Go for a combination of practicing a relaxing nighttime routine to help you unwind faster, followed by an energizing morning routine to jump start your day.
Tip #1. Start the night before.
- Set a bedtime alarm on your phone to go off 30 minutes before you need to sleep, which will signal to you that you need to finish up whichever activities you’re working on. If your goal is to get up at 6 a.m., you should aim to fall asleep between 10 and 11 p.m. for a solid 7–8 hours of rest.
- Optimize your dinner. Many people have a hard time falling asleep due to heavier foods or eating late. Avoid fried food and caffeine (which can be in some desserts and sugary drinks), and instead go with a lighter dinner with a big salad. Schedule your dinner at least a few hours before your bedtime.
- Take a short walk. Even 30 minutes after dinner should work. Being outside is good for your digestion, you get some fresh air, and you rest your mind from all the activities you’ve completed during your busy day. A walk also sends signals to the body that it’s time to unwind and relax.
- Get away from electronics. This applies to your computer and TV, which you should get away about an hour before bedtime. Instead, listen to a podcast on a topic you find interesting, queue up some relaxing music and listen with your eyes closed as you’re sitting on the couch, or read a book to stimulate your imagination.
- Have a cup of herbal tea (no caffeine), some warm milk with honey, or a around the time your alarm goes off. These warm drinks can help you feel more sleepy.
- Optimize your room for sleep. Sleep in a well ventilated room, keep your window open at least a little, raise the blinds or move the curtains aside to let daylight in, and don’t place anything on your eyes so that your body can react to the natural morning light when it’s time to wake up.
Tip #2. Create a morning routine to get more energy for the day.
- Customize your morning alarm. Create an alarm that is more friendly to your sleepy self. For example, pick a ring tone that’s unusual but not irritating, or set your alarm to vibrate mode for a more subtle sound. Make a recording of your own voice saying a positive message, then save it as your alarm tone. Queue up some music that you find uplifting and energizing, and schedule it to play when you need to wake up.
- Reset your brain with meditation. Researchers say that when we meditate early, we sleep better at night. Meditating can also help you deal better with the thousands of random thoughts that occupy you throughout the day and may contribute to your feeling stressed, rushed, and overwhelmed. To get started, download the app and practice for only 10 minutes; it’s easy and even fun for absolute beginners.
- Get moving! Pick a super short and targeted workout to help your body wake up and prepare for the work ahead. Here are some ideas for a 10–15 minute wake-up session:
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- Have breakfast. Don’t work on an empty stomach. The right kind of breakfast will fill you up, give you energy, and can even improve the way your brain functions. For example:
- Oatmeal mixed with 1 tablespoon flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sliced banana or other fresh fruit, and some walnuts or almonds on top. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that boosts cerebral cortex function.
- A parfait that consists of layering 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola, 1 cup fresh fruit (sliced or diced), and a spoonful of nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Almonds are beneficial for increased attention and awareness, as well as restoring memory and cognitive function.
- Eat an egg! Eggs are a powerful mix of B vitamins (they help nerve cells to burn glucose), antioxidants (they protect neurons against damage), and omega-3 fatty acids (they keep nerve cells functioning at optimal speed).