How to Feel Rested After Little Sleep: Refreshed and Active Mornings

It’s when life is at its busiest that we need a good night sleep more than ever. Days that demand a lot of energy are also the ones you tend to wake up early for - and when the evening finally comes, there are so many things you would have preferred to do than to go straight to sleep. After all, you’ll only wake up again early in the morning, half-rested for another hectic day.

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It’s time to break this pattern of grumpy mornings, sleepy afternoons, and drained energy at the dinner table. I can’t promise that your life will be less demanding or that you’ll suddenly be filled with energy, but with these soothing ideas, you can feel refreshed even after a particularly restless night.

Why all this talk about sleep? We all know that sleep is important and it’s usually not necessary for anyone to tell you so. Still, there seems to be a misconception around leading a busy life and prioritizing sleep, and most of us have had enough of it. When you need to feel refreshed and be able to think clearly, you need to give your brain a rest - and any successfully busy person knows this.

This mindset is especially applicable before an important day such as an exam or work presentation. Your brain works through all the data you’re collecting throughout the day, and going to sleep is the only way for it to organize all of this. In other words; stay awake all night to prepare for the big day, and the chances are that you’ll remember way less than you would have after a good rest.

The 90-minute rule. If you have limited hours to spend in bed, you can consider the 90-minute rule; a well-known trick you can use to take advantage of your natural sleep cycle. Our cycle contains five different phases which each lasts around 90 minutes, after which they’re followed by a short interlude where you’re relatively awake before it continues to the next cycle.

When we know the length of each of these and that there are five of them, we can calculate our way to when the best time is for going to bed. The fact that you’ll be quite awake at the end of a cycle means that you should try to customize your sleep to this in order to feel most refreshed when you wake up. Use this handy calculator, by the way, to find out when you should go to bed tonight.

Make sure you wake up when it’s time, by the way. When you stayed up too long to watch the last episode of your favorite Netflix-show and didn’t quite get the recommended eight hours, get up when you’re used to getting up nonetheless. Even on the days when you don’t need to get up early, you should stick to your original schedule in order to not mess with things, to put it like that.

The bedroom philosophy. To fall asleep more easily, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about bedrooms. It makes sense, though, as feeling calm and relaxed enough to fall asleep is all in your head. Reserving your bedroom for sleeping and sex is not going to give you any benefits to reap immediately - and the same goes for using relaxing colors and fabrics. Colors have an effect on our mood, there’s no doubt about it, and you can use this to your advantage - for relaxed evenings and brisk mornings.

Remember that the one place you spend the most time in is going to have a major effect on your quality of sleep. A bad mattress is bad for both your back and your mood, so find a new bed and get back to sleep already. Although it’s a bit of an investment, it’s a necessary one - a bad mattress causes headaches, drowsiness, back pain, and could even affect your immune system. That’s how important a night of sound sleep if for your health.

Pamper yourself around an hour before bedtime. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or even meaningful; take a nice aromatic bath, listen to calming music, drink a cup of chamomile tea, meditate, anything you can think of that usually calms you down will do. It’s all in your head, as always, so incorporate this mindset of winding down an hour or two before you hit the sack to take full advantage of it.

When you start to associate the feeling of warm, comforting water and the scent of vanilla with bedtime, you can fool yourself slightly when there’s no time or place for having baths. Wash your face with warm water and surround yourself with the same scent you associate with bedtime, and your brain is already getting ready for bed - fooling yourself openly and shamelessly. Here is a list of calming aromas you can use to set the mood.

Drink Water. For the early mornings when your energy level is low, and the amount of sleep you got is preposterous, keep yourself hydrated to stay awake. That means that coffee might not be the best idea as it dries you out and only gives you a small boost that’s not enough to get you through the day - however, you don’t need to chug down bottles of water to stay hydrated.

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Snack on fruits and veggies; they contain a lot of water and will help your body out with the nutrients you need when you’re too sleepy to think about vitamins. Your sense of thirst is not always an accurate way of measuring whether you’ve had enough water - and some people don’t notice this need until they sit down and relax.

Staying hydrated while you’re on the move is especially important, and the best way to know if you’re drinking enough is to check the color of your urine. A darker shade is a sure sign that you’re not getting enough. Check out this article, by the way, for food that’s both delicious and keeps you hydrated as you snack.

See the light. When you manage to get up but feel like going straight back to bed again, you should look to the sun. Just like bright light can ruin a good night sleep when you’re exposed to it before bedtime, the sun will awaken your senses and lift your mood. In the summer, it’s a good idea to simply eat breakfast outside or open all the curtains as soon as you get up.

As it gets darker outside, you’ll automatically feel even sleepier in morning. To trick yourself to stay awake, you need to substitute the sunlight. If you struggle with your mood during winter and your energy levels are lower than the floor you’re standing on, consider investing in a sun lamp. They’re a bit pricey but nothing will wake you up as calmly and natural as the sun, so make sure to take advantage of the sunlight now in the summer - it’s for free, you know.

Have a nap.  It’s just what you’d like to hear when you’re at your sleepiest. Having a nap is healthy and far from reserved for the lazy ones; it doesn’t even have to be that long of a nap, so don’t despair if you’re unable to fall asleep. Some of us fall asleep slowly; to have a fifteen-minute nap seems useless if you’re just going to lay there. 
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However, research shows that just resting your head for a few minutes without sleeping significantly lowers the blood pressure and also improves your memory. Think about it the next time you’re about to doze off half an hour before your big presentation; have a nap rather than revising, and you might be able to perform a lot better.

A good idea, if you have limited time for napping and need to wake up refreshed as soon as you’re up, is to have a cup of coffee before you lay down. It takes about 25 minutes for the caffeine to kick in and shake you awake, which just happens to be the perfect amount of nap time. You could go for any caffeinated drink, of course, so have a look at these wonderful coffee drinks to mix it up a bit.

Get moving. Exercise helps your blood circulation and sharpens your senses. Although it’s not exactly what you want to hear when you’re at your sleepiest, it could help to have a brisk walk in the morning. It certainly won’t do you any harm, and the fresh air is likely to wake you up a bit.

The sun will wake you up at the same time too, so you have multiple reasons to get going. After a good ten-minute walk in the fresh morning air, you’re likely to feel a lot more energized and ready to face the day. In case you’re not an outside person this early in the morning, get used to doing yoga stretched when you wake up - it will boost your blood circulation slightly and help wake you up without having to start your day with a bang.

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