Everyone needs a good night sleep, Without a restful sleep, there is no way you can start making your mornings matter and better. Do you struggle to sleep well? Is something bothering you? Are you stressed? Is your hormone level affecting you?

In part 1, I shared some tips in getting your morning routine established. Now, getting back to tips number 1, 'Getting a good night sleep'. There is no magic. If you cannot get a good night sleep, all other tips to make your mornings matter will simply be out of the window. I struggled in having a good night sleep for many years, mostly due to work related stress. My sleeping difficulty got worse after I was diagnosed with cancer - probably because of the trauma, and anxiety. Troubel sleeping is also part of the side effects from my medication that put me on aritificial menopause. I received great advices from my medical team to get me into good sleeping habits in order to speed my recovery. I know how devastatnig it can be when night after night and you just cannot sleep. So, I  want to share with you the things that I have tried that might help you to improve your sleep, and ultimately to achieve better mornings, better quality of life. For me, it has been hard work but has totally changed my life! 

  1. Keep a regular sleeping routine: This is the number 1 rule. It is so tempting to have a lie in at the weekend, especially if you have just finished a tough week and are feeling exhausted. Try to push this temptation away. Try not to change more than +/-1 hour every day for your sleeping routine. Our body has a miraculous clock. By keeping this regular 'clock', your body will know when to shut down and when to wake up. If you are feeling sleepy during the day, fight the temptation of taking a nap. Try to rest but not to sleep. Sometimes a gentle walk will help you to stay awake. 
  2. Exercise regularly: This is so important and I assume you do if you are reading my blog. :-) Exercise generates good hormones to keep us relaxed. Feeling physically tired and not mentally will help us to sleep better. If you do not have an exercise routine, try at least 30 minutes of gentle exercises at least 2-3 times a week. The best is to be out every day.
  3. Complete your work out at least 3 hours before bedtime: There is no question that exercise energises us! We get energetic and even hyperactive at times! Give yourself time to slow down after a physical workout. For me personally, I need a bit more than 3 hours. So, I try not to exercise after 6 pm, especially if it is vigorous.  So, you can do the maths, the more you work out in the morning the better your sleep will get. :-)
  4. Have a hearty dinner: I am not saying you should stuff yourself to death. One tends to sleep poorly withe an empty. But you should be eating food that is filling and wholesome,  food that will last in your stomach for a long time. Pulses, wholemeal and starchy carbohydrates can be quite good. Also, try to complete your dinner 2-3 hours before heading to bed. You will need to experiment to get to know what is optimal for your stomach before bedtime.
  5. Switch everything off: What I mean here is our modern-day invention: mobile phones, tablets and in some cases even television. Read a book in the evening instead. I also started a habit of putting my phone away after dinner. The constant browsing, work emails, and chatting with people made my brain too active to have a good night sleep.
  6. Dim your lights after dinner: This is extremely difficult if you live in places like Oslo in the summer. The natural light does not switch off until midnight! Use curtains or blinds to dim the natural light.
  7. Avoid caffeine: This is highly personal. Some people are affected by it more than others, and some are not at all. I am very sensitive. It took me a while to figure this one out. Tea does not affect me as much but I have reacted badly with certain types of tea.  One general rule is to avoid caffeinated drinks after late afternoon. For me, I only have one caffeinated drink first thing in the morning. Even so, some coffee has kept me me awake from morning until the next day! So, you will need to do some testing on your body to find out what is best for you.
  8. Reduce alcohol intake: You might think alcohol will knock you out, but it is not a restful sleep that you will get. You will end up feeling sluggish in the morning. Drink moderately. The best would be to avoid it completely, especially on weekdays. I stopped drinking when I first started having chemotherapy. I figured that my liver was overloaded already. But I realised I did not really miss alcohol and my body was feeling much better. So I choose to give it up.  You will have to choose what is best for you. If having a relaxing Friday drink is important for you, do not give it up. Life is about having the tiny, little pleasures. It is all about moderation!
  9. Reduce fluid intake before bed time: One of my problems is that I forget to drink when I am working during the day. I then feel thirsty in the evening that I start drinking lots. What happens is that I keep waking up in the middle of the night, finding myself not falling back to sleep afterwards. Try to drink throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated. To remind yourself, keep a bottle of water nearby throughout the day.
  10. Early dinner: Meet your friends for early dinner. I love going out for dinner with my friends! Sadly, the better the company, the better the conversation, the more my brain gets active. Yet again, finding myself not being able to fall asleep. Meet your friends earlier. So, you can have an hour or so on your own to slow your mind before going to bed at your regular bedtime.
  11. Keep a diary: Especially if you are female.  Our menstrual cycle affects our sleep. Note down the days you didn't sleep well and see if it coincides with certain days in your menstrual cycle. If you can figure out when you are likely to have trouble sleeping in your cycle, be extra vigilant on those days to keep you mind relaxed and stick to good sleeping hygienes.
  12. Keep your room ventilated: Us, women are affected by our menstrual cycle.  Our body temperature can fluctuate throughout.  This can be worsened by certain days of our cycles or as you are approaching menopause. Avoid nightsweats and reduce your body temperature by ensuring your bedroom is well-ventilated.

Final words

The bottom line - you need to find something that works for you. For me, trying these methods one by one has eventually paid off.  I was often in this vicious cycle - I did not sleep well, I could not concentrate, I got more stressed, I slept even worse. I can say now that I no longer struggle to wake up in the morning. It requires patience. It will not happen overnight.  I really tried everything I could.  Eventually getting a good night sleep on a regular basis has allowed me to do my work and to exercise efficiently. I feel better than ever although I have to give up simple pleasures like coffee, late night parties and alcohol. Most mornings, I feel refreshed and energised. I simply feel GREAT! I still have my occasional bad nights. But one bad night once a while, is something I can cope with.

Being able to wake up early and refreshed is a huge bonus.  In return, I think working out in the morning on its own has also improved my sleep! It is a fantastic cycle. So people, give it a go! It might or might not work for you but agive it a try! We are all different and we must find a way that works for us, a way that makes us happy. For you, it might not be getting your morning run of endorphins! Perhaps sunset endorphins work better for you! Whichever ways, I wish you good luck. May you find a way that works for you. One that will make your life better and happier! Needless to say regular exercise is absolutely one of the key cornerstones. It reduces stress and give us good hormones! On this note, join us for our #ThisisForMe campaign to do something good for your body and mind! Sign up here and register your miles. 

P.S. I am not a healthcare professional. These are just my personal experiences. If you are struggling with insomnia, talk to your primary physician.

In part 3, I will share some of my staple, light breakfast recipes that you can prepare the night before, getting you ready for your early morning workouts.

Waking up refreshed is the best gift.
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Angela Kok

Seniorforsker fra Oslo



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