LPT: How to feel well-rested in the morning.
From my own experience, it's all about giving yourself the right habits:
- Stop drinking caffeine. Cut it out entirely. Take aspirin for the couple days of headaches. Then when you need it once a month, it will actually be a boost instead of "reset to not drowsy". Even then, take it (small quantities: tea not soda) in the morning, never in the evening (it has a half life of around 5 hours).
- Stop making up lost sleep on the weekends, by getting more sleep on the weekdays. Make a schedule and stick to it. Do you need 8 hours of sleep to function? Do you take an hour to fall asleep? Do you need to be up at 7AM? Aim to go to bed at 10PM, every single night of the week. Are you an insomniac who needs 2 hours to fall asleep but only 4 hours of actual sleep to function? Fine! Plan for six (but seriously consider meditation classes for while you're waiting to fall asleep). You can adjust this as you go but force yourself to lie in bed at that time for a couple weeks until you're used to it. If your schedule won't allow this much time set aside for sleep, re-evaluate your life (I used to be an MMORPG addict and now regularly go weeks without playing a game).
- Stop snoozing / setting multiple alarms. Snooze sleep is not worthy sleep. Set your alarm for the last possible time you can get up (I don't mean like "not even time to shower" but the last possible time to do your entire morning routine with a little urgency). Then train yourself to get up as soon as it goes off.
- Regular exercise (any kind of exertion; walking a few miles a day totally counts) is really important, you're not going to sleep well after an all-day movie/gaming marathon.
- Light can be more powerful (but shorter lasting) at keeping you awake than caffeine. In the morning get that awakeness you lost giving up caffeine by opening the windows and letting the sun shine in. But you also need to give yourself a sense when it's getting dark so your body can wind down. Dimmers are cheap and easy to install. Make sure your alarm clock isn't a beacon of light. Put sticky notes over it if you have to dim it, you shouldn't be able to read it well in daytime. I use a projection clock because I sleep with my head facing up and I don't have to move (or mentally wake up) much to read the time from the ceiling at night (it's unreadable with the bedroom light on).
- Oh it's an hour before bed-time and it takes 45 to 90 minutes to play a round of a video game? NO. BAD. Even at 45 minutes that's a lot of light in your face right before bed. Honestly you're better off spending that last hour with some human contact (in a low light area) or (at least for me with some self control) on reddit with the enhancement suite's dark background on.
- When you do wake up in the middle of the night, keep it simple so you don't "rev up" your brain to full awakeness. A bathroom nightlight is good, depending on your vision you may need to tape it darker.
- The bed is for sleeping and sex, nothing else. Pull the reading light and TV out of the bedroom. For that matter, I try to get my sex done in the mornings or day time so she's not pining for it when I'm trying to sleep. Back to the light thing, I bought blackout curtains and keep mine as dark as possible.
- Dunno about diet though I generally don't worry about mine. Do you wake up hungry and then can't fall back asleep? Eat more non-sugary foods before bed (okay maybe not right before bed but soon enough). Capping the night with a small sugary food can be a digestive aid, but I mean like one cookie.
- I found myself futily waking up many nights because I was too warm. I then read somewhere that your body temperature naturally goes up at a certain point in your sleep. I bought a programmable thermostat for my central A/C in the summer (apologies if you don't have this option), and set it to go down two degrees at approximately 2.5 hours before I planned on waking up. It makes a huge difference.
- Establish boundaries with your bed-mates. If they are disruptive, you can tell pets what to do by locking them out. Humans require a little more negotiation. Let your partner know when you are getting ready for bed "I'm brushing my teeth now" and encourage them to get their pajamas out of the bedroom because you're going to sleep soon and don't want them to have to turn on the light. Over time if you're consistent, your partner will probably end up in bed 5 minutes after you most nights anyway. Noisy neighbors? Get a pack of earplugs and learn how to properly insert them.
- Don't ever use any kind of drug to help yourself sleep. Count your alcoholic drinks and switch to water at the appropriate amount of time before your planned bed time. Think of it like planning to have your hangover as you're falling asleep, and then it never comes. "Passed out" is never the same as "asleep".
Do most of this and you'll find yourself calmly waking up just before your alarm, consistently. It's what works for me, I'm not trying to be demanding I just try to consider them absolute rules to myself. They switched me from a "night person" to a "morning person".