You’ve probably heard that a good night’s sleep starts in the morning, and sleep experts agree with this statement wholeheartedly. This is caused by our circadian rhythm, or our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which is a 24-hour process.
“Circadian rhythms, your internal biological clock, operate on a roughly 24-hour cycle and determine when you feel awake or sleepy, largely influenced by light exposure,” explains Dr. Chester Wu, board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist. . “Morning health behaviors reinforce strong circadian rhythms, increasing alertness during the day and sleepiness at night.”
On the contrary, according to Wu, irregular sleep patterns, excessive exposure to night light, and a sedentary lifestyle can disrupt the rhythm and balance of sleep pressure, causing sleep problems.
Considering they’ve dedicated their careers to helping people sleep better, it’s safe to say that sleep doctors’ morning routines are ones we’d like to emulate. So, what do sleep experts avoid doing in the morning to ensure they get a good night’s sleep?
They never lie down in bed after the alarm goes off.
In perhaps the most unacceptable (but definitely a smart move) ever, sleep doctors don’t lie in bed, scroll through their phones for 15 minutes before dragging themselves out of bed. “I try not to stay in bed too long because I find it makes me feel more lazy or groggy,” Wu said.
Chelsie Rohrscheib, a neurologist and sleep expert, doesn’t do this either. “I never stay in bed and do activities that are not related to sleep and intimacy. “This means that when I wake up, I immediately get out of bed and go somewhere else in my house,” he said. “This helps maintain my brain’s association that the bedroom is simply a place to rest, which promotes high-quality sleep.”
“I never stay in my bedroom dark,” adds Dr. Chris Winter, neurologist and sleep health expert. “It is very important to gain enlightenment. Light effectively turns off melatonin production in your brain and tells your body that the day has begun.”
While not lying in bed was the most popular tip among the sleep experts we consulted, Carleara Weiss, a sleep specialist and research assistant professor at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, gave a slightly different answer: For her, in addition to waking up as soon as he woke up, he made sure not to sleep.
The reason has to do with circadian rhythms, says Weiss. “A regular wake time helps the biological clock regulate physiological functions, not just sleep. Sleeping in on weekends causes social jet lag and leads to difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability and headaches.”
Dr. Raj Dasgupta – a doctor who is quadruple board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine – also worries about not sleeping.
“While snoozing occasionally won’t have a long-term impact on your overall sleep quality, it can impact your ability to fall asleep at night,” she says. “Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, is critical to ensuring you get a quality night’s sleep.”
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Staying in bed after the alarm goes off does more harm than good.
What does a sleep doctor do in the morning?
We know what they don’t do in the morning. So what does a sleep doctor do? One thing to do consistently is make sure they are exposed to light in the morning.
“One of the first things I do in the morning, usually within 30 minutes of waking up, is expose myself to natural sunlight by going outside or sitting near a window,” says Rohrscheib. “Light during the day is very important for keeping our circadian rhythm regular. Research has shown that lack of sun exposure can reduce the quality of your sleep, cause insomnia, and negatively impact mood.”
Dasgupta also makes sure to get sun exposure in the morning. “Getting exposure to sunlight in the morning after waking up can increase alertness and energy during the day, thereby improving the quality of sleep at night,” he said.
Another big tip that emerged? Exercise. “Getting active quickly is a great way to signal your brain that the day has started,” says Winter. “The training doesn’t have to be too intense. I start my days off by walking my dog every day or walking with my wife to work.”
Interestingly, another thing Winter always does is make his bed. “This is not only powerful symbolically, but is also a good deterrent for individuals who may want to go back to sleep during the day and feel that napping may negatively impact their sleep the following night,” he said.
As far as we’re concerned, the fact that sleep doctors haven’t said anything about quitting coffee is a huge win. As long as we can drink coffee, we don’t mind getting out of bed before checking email and scrolling through Instagram.