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What is the Sleep/Wake Cycle?

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Spouse Have a Different Sleep Routine? Here’s How to Deal

In an ideal world, you’d get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night that you need and wake up each morning feeling ready to conquer the day. Unfortunately, the average American logs just six and a half hours nightly, and that’s before accounting for bouts of insomnia or other sleep disturbances. The bottom line: Waking up feeling energetic may sound like an elusive goal. But it isn’t. Here are six ways to fake it until you make it.

  1. Skip the nightcap.

Sipping on a glass of wine might feel like a perfect way to wind down in the evening, but alcohol can actually hamper the quality of your sleep. While it may help you fall asleep faster, drinking can cause more middle-of-the-night awakenings, which reduce both deep, restorative sleep and total sleep.

2. Wake up at the same time every day.

Yes, that means on weekends, too (sorry). A dependable sleep routine, where you go to sleep and wake up at close to the same time every day makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, so you get the most out of your hours in the sack.

3. Don’t press snooze.

You know what’s not restorative sleep? The three minutes you might doze off after hitting snooze and before the alarm buzzes again. A better way to start the day: Set the alarm for the time you really need to wake up, and then commit to it.

4. Let the light shine in.

Turn on all the lights and open the blinds as soon as you rise. Light triggers your body to let up on the production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone that your body cranks out overnight. Your level of melatonin naturally falls in the early hours of the morning, but getting plenty of a.m. light can help the process. (That’s why it can feel harder to drag yourself out of bed on dark winter mornings.)

5. Get moving.

Whether it’s a trip to the gym or a walk around the block with your dog, physical activity gets your blood flowing, fights fatigue, and can even help to shift your sleep/wake cycle, so it may feel easier to get up the following morning. Plus, regular exercise breeds better sleep at night.

6. Eat a nutritious breakfast.

A spinach-almond-strawberry smoothie, oatmeal, a veggie omelet, and avocado toast (on wheat) are all excellent options. After all, a breakfast that’s rich in slow-burning, complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats can help you carpe diem.