5 tips to wake up earlier and sleep better - Paul Gough Physio Rooms

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5 tips to wake up earlier and sleep better

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We’re going to share with you tips to wake up earlier, get a better quality sleep, and also how to find a week’s worth of spare time.

Believe it or not, most people spend too much time in bed. And even more make the mistake of thinking that more time in bed equals more energy or alertness. It’s a little-known fact that spending more than 7-8 hours in bed is unhealthy, and a lack of knowledge on this subject is why most people lose what I call the ‘bedroom battle’.

It’s a battle that nearly always gets worse in winter and colder months, when you might find it more difficult to get up and about as early as you might like each morning. And what should be the best part of the day can often be the most stressful.

And that alarm clock that might be waking you up each day isn’t helping. Here’s why: the real problem with any alarm is that it’s designed to frighten you into action. When was the last time you thought anything good when you heard a fire alarm, burglar alarm, or ambulance screaming past you with an alarm sounding and blue lights flashing? Never, I hope.

So, an alarm clock really isn’t the best way to begin your day. Natural light lamps, soothing music, your favourite comedy show on the TV are surely better options. And what about the temptation to think you need that bit of, or a lot of, extra time in bed for fear that you’ll be left feeling tired for the rest of the day? I know a lot of people think that way, but it’s a myth – more time spent asleep doesn’t mean more energy in the bank for later in the day.

And here’s why most people lose the battle of the bed. It boils down to a simple formula: lack of vitamin D (sunlight) + extra time spent on the couch in the evening = feeling more lethargic. And that leads to the big mistake of thinking the answer to your energy problem is back in bed to get some more sleep. Rarely, unless there’s an underlying medical condition, or extreme sleep deprivation, or you’re a recently new mum, is this true. In fact, it could be your biggest mistake yet. The reality is that most people need less sleep. And more sleep hoping to feel less tired – well, that’s a fallacy too. No matter how many times you try to arrive at it by sleeping longer, you’ll never find the sustained extra energy you’re looking for.

When it comes to sleep, less is definitely more. The average adult needs just 6-7 hours’ sleep each night. If your current level is somewhere around 10, granted, any attempt to switch to 6-7 hours will leave you feeling groggy. But only at first. If you stuck at it for about 30 days, eventually it would become the norm and a healthy habit would be formed. And needing less sleep will become a habit that leaves you with way more energy.

That and with so much more time in your life. The real golden hours of any day happen between 5-8 am each morning. But how many people are still in bed or crashing around because they’ve slept in? Rising at that time each day could see you begin to exercise more, to plan and enjoy your day ahead and even clean the house in peace, if that’s what you enjoy doing.

And if you do manage to make this a healthy habit, here’s what waits for you: by climbing out of bed just ONE hour earlier each morning you will find spare time equivalent to one entire working week in your life, every month.

How to win the battle of the bedroom…

I’ll start with a nice little true story about someone who really is losing the bedroom battle. Here we go:

Could you do 6 .15 am?

It was a question I asked a potential client of mine who called up and asked for an emergency physio appointment with me because he was suffering with severe back pain. Believe it or not, the guy in this story said no to the appointment I offered. Why? Because he wouldn’t be out of bed at that time of the day! Now, think about that for a moment: a gentleman in so much pain that he was unlikely to be able to sleep couldn’t bring himself to get up and out of bed at a slightly earlier time than normal, despite the relief from back pain it would have given him for doing so.

It’s so illogical that the only way I could think of to rationalise it was that most people are not lucky enough to ever be taught much about the real way to get the best from their sleeping habits. And to get the best out of sleep often means doing less of it than you think you need.

I find lots of people are confused by the issue of tiredness and the role their bed has to play in decreasing it, or, as they think, even solving it. No, rarely is more sleep the answer to increasing energy levels or feeling less lethargic.

By spending more time in bed (more than 8 hours is already about one too many) you will feel LESS alert and more sluggish. So, with that in mind, here are 5 tips to try that will help you get up and out earlier on a morning, leaving you feeling fresher and more alert for the whole day.

Our top tips…

  1. If you’re going to bed anywhere around 10pm ish, aim not to eat after 7 pm. This will help you sleep easily, as your digestive system will be able to switch off too. Take note: quality is more important than quantity of sleep.
  2. When your alarm clock goes off, you’ve got to get up within minutes. Resist the temptation to hit the snooze button by leaving your alarm clock just out of reach so that you HAVE to get up.
  3. Have a plan waiting for you so that you know what you’re going to be doing as soon as you get up. Something like the first 20 minutes to get active, perhaps on a small trampoline or static exercise bike, 20 minutes to read a great book, and then perhaps the next 20 minutes to write and plan your day ahead (that little tip alone will make your day seem to last longer).
  4. Set your alarm clock at the same time every day. That means Saturday AND Sunday. Understand that it’s not what time you go to bed that decides how tired you will feel, or to be more accurate, the lethargy you will suffer. No, it’s what time you get up. To find more time in your life and to feel way healthier, you must never change the time on your alarm clock.
  5. Aim to be the fittest you can possibly be. It’s no coincidence that most people when they get into a great exercise routine, often daily, will report both needing and wanting less sleep.

I agree, getting up early is going to be tough at first. And expect it to take about 60 days for any change in habit or routine to feel normal, even for the early morning grogginess to go. But the prize waiting for you for creating a good habit like this (and rising for just one hour earlier every morning) is the equivalent of discovering an entire week’s worth of spare time in your life, every month. What could you achieve with that length of time?

 

P.S. Hopefully you have read our positive vaccination story, we were featured in both the Hartlepool Mail and Northern Echo recently, celebrating that our physio staff had received their first Covid-19 vaccinations. If you missed it, you can read our blog post here.

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If you’re in pain and would like to talk to us about getting some help, some specialist advice, or if you are looking for a diagnosis, remember we are always here to help you.

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Paul Gough
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