Here’s how to wake up feeling good in the morning:
- Get enough movement during the day — your 30 minutes of cardio, of course, but also sufficient breaks for standing and moving around.
- Eat right during the day: plenty of fresh fruit and veg and little or no processed food.
- Stop drinking caffeine early in the afternoon. 3:00 seems fine for me.
- Eat dinner early and don’t snack in the evening. Drink water rather than wine and espresso.
- Stay away from screens at the end of the day. Don’t work late.
- Count back 8 hours from time to get up and go to bed then. For me, half an hour before is better, so I can read a bit and thus fall asleep more easily.
- Avoid being awakened in the middle of the night.
That last one is the trick. My husband likes to come to bed late and wake me up. His alarm goes off at 2:00 a.m. Our old dog likes to go outside in the middle of the night, and he is very serious about getting out there at 4:30 a.m. most days.
In any case, this seems to be the recipe for me.
I’ve been hearing recently about segmented sleep. The notion is that going to sleep when it gets dark and getting up when it gets light is natural, and when that nighttime darkness is longer than eight hours, it is equally natural to wake up in the middle of it for a few hours and then go back to sleep for the last of the darkness. At least one historian claims that this was the historical norm for humans. References to “first sleep” and “second sleep” abound in the Middle Ages. Artificial light and the industrial revolution changed all that, according to this theory. An alternative is the siesta and a shorter nighttime sleep, still a popular approach in some countries. Some claim that this is a healthier approach than the single sleep pattern into which our modern world has forced us.
There appears to be little actual scientific evidence favoring this. I have at many times in my life suffered from what is called “sleep maintenance insomnia” — waking up in the middle of the night even if nobody wakes me, and being unable to get back to sleep. I’ve sometimes given up and gotten up to work or read for a bit and then gone back to sleep. And of course, since I have four children, I also spent years getting up to feed babies in the middle of the night. I can therefore say from experience that I spend the following day feeling tired and groggy.
So I think that the key to waking up feeling well, at my age at least, is living a clean and sober life, stopping work at a reasonable hour, and hoping that my husband and dog will also take up a similar schedule.