Here Comes the Sun

A peaceful awakening can be just as important as getting your beauty rest

Here Comes the Sun
A peaceful awakening can be just as important as getting your beauty rest

You’ve cut down on caffeine, hit the hay by 11 every night and consistently catch 7–9 hours of Z’s (lucky you). So why in the name of Serta do you still feel exhausted in the morning? Chances are it’s not the way you’re sleeping that’s the problem, but the way you’re waking up. If you’re tired of diving headlong and half-awake into your day, you could be suffering from sleep inertia, otherwise known as that groggy feeling that’s hard to shake after being awoken abruptly. Learn more about sleep inertia here.

Wake peacefully with one of our favourite alarm clocks

Hammacher Schlemmer Peaceful Progression Wake-Up Clock, $50, takes its job very seriously, slowly stirring all your senses by emitting light, scent and soothing sounds over a thirty-minute period before finally setting off a buzzer at your preferred wake-up time.
Verilux Rise & Shine Natural Alarm Clock Bedside Lamp, $150. Choose from eight digitally mastered recordings of relaxing nature sounds, from birds to breeze, which will help reduce stress and elevate your mood as the lamp brightens to signal the start of your day. It even comes with a pillow speaker so you can roll out without waking your bed buddy.
Soleil Sun Alarm, $90. Count on this dawn simulator to get your serotonin levels pumping and face the day feeling energized and refreshed.
BioBrite Digital SunRise Clock, $120, wakes you the way nature intended by filling your room with low-intensity light 15–90 minutes before you’re up and at ’em.
If the morning sun makes you want to pull the covers over your head, make like a monk and say “serenity now” instead. The Now & Zen Digital Zen Alarm Clock, $100, helps you harness your chi with long-resonating acoustic chimes set in a stylish solid hardwood case.
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When you are pulled suddenly out of a deep slumber (say, by a blaring alarm), the sudden jolt stimulates your body’s fight-of-flight response, releasing a dose of adrenaline that can make a triple-shot espresso seem weak by comparison. Yes, these rude awakenings make for an awful way to start the day, but they can also impact how you act and feel for hours to come. According to a study conducted at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the immediate effects of sleep inertia can be as bad or worse than being drunk. The study found that in a dazed-and-confused state, your short-term memory, counting skills and analytic abilities all falter, and while the more serious impairments generally taper off within minutes, the effects can often linger for up to two hours.

“Some days you have [sleep inertia] and feel bad all day. The days that you do not have it, you feel like you’re full of energy and can conquer the world,” says Glen Sullivan, deputy director of the Atlantic Health Sciences Sleep Centre in New Brunswick. “There is just no way of escaping the basic point that to feel good you need enough good-quality sleep, but if you wake up to a clanging alarm clock at the wrong time, you will have that feeling of not fully waking up.”

So can you sensibly toss your clock radio out the window? Although today they can be found at practically every bedside, audio-based awakening devices actually conflict with our biological needs. People were programmed to rise with the sun, whose rays signal the brain to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Of course, you can’t always rely on natural daylight and your internal clock to get you up in time, but you can pick up a progressive alarm clock, which claims to reduce sleep inertia by waking you up gently and gradually. By introducing light and other factors such as sound and smell before jump-starting your day, “you are going to wake up better because you are in a more fragmented lighter sleep stage, one that is closer to being awake,” says Sullivan.

For more on wellness, click on previous stories below.
A.M. Routine A simple regimen to start your morning right