Not a big fan of waking up early? Well, trust us, we can all relate. But, unless you’re a morning person and enjoy the feel of the sun shining on your face and birds chirping in your ears, you probably find getting out of bed as challenging as the rest of us. We understand some mornings can be slightly more difficult than others. One moment you may be dozing off, the next, you have to get up and work as if you were semi-paralyzed for eight straight hours. And sometimes, you may just find yourself getting grumpy for no particular reason. If you are going through any of these things, know that it is natural. But can you make this better? Surely.
To wake up easily and in the best possible way, we need to understand how the brain activates from the state of consciousness to awareness so quickly. Well, the answers are not concrete – scientists have been perplexed by this question for centuries and still are.
While scientists don’t have the full answer yet, they have solved some parts of the puzzle. Read along to learn about the factors that control how your body wakes up every morning.
How Does Our Body Naturally Wake Up?
Your body is most efficient when there is a schedule to follow. If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, your body will get accustomed to that behavior. Here are a few more pointers that will help you understand how your body naturally wakes itself up:
- Neurotransmitters: At least eleven neurotransmitters and hormones—and probably more—play crucial roles in the sleep-wake cycle. Many “wake-promoting” chemicals work together to orchestrate the waking-up process of your body. These include adrenocorticotropic hormone, corticotropin-releasing factor, and Orexin/Hypocretin. The first two chemicals are a part of a physiological gear in your body that helps you wake up and get ready for the day ahead; however, this axis is also more frequently linked to your stress reaction.
- Circadian Rhythm: Our circadian rhythms are why we wake up almost at the same time every morning. Often known as our body clock, it controls our heart rate, hormones, body temperature, and sleep-wake cycle. Within a 24-hour cycle, these variables enable the body to wake up normally and go to sleep at the right moment. Our bodies follow this basic schedule created by these rhythms, which, if you lead a routine life, causes you to wake up at the same time every day.
Light exposure during the day prompts the circadian clock to transmit signals that promote alertness within your body, which keeps you awake and active. The release of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep, increases as night falls. The master clock continues to send signals that aid in keeping us sleeping throughout the night.
Our circadian rhythm works because of brain nuclei or SCN, the suprachiasmatic nucleus. SCN is a brain region in the hypothalamus, and regulates our body’s internal clock. Dark and light signals can affect the SCN. Our eyes’ optic nerve detects morning light, and the SCN subsequently leads to the production of cortisol and other endocrine substances to assist in waking you up.
- RAS Switch: The RAS, also known as the reticular activating system, is one of the main brain systems that wakes you up. The RAS is a region of the brain that is situated right above the spinal column. It can recognize critical information and produce neurochemicals that alert various brain regions. You remain awake all day long as a result of it. The RAS detects a signal from your body if you need to use the restroom in the wee hours of the night and turns a switch to awaken your brain, much like a light switch.
- Balance of Ions: According to a study, our sleep-wake cycle appears to be influenced by the amount and distribution of ions in the CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid.) In fact, the researchers discovered that they could control the sleep-wake phase of mice without neurotransmitters by adjusting the quantities of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and proton ions in the fluid. The levels of the ion potassium, in particular, seem to be particularly important during sleep-wake transitions, as their levels change drastically.
- Sleep/wake homeostasis: While the circadian clock controls sleep timing, the homeostatic system controls the amount of sleep. The longer you are up, the more your body feels the urge to sleep due to sleep/wake homeostasis. Theoretically, if this process alone were in charge of regulating your sleep/wake cycles, you would feel most energetic in the morning, and at the end of the day, you would be exhausted and eager to sleep.
Habits to Develop to Wake Up Fresh
You are not alone if you dread mornings just by thinking about them. While some people might be able to get out of bed and get to work immediately, the majority of us find it difficult. But can we change it? Yes! Here are some of the most effective wake-up techniques supported by science:
- Without Hitting Snooze: Your entire system goes into a perplexing whirl when you press the snooze button and go back to sleep. And if you keep at it, your body will eventually become confused about sleep and wake times. But if you don’t snooze, your body will be able to identify you’ve started the day by avoiding those all-too-tempting extra five or ten minutes, and you’ll wake up feeling more rested and alert.
- Avoid Screens After Waking up: Numerous studies have connected increased stress levels to our continual attention to our phones, including receiving notifications and checking email. So, when we first get out of bed, bombarding our brains with all this data might make us feel awful. Instead, reading first thing in the morning is a great method to give your brain a sense of accomplishment and get on with your day.
- Soak in Sunlight: Early morning exposure to sunlight aids in letting the body know that the day has officially begun. In fact, because sunlight resets your circadian rhythm and helps you transition into morningness, researchers found that subjecting people to a projected version of morning sunlight helps them feel more energetic and less sleepy overall.
- Drink Water Right After Waking Up: Drink at least one tall glass of water, and if you can handle it, try to drink more. There are numerous advantages to drinking water first thing in the morning, so doing this will help you start your day off in a healthy way. Without water, our bodies won’t function optimally, our minds won’t be clear, and our body’s internal functions won’t be performing to their maximum potential.
- Move Your Body: Studies have shown that regular exercise can enhance memory and focus, enhancing mental clarity and reducing the chance of brain fog eventually in the day. You can reap the health benefits of exercise, such as improved blood flow to the brain and lower levels of the body’s natural stress hormones, without setting your alarm for an unreasonably early time by establishing a smaller target.
Tips to Have a Good Night’s Sleep
All that said, here’s how you can sleep better every night:
- Listen to Some Relaxing Music: Listening to relaxing music before bed enhances sleep quality in adults, and soothing music improves sleep quality far more than rhythmic music. Relaxing music may help sleep by reducing your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.
- Choose the Correct Mattress: A faulty mattress can make you uncomfortable, making falling asleep more difficult. Poor sleep quality, in turn, impacts your physical and mental health. When you sleep on an overly soft mattress, you sink deeper into it, causing your spine to bend out of position and contributing to back pain. See, there is a scientific reason behind it; now, how soon are you switching?
- Invest In Comfy Nightwear: You must be comfortable before bed to get a good night’s sleep. Being relaxed in your sleep will allow you to fall asleep fast and stay asleep for an extended period. You can find a great pair of pajamas made of the appropriate material for your skin.
- Get Yourself an Anti-Snoring Aid: Contact a doctor if you receive at least seven hours of sleep per night but are still exhausted. It could be that an underlying health issue or a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea could be keeping you from sleeping peacefully. If your partner is not letting you sleep, try quick, science-backed solutions like Smart Nora. It is a device that you attach to their pillow. It would sense the snoring sound and reposition the pillow, so they can breathe easily and not snore.
Here’s to Waking Up To Your Best Self!
A peaceful evening also helps you relax and have a better sleep. Avoid stressors such as reading emails and having difficult conversations with families at least an hour before bed. You can also prepare for sleep by meditating, stretching, taking a warm shower, or reading a book in a dimly lit area.
But, if you still happen to wake up in a grumpy mood on some mornings, that’s completely fine. You don’t need to always be on your best behavior; sometimes, an off or rest day is as important as a productive one.