Nicky Park: How to be a morning person

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Wake up feeling full of beans.
Photo / Thinkstock
Wake up feeling full of beans. Photo / Thinkstock

I wasn't born a morning person, I'm becoming one. But the frosty Auckland mornings are putting up a good fight in my bid to rise and shine, full of beans, every day. It doesn't help that I've chosen this chilly time of year to shift my body clock forward a whole hour to try and squeeze in a session at the gym before work.

A very accurate survey has revealed 97 per cent of people (I know) find it much harder to get out of bed during the winter months. This makes sense - it's cold, it's dark, you're all cosy in the duvet cocoon.

Auckland based sleeping expert, Dr Alex Bartle, says you shouldn't need an alarm to wake you in the morning. If you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep then your body will wake naturally, even if it's before daybreak. Not getting enough hours is the most common cause of dozy mornings, he says.

So before worrying about waking, make sure you can get to bed and feel rested. The ideal bedroom is 16 to 18 degrees, quiet and free from too much stimulation like computers and televisions.

I like to burn lavender oil for an hour or so before hitting the hay, but Dr Bartle, director of the Sleep Well Clinics around NZ, says there's no proof that aromas are of any use. Make sure your belly is empty. Don't eat anything an hour or two before bed and try and stay away from caffeine all afternoon.

Then you've got to get your body into rhythm. The trick is keeping it up over the weekend. Dr Bartle says allowing an extra hour of sleep is fine, but any more and you'll be back to square one every Monday (I'll get to Monday-itis some other time).

While it would be wonderful to be free from alarms, I just can't trust my body clock, so I'll be sticking to the clock radio for my wake-up call.

I've written before about my Ayurvedic experience. Sure, this ancient Indian healing method isn't for everyone, but there are a few tips Dr Ajit gave me that help me feel fresh - even if it's a placebo effect, that's okay with me.

He says it's important to get out of bed within about five minutes of waking, put your feet on the floor, flick on the light, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue. Then wake your digestive system with a glass of warm water and the juice of half a lemon. There are stacks of health benefits in doing this - to begin with, you start the day hydrated and you flush out unwanted toxins. (I like to add a little ginger to my morning mix for it's super anti-inflammatory properties).

I like to have my gear ready to go so I don't waste time in the morning trying to find a second sock and being tempted back to bed. Getting out the door with minimal fuss is a great way for me to set the pace of my day, especially if it's kicking off with exercise, which, according to Dr Bartle, is a great way to wake up your body.

My morning person transition is still fragile, but I won't be letting winter win that battle.

Follow Nicky Park on Twitter.

Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning? What tips to you have for facing the day? Any morning routines?

Nicky Park

Editor of Life & Style.

Nicky lives to wine, dine and thrive. As Life & Style Editor at the New Zealand Herald online, she feels lucky she can call this work. Nicky crafted her writing skills as a cadet for an Australian news wire. Amongst the coverage of sport, news, finance and courts she found a favourite in features. A stint as a foreign correspondent sent this chipper Aussie across the Tasman, covering the big issues of the Pacific Islands. Every single day Nicky relishes the opportunities she has to mix and mingle with interesting people, feast on delicious food, visit new places and write all about it. Nicky wants everyone to make the most of their minutes, learn lots and live their best life.

Read more by Nicky Park

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