The Dalai Lama had some sage advice about the beauty of waking up: “Every day, think as you wake up, ‘today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.'”
If you’re feeling stressed about “not having enough hours in the day,” and waking up each day feeling like crap, why not take a page from the Dalai Lama’s book and make mornings sacred? Some benefits to waking up early include: a healthier diet, more time for working out, and increased energy. Read on to find out how you can be an early riser.
1. Gradually settle into a new time to wake up as well as a new bedtime.
Start small and work your way to an earlier wake-up time. Don’t wake up more than 15 to 30 minutes earlier than your usual wake-up time. Get used to your slightly earlier time for a few days so as not to shock your body. Then set your alarm back 15 more minutes. Keep doing this until you reach your desired new wake-up time. Do this as well for a new bedtime. Waking up earlier while still resuming your night owl ways will make you crash during the day.
2. Create a relaxing environment for sleep.
Avoid bright lights and technology before bed. Bright lights can cause the chemical melatonin, which is responsible for causing sleepiness, to decrease in production. The less melatonin there is in the body, the more the body becomes confused and thinks that it’s time to be awake. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as well, since these components will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
If you’re still tossing and turning, try some warm milk, a soothing hot bath, or aromatherapy to soothe yourself to sleep.
3. When you wake up, get out of bed immediately!
When your alarm goes off, you should get out of bed and get as much natural light as possible. When your body wants to sleep, it produces melatonin to help that process. When your body is exposed to light, melatonin production decreases. When this happens, you will be more alert and ready to start the day. Getting out of bed right away can also give you less motivation to go back to sleep.
4. Exercise regularly.
Now, you may not think you’re the type to wake up for a 6:00am jog around the neighborhood. But getting your heart rate up first thing in the morning will jump start your metabolism, which can assist with weight loss. This can definitely help around the holidays, when high-calorie meals are the norm. Another benefit of exercising first thing in the morning is a better mood. Chemicals released in your body during a workout will make you feel more alert and happy. A vigorous workout will give you more energy all day. Not used to marathon length runs? Start with a brisk walk through the neighborhood. Any type of exercise is good for the body, and good for your sleep cycle.
5. Create a morning ritual.
If you’re finding it hard to wake up because you figure you “don’t have anything to do,” consider making a morning ritual. Make a list and stick with it. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t follow it in order (or at all) at first since it will take awhile for a new routine to stick. Just keep working at it and your morning routine will become automatic. Having a schedule can help you wake up and give purpose to each day. It helps to do things you enjoy in the morning. If you like to write or play music, use the quiet of the morning to devote yourself to your favorite hobbies. Do yoga, pray, meditate, or paint. Make mornings sacred.
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