Being healthy doesn’t have to be hard work. Sure, getting up half an hour early to go for a run every morning sounds virtually impossible to some people, but there are some easy wins that will make it as regular as clockwork.
1. Avoid Caffeine after 3pm
Caffeine has a half-life (the time it takes your body to eliminate half the caffeine) of about 5-6 hours. A Costa visit after 3pm will costa you a lot of sleep.
Caffeine works by mimicking hormones in your brain, increasing dopamine and making you more restless and slowing (but not stopping) the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Drinking caffeine doesn’t necessarily make you less sleepy, it merely slows the rate at which you will fall asleep while stimulating the nervous system. It’s no wonder that studies have shown drinking caffeine causes a decrease in sleep quality and sleep quantity.
The next time you’re feeling tired in the evening and find yourself reaching for the caffeine, try some light cardiovascular work instead. Then have an early night. Your caffeine addiction could be making you more tired every day.
2. Leave the snooze button well alone
It’s often hard to wake up as your body is unnaturally pulled from a deep part of sleep by the obnoxious shrieking of your bedside alarm clock.
When we wake up naturally, blood Cortisol levels have risen gradually as dawn approaches, which is meant as your body’s natural caffeine shot. Getting pulled from a deep sleep means your body doesn’t get the chance to do this.This can leave you feeling very fatigued and disorientated.
The temptation is to hit snooze to get an extra bit of sleep, however this can lead to your body falling into a deep sleep once again and you actually end up feeling worse than when you started.
This short YouTube video from ASAP Science does a great job explaining the problem:
With practice, you can get your body waking up at the right time without the need of an alarm clock, especially if you stick to the first rule. I’ve had some great success with an app called Sleep Cycle, which monitors your sleep and wakes you up when it thinks you are in a lighter state of sleep (although it only works if you sleep alone).
3. Have a set bed time
In today’s society, a 9 to 5 is almost a thing of the past. We are often required to work longer hours and varying shift patterns. However, most people can still get to bed a little bit earlier to ensure they are a little less tired (read: still half asleep) in the morning.
Even ‘catching up’ to lost sleep over the weekend is not as good as you think. While it you may feel less tired after your weekend sleep overdose, in the long term, constant sleep deprivation throughout the week it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, insulin imbalances and other hormone imbalances. And weight gain.
Try to have a set bed time where you get 8 hours every night, even if it means waking up at 7 am on a weekend.