Getting up early is one of those Sisyphean wellness goals I resolve to achieve every single New Year, along with exercising more and Seamless-ing less. Does it ever work? Lol.
But it's *possible*, and, as basically every high-performing HBIC will tell you, essential to packing everything you want to do into your day. What solution for us lazy girls? We reached out to Dr. Janet K. Kennedy, a clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby (and You) to tell us.
"The best way to start getting to bed earlier is to start getting up earlier every day of the week. Set your alarm for something reasonable—don't plan to shift from getting up at 8:30 a.m. to getting up at 5:00 a.m. all at once. Try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier for a week before moving it earlier again. No snoozing allowed. Once your body adjusts to waking earlier, you will naturally become sleepy earlier at night."
Maintaining this sleep schedule despite the ebbs and flows of your weekend plans (AKA drinking) might seem like a big ask, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends that you stick to it to keep your body clock on track.
"It's very easy to get sucked into the web, work, social networking, and texting at night—all of which is overstimulating (and can alter your body's release of melatonin in some cases). It's important to set limits and unplug at least one hour before bed to allow your mind to settle down. Don't check work email before bed. It will only start your mind buzzing and there's no real action you can take in the middle of the night. Let it wait until morning."
If you've ever wondered why people recommend exercise to help you fall asleep more easily at bedtime, it's because, as Dr. Kennedy explains, "fresh air and sunlight will help to boost energy by suppressing the body's melatonin," while exercise may affect the body's circadian patterns and decrease the anxious and depressive symptoms that keep people tossing and turning before a big meeting.
As for your daily coffee and post-work nap habits? The National Sleep Foundation recommends cutting down on both to keep your circadian clock in rhythm. Kennedy agrees: "Caffeine is fine in moderation, but too much will leave you dragging."
Some people swear by transitioning from regular globes to smart bulbs that emit brighter and dimmer lights at different hours of the day in order to match the sun's light at any given moment. And the National Sleep Foundation supports this idea, suggesting that people dim lights before bedtime and set a temperature that falls between 60 and 67 degrees to get to sleep faster.
Dr. Kennedy also says people can offset early morning fatigue from dehydration by putting a glass of water next to your bed and drinking it down as soon as the alarm goes off.
There's been much ado about getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep every night. But does it apply to everyone? According to Dr. Kennedy, no: "There is no golden rule. When people try to apply rules like that to sleep, they end up sleeping worse because they think too much about sleep and get anxious, spend too much time in bed (much of it awake and frustrated) and start to create problems where there were none. If a person is in good health, feels reasonably well rested most of the time, falls asleep easily (but not spontaneously or in inappropriate places), and wakes up at approximately the same time most days, she is likely getting enough sleep. "