperation, I decided to attend a meditation class with the Buddhist society.
I had no idea what to expect, I’d never meditated before and I wasn’t a Buddhist… all I knew is that I needed to get some sleep.
And boy did I. I literally fell asleep right there in the middle of my first meditation, lying on the floor surrounded by 20 people, at least I think that’s how many people were there. As you can imagine its all a blur.
The main thing I remember is that I was out like a light and someone had to actually wake me up! I would say that I was mortified, but they were so nice and hey, mission accomplished. And I’ve never stopped or looked back.
If you haven’t tried meditation, then there’s no better time than now, because if I can fall asleep in such a public place, then just think what it could do for you in the comfort of your bed.
2. Limit light exposure in your bedroom
We used to live in a small flat which had a yellow blind in the bedroom when we moved in. For some reason, we never bothered changing it. Then it broke and our landlord replaced it with a cream one. Oh, and to make things worse, there was a street lamp right outside. In short, we were used to sleeping with a lot of light in the room.
It seems strange now looking back but we just didn’t think it was that bad.
Until we moved into our own place.
When we moved in, one of the first things we bought was curtains for the bedroom. We settled on a reasonably priced set that was neutral so they’d go with most things. They were also blackout.
To be honest, I didn’t think too much about the blackout part, the main thing was that they were reasonably priced and neutral since I had no idea how we were going to decorate.
The next morning, I was in complete shock. I can honestly say I’ve never slept so deeply in my life! Clearly, all that light that had been streaming in through those blinds had been affecting our sleep. Finally cutting out the light meant deeper less disturbed sleep.
3. Go to bed earlier
I previously challenged myself to wake up at 04:30 every morning, after an interview with Bruna Mebs inspired me.
The reason I did this was to spend time doing those things I never get enough time to do, and to improve my health among other things and there were lots of great benefits.
One of the things that changed for me as a result of this challenge was my bedtime. Apparently, if you’re going to wake up at 04:30, then jumping into bed after 01 am isn’t advisable.
Once I got into a good routine of getting to sleep by 10:30 pm, things got a lot easier.
But that’s not all, I also found that I seemed to feel even more refreshed in the morning the earlier I went to bed and I actually found myself waking up even earlier than 04:30 feeling great, and without an alarm.
My takeaway from all this? There’s definitely something to the old adage-one hour before midnight is worth two hours after.
4. Create a good night time routine
If you consider yourself a night owl, then getting to bed early might not come easily. But there are definitely things you can do to make it easier most of which we’ll cover in the following points.
Having a bedtime routine is definitely not just for kids. It will help you to properly wind down making you more relaxed and likely to fall asleep faster when you do go to bed.
It’s easy to work late into the evening if you’re busy, whether you’re working on a project for work or your own side gig, but even something an innocuous as watching a film directly before bed might not be the way to go. It’s about focusing on calming measures.
5. Exercise in the afternoon or evening
There are lots of great benefits to working out at any time of day and there is research that shows there are benefits to working out in the morning or evening, it’s no wonder that exercise is on the priority list for many high performing women.
While studies have shown that working out too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep, exercising in the evening can still help in a few ways:
It gives you a chance to take out your stress and any frustrations of the day on your workout, which means by the time to hit the sack, you’ll be less stressed which is good for sleep.
It causes a release of endorphins which makes you feel happy, almost euphoric, and feeling happy before bed is definitely better than going to bed with negative emotions because you’ll find it much easier to relax.
And if like me you prefer the gym when it’s a little quieter then going at a later time might be best for that too.
6. Select your food wisely
The food you put into your body can help or hinder you when it comes to your sleep.
Foods you should definitely eat include bananas and almonds, which contain magnesium, a sleep-promoting mineral, and cherries, which contain melatonin, a chemical that controls our bodies internal clock.
On the other hand, if you want a good nights sleep, avoid eating overly fatty foods, alcohol, and stimulants like coffee. Opt instead for hot water or camomile tea, or other herb tea, which contains antioxidants.
7. Limit screen time
If you’re doing lots of great things to promote quality sleep, then managing screen time has to be on the list.
Having your phone to hand when you go to sleep, and keeping notifications on means you’re likely to have disruptions from messages, and other app notifications which are just too tempting to ignore.
In addition to this, the effects of the blue light from devices suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone which controls your sleep-wake cycle ( circadian rhythm).
Ideally, you want to leave your phone in another room completely, but if this isn’t possible, its best to turn off notifications, turn on flight mode or simply turn it off.
You’ve had a workout and it’s time to wind things down. Instead of sitting in bed scrolling through your phone, why not take this opportunity to read a good book. After all, reading is one of those things that can sometimes fall off our list of priorities if things become extremely busy. Well, now there’s no excuse since reading before bed has lots of great benefits.
Reading is much more calming, it helps with reducing screen time and you get all the general benefits of reading, like learning something new and getting your creative and imaginative juices flowing. One study has even found that reading for just 30 minutes reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
9. Get hydrated
One factor that can be overlooked when we feel groggy in the mornings is hydration. One of the symptoms that you’re dehydrated is fatigue, so rather than going back to sleep, it might help to have some water by the bedside to drink the minute you wake up if you want to sleep less and still feel good when you get up.
Drinking lots of water will improve your overall energy levels and brain function which is great for productivity. It can help prevent headaches and is even good for weight-loss if this is on your agenda.
10. Cut back the snoozing
I won’t lie, I’m still working on this myself. In fact, instead of hitting snooze, I often set two alarms one for 15 minutes before I actually want to get up, and the other for the actual wake up time.
My reasoning is that my first alarm prepares me to wake up as I just hate nasty surprises. Like, it’s morning already!
But, from waking up at 04:30, every second of sleep matters and I found that it was generally easier to get up the first time around.
More importantly, there is a scientific disadvantage of using snooze. When you wake up for the first time, you’re waking up from a deep sleep, however, when you go back to sleep, unless it’s for a significant amount of time, you’ll only be sleeping lightly and this is far less beneficial and won’t help you feel any less tired when you wake up, in fact, quite the opposite might.
So, If you’re a serial snoozer, it might be time to start cutting back.
There you have it, 10 great things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep and wake up earlier while still feeling fresh.
Have any of these methods worked for you? Or perhaps you’ve got some other ideas that can help us get better quality sleep. If you’ve tried something that’s not on the list and you think it can help others, then we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!