A healthy bedtime routine is essential to a good night’s sleep. Before we climb into bed each night, we must prepare for sleep both mentally and physically. Performing breathing exercises can help reduce stress, and putting away our cell phones can improve melatonin production, both of which can result in better quality rest. Without these small, yet meaningful steps, we are more likely to miss out on precious hours of sleep due to racing thoughts, muscle tension, and anxiety.
However, sleep experts also note that the way we wake up is just as vital to our wellbeing as the way we prepare for sleep. Many of us may not give much thought to what wakes us up, but we should. Our wake up method can affect how groggy we feel in the morning and how focused we are throughout the day.
To better understand the impact alarm clocks have on our mental and physical health, eachnight surveyed over 1,000 Americans. The survey takes a look at the effects each wake-up method had on productivity, mood, healthy habits, and how rested participants felt throughout the day. Read on to discover more about the best way to wake up.
What is the best way to wake up? This survey looked at the effects each wake-up method had on productivity, mood, healthy habits, and how rested participants felt throughout the day.
How Americans Are Waking Up
Eachnight’s survey reveals that half of their participants regularly use a phone alarm to wake up. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that 54 percent of those using an alarm were millennials, and only 28 percent were baby boomers. 1 in 5 employees regularly wake up without an alarm, and 39 percent of those individuals were baby boomers while only 16 were millennials.
These stats suggest that, while it may be difficult to wake up without an alarm, it is something that we may become more accustomed to with age. Older generations seem to be more confident in their bodies’ natural ability to wake up at the right time. Millennials, on the other hand, were more reluctant and preferred to rely on technology for their wake up call. In fact, studies show that the elderly are more prone to regular sleep-wake patterns and showed very little deviation from night to night. Whether this is due to physical changes that occur as we age or differences in lifestyle is still unclear.
Waking up Naturally vs. With an Alarm
The responses to eachnight’s survey suggest that there may be a benefit to waking up naturally. Participants who were currently employed were 10 percent more likely to feel well-rested throughout the day. Plus, it took those who regularly use an alarm an average of 28 minutes to feel fully awake each morning. This is compared to an average of 22 minutes that it took for those who woke up naturally.
Participants who relied on sleep-tracking devices needed the same amount of time to feel fully awake as those who work up naturally, about 22 minutes. Sleep tracking apps monitor your sleep cycles throughout the night. By doing so, these devices can wake users up during the lightest stages of sleep—stages 1 and 2. When waking up from one of these lighter stages, as opposed to deep sleep (stage 3) or REM sleep, we are less likely to feel tired and irritable. Eachnight’s findings suggest that when we can’t wake up on our own, a sleep tracking device that mimics a more natural wake up may be the next best thing.
Improved Mood and Behavior
In addition to feeling more rested, those who naturally woke up were also more likely to feel less rushed and maintain healthy habits. 67 percent of natural risers noted that they did not feel rushed in the morning, and 64 percent were able to eat a healthy breakfast before leaving the house. When compared to those who relied on an alarm, only 49 percent didn’t feel rushed, and 48 percent had time for breakfast.
The motivation to exercise also seems to be affected by how we wake up. Natural risers were more likely to workout 3 to 4 times a week than those using an alarm. This is an alarming statistic when we consider how vital exercise is to our health and our ability to get proper rest. Evidence suggests that regular physical exercise increases sleep deep. Since deep sleep (stage 3) is the most restorative, exercise naturally improves muscle recovery, mood, and memory.
In terms of work performance and productivity, eachnight found that those who woke up naturally reported being late to work an average of 12 days within the past year. Those using an alarm were late an average of 22 days, while those who placed their alarm away from the bed were late an average of 26 days. When we consider the likelihood of hitting snooze on the alarm to get a few more minutes of sleep, this is not surprising. The work habits and attitudes of natural risers were also very different. 80 percent of those who woke up unforced were more motivated to work each day. This is compared to only 67 percent of alarm users. Additionally, those who needed an alarm were more likely to feel unfocused at work or maintain a clear head throughout the day.
Ultimately, this data suggests that natural risers are getting adequate sleep, making it easier for them to wake up. These sleepers have had enough sleep to prepare for the day, and their bodies are letting them know it is time to wake up. On the other hand, those who need an alarm are likely not getting adequate rest to face the day with a clear, focused mind.
When we consider that natural risers are more rested, it makes sense that their work performance and productivity would be better than those who aren’t. Our cognitive abilities drastically decrease when we don’t get enough sleep. The ability to focus, commit information to memory, perform simple tasks, and remain motivated all decline when the mind and body have not experienced adequate time in each of the four sleep stages.
If we maintain a consistent sleep schedule that is in tune with natural circadian rhythms, we will be more likely to wake up naturally and experience the benefits of adequate sleep.
Although it can be difficult to wake up without the use of an alarm clock, it can be done by paying attention to our natural circadian rhythms. This rhythm is linked to the sun’s rise and set and determines the times of day we feel alert versus tired. If we maintain a consistent sleep schedule that is in tune with this cycle, we will be more likely to wake up naturally and experience the benefits of adequate sleep.
How well are you sleeping and waking up?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.
“PIN & SHARE”