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Begin the Day Taking Care of YOU. Here are 4 Tips for a Peaceful Morning Wake-up
Developed by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Ed.D. and Lynn Jessen M.A.
Pockets of Predictability--Blog 1 of 10
If the screech of your alarm, or your children woke you this morning you began your day with a jolt to your arousal system. Even before you got out of bed, you were catapulted into the red zone of tense arousal, prepared to fight, or flee. Imagine instead waking peacefully on your own, feeling rested and ready to begin the day. Impossible? Maybe not. By taking 4 simple steps, the good mornings can begin to outnumber the bad ones.
1. Establish a consistent wake time:
We know you are thinking, “I NEED EVERY MOMENT of SLEEP, no way can I get up at the same time every day!” That is why Lynn and I are going to promise you that a consistent morning wake time will ultimately get you MORE sleep.
A stable wake time sets the body clock, training the brain when to be alert and when to sleep. An erratic schedule, sometimes waking at 6:00 AM, the next day at 7:00 or 8:00 AM disrupts that internal body clock also known as our circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to wake, AND to fall asleep at night.
Morning wake time is your cornerstone. It keeps your body clock functioning on-time and serves as the foundation for the rest of the day’s routine. Without a consistent wake time, you have no way of predicting when or if your child will be ready for a nap.
Select a time to awaken that allows you to begin the day without rushing. Then maintain that wake time within a 30-minute window seven days a week. You will not need to sleep later on the weekend because you will be getting the sleep you need most days of the week.
2. Wake before the children:
What if instead of waking with a jolt, barraged with demands from others, you woke 20-30 minutes BEFORE the children and used this time to do something that brought you to a state of calm energy. It could be anything, showering and dressing peacefully, savoring a cup of coffee, exercising, meditating, or organizing your day. It does not matter what you do if it centers you. Children synchronize to our stress level. Begin your day caring for YOU. This will set the tone for the rest of the morning.
3. Determine a consistent wake time for your children:
Just like you, your children need a consistent wake time to set their body clock. If your child must awaken at 6:00 AM one day a week, but other mornings sleeps until 7:00, his consistent wake time must be 6:00 AM. Otherwise it’s as if he’s changing time zones several times a week, resulting in jet lag and a disruption of his body clock. Then not only is getting him up in the morning a problem, but bedtime is as well. Establish and maintain a 30-minute wake window. If your child is not awake within that time, wake him. If you have an infant, you will not wake her, but you will open blinds, turn on lights, and grind your coffee beans. These cues from the environment will help to establish her circadian rhythm which controls her sleep/wake cycle and thus enhance her nighttime sleep – meaning more sleep for you too!
4. If you are being woken by an alarm, or others– move bedtime earlier:
If you are getting the sleep you need you will naturally, and peacefully awaken at the same time each morning. No alarms are required.
That is why it is important to know how much sleep you need.
Average sleep needs:
- Adults 8.25 hours
- Infants 14-16 hours
- Toddlers 13-14 hours
- Preschoolers and kindergarteners 11-12 hours
- School-age 10-11 hours
- Adolescents 9.25 hours
Maintain a sleep log, recording when you and your children wake, nap, and fall asleep at night. This will help you to fine-tune your routine to ensure everyone gets the sleep they need.
1. If you do not have a consistent wake time, what are you doing instead?
3. What is one change you could make to establish a consistent wake time and bring peace to your morning?