There are two kinds of mornings. There are some mornings when you wake up with a start as soon as the alarm goes off. You are jarred out of sleep and you are still groggy while you go around getting ready for the day. Then there are other mornings when you wake up unassisted.
How to Wake Up Without an Alarm
You can train yourself to wake up by yourself by following your natural circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles regulated by your body’s internal clock. It runs in the background, timing all the body’s processes and functions. One of the functions controlled by this clock is the sleep-wake cycle.
Various systems in the body are synchronized to the master clock in the brain. Circadian rhythms are controlled by the presence and absence of light besides other environmental cues. This they are connected to the cycle of day and night.
When correctly aligned these rhythms promote regular and restorative sleep. When thrown off they can give rise to problems like insomnia, hormonal imbalance, and other physical and mental ailments.
How Do Circadian Rhythms Work?
These rhythms ensure that the body’s functions and processes are optimized in the 24-hour cycle. This term – circadian comes from Circa Diem (Latin) which translates to “around the day” or a cycle. This cycle sets up the rhythm of the day on the earth. The flowers open and close according to this cycle. The nocturnal animals leave their shelter for meals.
In humans, this rhythm coordinates the mental and physical systems. The digestive system produces digestive juices to match meal times, the endocrine system regulates the hormones, the mitochondria rev up energy production.
The sleep cycle is connected to the circadian rhythms that are connected to the body’s master clock AKA the circadian pacemaker. It is based in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. The clock genes in the SCN send out signals at various times of the day to regulate activities throughout the body.
The suprachiasmatic nucle us (SCN) is very sensitive to light. These light signals serve as cues to influence and coordinate the various internal clocks of the body. There are other factors that influence the master clock, but light is the most powerful.
The Difference Between Circadian Rhythm and Biological Clock?
The biological clock is an organism’s innate time device. These clocks are composed of certain molecules or proteins that interact in every cell of the body. These cells make up the tissues, organs, and systems of the body. Circadian rhythms are one of the effects of the biological clock but not vice versa. For example, plants adjust to seasonal changes using their biological clock which may be different from the 24 – hour cycle.
How Does the Circadian Rhythm Affect Sleep?
The Sleep-Wake cycle is linked to light. The exposure to light causes the master clock to send signals of alertness to the entire body. This pulls you out of the slumber and activates every cell. As the night falls the master clock initiates melatonin production. This hormone promotes sleep while transmitting signals that keep you sleeping through the night.
As soon as the sun is up the light caused the clock to stop producing melatonin. This awakens us. Over millennia our sleep cycle has been aligned to the rising and setting of the sun. Thus, we are awake during the day and asleep at night. This restorative cycle promotes alertness and productivity during the day.
When you let the circadian rhythm wake you naturally. You feel better, your mood is stable and you feel hungry at the right time.
How to Set Up the Sleep Cycle?
To entrain your 24-hour sleep cycle follow these tips;
Seek out the Sun – Natural light especially early morning is the strongest circadian cue. It reinforces the cycle. When you wake up to the light over 21 days your sleep cycle is set. And you wake up without the alarm.
90-minute sleep cycles – Here is an experiment. Try getting seven and a half hours of sleep and then move up from there. The reason being 7.5 hours covers five 90-minute cycles of sleep. The body goes through sleep cycles through the stages of sleep.
Stage 1 is a Non-REM stage, a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. It lasts around 5 – 10 minutes. Stage 2 is when the body temperature drops and the heart rate slows down. The brain begins to produce sleep spindles of alpha and theta waves or the K-spindles. This lasts around 20 minutes.
Stage 3 is when the muscles relax, the blood pressure, and rate of breathing drop. You are in the deepest sleep here. Stage 4 is similar to Stage 3 as the brain is producing delta waves. People experience parasomnias such as bed-wetting, nightmares, sleepwalking, etc. in this stage. This is the transition stage between non-REM and REM sleep.
Stage 5 is the REM sleep when the brain becomes active, the body becomes immobilized and relaxed. You see dreams and there is rapid eye movement (REM). After the REM stage, your sleep becomes lighter and it is easier to wake up.
Your goal is to wake up during the lightest stage of sleep by yourself. This promotes a sense of wellbeing and keeps you energetic throughout the day.
Follow a Schedule – Keep a regular bedtime. This will help you get sufficient rest through the night to wake up by yourself in the morning. This helps regulate circadian rhythms.
Figure out how much sleep you need – Most people require a 7 – 9-hour sleep. Count backward from when you want to wake up to find out when you should sleep. So, if you have to wake up at 6 am and you require 8 hours of sleep then count backward. You will need to be asleep by 10 pm to wake up at 6 am. If you sleep at 11 pm to adjust the body clock move the bedtime backward in the increments of 15 minutes. Try turning in at 10:45 the first week, then turn in at 10:30 pm the next week, do this till you have the time set to 10 pm.
Bedtime ritual – Get ready for bed. Take a warm shower, wear loose clothes. Focus on your breathing – breath lightly. Dim the lights, switch off the phone – which is in our top 10 tips too! Try stretching – it removes the kinks and tension in the body. It promotes an unrestricted flow of blood that flushes away toxins and circulates oxygen and nutrition along with melatonin. Promoting sleep. Meditating on your breath is like a silent lullaby that slowly lulls you to sleep.
Exercise daily – This activity sets the internal clock and makes it easy to fall asleep at night.
Dim the lights – As we are exposed to lights even after dark in modern times. This upsets our sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythms. We should be sleeping with the sunset and rising at the crack of dawn. But the delayed onset of sleep due to the arterial lights makes it difficult to wake up early morning. Thus, try dim lights, avoid watching TV, computer, or smartphone at least 1 – 2 hours before bedtime. If you must use the devices then use the blue-blocking lens. This cuts out the harmful effects of LED lights and helps the production of melatonin.
Avoid stimulants – like caffeine as it throws off the balance of wakefulness and sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep then avoid caffeine afternoon.
Keep naps short – If you nap during the day – keep them short. The later in the day you nap and longer you nap the further you push your bedtime. This throws the sleep-wake cycle off balance.
In conclusion, applying these tips to improve your sleep hygiene helps flush out toxins from your body. Which in turn helps refresh and reboot your brain the next day. A healthy circadian rhythm and sleep cycle helps improve and maintain the overall health and optimal functioning of the body and mind. Now you know the secrets of sleep and these tips you should be able to wake up by yourself every day. If you need some extra help on – How to Wake Up Without an Alarm? Then you could try a sleep tracker. It will gently arouse you at the end of the sleep cycle by simulating sunrise. It does this by using a wakeup light.