Sleep is the #1 point of interest to most people when it comes to health and wellness certainly is in my tribe. However, you should be interested in the best way to wake up just as much as you should be interested in getting enough sleep.
You know that getting a great night of sleep can do wonders for you and your body, but did you know that how you wake up from that great night of sleep is as important as the duration and quality of your sleep?
Waking up to the sound of an alarm buzzing in your ear has negative health effects. Things that we fear, that get us startled or worse create stress in us activate the release of a hormone called “Cortisol” and that’s where it all goes down!
Being jolted by an alarm clock isn’t the best way to wake up. Why? I’m going to explain that in a bit, but let’s start first with the word “cortisol”. Cortisol is a hormone, which is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. So when your body perceives stress in any way shape or form, it produces cortisol.
Cortisol is then circulated in your bloodstream to carry the message of ‘stress’ to all the organs and parts of your body. Once the message is received in each organ, every body part has a specific action that it performs to respond to stress, such as: stopping digestion, heartbeat increases, etc. It’s important to note that the body doesn’t differentiate between stressors.
Whether you are being chased by a murderer, or you are startled by a “loud buzz” alarm ringing at 6 am to wake you up, it’s all the same to your body.
It seems we were never meant to be woken abruptly, in darkness, by loud sudden buzzing, beeping and/or siren-type noises. Rather, our ancestors woke naturally and gently, each day with the rising of the sun. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan, participants who were suddenly forced awake had higher blood pressure and heart rate than those allowed to wake up on their own time.
Why? Because of the cortisol pumped into your body to respond to the “stress” of the buzzing alarm.
Alarms can also add to your overall stress levels. The sudden noise triggers the body’s protective ‘fight or flight’ response, pumping up your adrenaline levels. While this might be useful to get you to work on time, if this activated state persists over days, weeks and months, it can lead to chronic stress.
Natural Awakening: The Best Way to Wake Up
Waking up naturally is far gentler on the body. Teach yourself to wake up on time by priming your body’s internal clock – stick to a regular bedtime routine and train yourself to wake at a certain time. Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you’ll eventually dig your way out of fatigue and arrive at the sleep schedule that’s ideal for you.
What can we do to avoid having to use an alarm?
The solution is in normalizing your sleep pattern to be consistent daily and also have it as close as possible to what your body is made for. Up to about 100 years ago, we didn’t have electricity, thus no light bulb, TV or internet for night time entertainment. So, naturally, we went to bed early simply by lack of having anything to do or boredom.
We also woke up with the sun since we had no alarm and honestly by that time we had been asleep for a while. This is called the “Circadian cycle” which is demonstrated in labs by the pattern into which our hormones are naturally released in our body, based on the moon and sun cycle, and one of those hormones is cortisol. We naturally get an increase in cortisol early in the morning and we naturally get a decrease in cortisol at night.
My #1 recommendation to you and all my clients, is to regulate your sleep pattern as close as possible to 10-6 am daily, including weekends. Doing this 7 days a week is critical as we attempt to regulate our body and hormones. The body doesn’t make a special adjustment for Friday versus Monday- our body is a very simple machine! This may take 3-6 months to for you to find your groove, but you will start waking up naturally once your body has had enough sleep. The key is to allow 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Personally, I have been diligently working on my sleep pattern since last year as a solution to my adrenal fatigue symptoms. My sleep pattern now looks like this: 10:30 pm sleep time and 6 am wake-up time. I naturally wake up 5:55 and 6:05 am every single morning without any alarm.
My goal was to first sleep 7 hours and to be able to wake up naturally to reduce the cortisol output in my body. Over a period of 3-4 month, it all fell into place and it’s now my normal sleep pattern. Because I know the best way to wake up and I abide by it, my mornings are the most blissful part of my day now! I wake rested, relaxed and grateful.
Question: What does your sleep pattern look like? Share your struggles and victories to enhance your sleep with me.