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Wake Up Naturally to a More Energized Day

Small Changes, Real BIG Energy
  -- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer
7:00 a.m.: An infuriating alarm jolts you awake.
7:30 a.m.: After three snooze delays you finally turn it off and force yourself to jump out of bed.
8:15 a.m.: Two cups of coffee later, you're stuck in maddening morning traffic.
2:30 p.m.: You practically fall asleep at your desk.

"I got eight hours of sleep last night," you think hazily. "Why am I still tired?"

The answer may lie in your morning routine. Afternoon energy levels can be predicted by what you do when you first get up. A typical frantic start to the day can wake you up temporarily but leave you dragging later on. Low energy saps creativity, spontaneity, concentration and motivation. Not to mention the irritability and stress that it causes.

So why does the morning rush let you down? According to researchers at Duke University Medical Center, both sudden activity and caffeine kick-up your blood pressure and stress hormones, giving you a quick feeling of alertness and energy. But these adrenaline-producing tactics are short-lived. Once the mayhem is over, it's crash time.

It's much better to start the day by letting your body catch up to sleep-cycle cues that it collects. By coming out of "sleep" mode more naturally, you help your body get off to a more relaxing start to a more energized day.<pagebreak>

Here are some ideas for how to set your body clock to "awake" without the shock of sudden activity that rattles the stress system: 
  1. Wake up to music rather than an alarm.
  2. Don't get up right away. While breathing deeply, loosen up and stretch your limbs out, from your fingers to your toes. Pretend you're a cat waking up from a nap.
  3. Think of the most positive thing you'll be doing that day.
  4. Get out of bed slowly. Ease into it.
  5. Turn on more and more lights as you go through your routine, until every light you see is on.
  6. If weather permits, step outside for a minute. Sunshine is one of the strongest ways to tell your body to wake up.
  7. Do 3-5 minutes of easy activity. Emphasis on easy.
  8. Eat breakfast! Foods low in fat and high in protein, fiber and carbs provide energy that lasts a long time. Try yogurt, fruit, whole wheat breads, and skim milk.
A key is not to oversleep or use the snooze button. It may be tough at first, but getting up at the same time every morning makes it easier to set a sleep cycle that won't make you feel tired in the middle of the day. 

P.S. When you're stuck in traffic, try listening to some classical music or jazz to calm you.