Are you finding yourself getting more and more stressed as days go by, with no apparent reason for it? Are you grumpy, finding it hard to get up in the mornings (you know, those slices of time between midnight and midday)? Generally speaking, this is me. Before, oh, 2 days ago. When I started sleeping better - going to bed early, and getting up early.

Why on earth would you want to do that? Well, other than feeling amazingly refreshed, less stressed and less grumpy after a good night’s sleep, you also have another - possibly unexpected - side effect: You have more time in the day.

More time in the day, you say? Yes, more time in the day I say! It might seem like a trick, but if you’re getting up early, you’re becoming more alert earlier, and thus you are able to fit much more into the day than if you wake up late, feeling groggy and grumpy and that murder might be on your TODO list for the morning.

Listen to your body

Listening to your body is really important, and can be applied to all parts of life (except tasting exotic foods, most exercising and learning to dance). Your body will tell you when it’s tired, and if it doesn’t, that tells you something else: You haven’t done enought with your day, you’re not exhausted enough! Your brain may also tell you when it’s tired, by making your eyelids heavy/droopy, making you forget obvious things/words, and other such things. If you’re not feeling on top of your game, you might have a case of the tireds.

And don’t just listen to your body, follow up on it! You can’t just think, “oh hey, my body is feeling really tired, time to reenact Singing In The Rain”, go to bed and sleep!

Get to sleep early

This is actually the part where I’m failing, but trying to improve upon most. Because I know, with certainty, that if I can get to sleep early, I will wake up early. Get off your computer. Turn off your TV. Disconnect. Put down that cellphone! You want to do all of these things at least an hour before bed.

There’s this amazing thing about blue light, I only know it because somebody even more geeky than me told me about it: Blue light tells your brain to stay awake. Blue light is the difference between yellow light and white light. The light we get from the sun in the day time is white light, composed of all colours: Red, Green and Blue (and everything in between). In comparison, the light we’ve traditionally gotten from incandescent light bulbs has been yellow light - no blue in sight (well, some, but not as much). Fluorescents also produce white light.

Just like all fluorescent bulbs and the sun, The light given off by your cellphone, your TV, your computer, and anything else with a colour display, is white light. “Hah!”, you say, “But they’re also giving off other colours as well!” - yes, but that’s completely missing the point. Many colours use blue as a component, and will activate the blue cone sensors in your eyes to a certain degree, telling your brain to stay awake. Or, don’t sleep. This is why it’s hard to get to sleep immediately after using your computer in the evening, or watching a movie. Other than, you know, your brain still trying to analyse what the hell it was just subjected to.

You can actually get applications for computers to gradually decrease the amount of blue light emitted from the screen over a certain time period, such as f.lux. But it’s still a good idea to disconnect at least an hour before bed. Perhaps read a book, or - heaven forbid - talk to somebody.

Wake up early

This one is reeeeally fun. You’re going to love this. Or more, I’m going to love thinking about how much you hate or dread this.

I’m reasonably lucky. I have a room with windows facing east. I just leave the curtains open and BAM, waking up to the sun, baby! I don’t even need an alarm clock. That and there’s probably a cat jumping around on my bed before I wake up. So if you find yourself in a similar situation as I am, and don’t mind keeping your windows open (Oh no! They might see me with no top and just underpants! Pfft.), then you might want to give this a try.

If you don’t have this. then set an alarm to wake you up. Now, one think that’s interesting about alarm clocks, for me, is my usual behaviour around them. If I want to wake up at 6:30, and set an alarm for 6:30, I’ll probably get out of bed at 7:30. Solution? Set alarm clock for 5:30. (Seriously, this is what I did in high school). This is also applicable to any scheduling - make room for an extra hour, or however much time you can afford, for unforeseen issues.

But what is really important about alarms is… don’t fall back to sleep after you’ve turned off your alarm! When you wake up the second time, you will wake up groggy, grumpy and perhaps a little murderous. Save yourself the trouble of hiding a body. Get up the first time.

TL;DR

  • Get to sleep early.
    • Listen to your body.
    • “Disconnect” about an hour before bed.
  • Wake up early.
    • Keep east-facing curtains open.
    • Or use an alarm.
    • Get up after the first time you’ve awoken.