For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jan 29 2016
by Natalee Gustin

Waking Up On the Right Side of the Bed

By Natalee Gustin - Jan 29 2016
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Each morning, you are enjoying those blissful moments of sleep when all of a sudden, you are rudely awoken by a blaring alarm clock and are reminded of your full schedule for the day. Waking up is probably everyone’s least favorite part of the day, because you have to peel yourself away from the sweet serenity of your bed and face your busy day. Despite how much you love sleep, there is hope that all mornings don’t have to be so rough. This semester, don’t let the midwinter blues of gloomy, frigid weather and those 8AM classes get you down; 2016 can be the year of waking up and staying happy throughout the entire day. Just a few little changes to your routine can make a huge difference in your mood:

1. Get to sleep early.

I know, you probably just laughed (and cried a little) at this tip. We’ve been told our whole lives that we need to get a seemingly unrealistic amount of sleep by our parents, teachers and doctors, and usually this request is followed up by an eye roll from you. I realize that as a college student, it is oftentimes difficult to justify sleeping when there is a pile of papers to write and exams to study for. However, sleeping is incredibly important for a healthy mind and body. Scientist Cari Gillen-O’Neel reports that, “regardless of how much a student generally studies each day, if that student sacrifices sleep time to study more than usual, he or she will have more trouble understanding material taught in class and be more likely to struggle on an assignment or test the following day.” So, spending the wee hours of the night studying will only hurt you in the long run. A lack of sleep can also cause depression, weight gain, aging skin, poor judgement and a shorter attention span. I feel like you won’t argue too much with me on this one, so try to get more sleep by managing your time wisely and staying away from time wasters like social media right before bed.

2. Be prepared for the day.

After a long day, you’re probably exhausted and just want to stumble into bed. But if you’re anything like me and you leave your textbooks, chargers, notebooks, snacks, and all other essential things sprawled across your room at night, the next morning is chaos. Before you go to sleep, do a few things to prepare for the next day so you’re not in such a rush: pack your backpack with all of the things you need, set aside your keys, pick out your outfit (check the weather so you plan accordingly!), and set out some snacks to take with you. This will help you to have a calm, relaxed morning, setting a good tone for the rest of your day.

3. Get out of bed right away.

I am 100% guilty of setting 7 alarms every morning to get me out of bed. However, hitting the snooze button actually makes you more groggy, as your sleep cycle is disturbed. Get up to that first alarm and do a quick 5 minute stretch to shake off sleepiness and to get your muscles moving.

4. Eat a healthy breakfast.

Haven’t you heard over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Well, it’s 100% the truth. In fact, breakfast should be your biggest meal of the day. I don’t encourage you to grab four Pop Tarts before you run off to class, however; you should eat a balanced breakfast with protein and carbohydrates to keep you energized and full until lunchtime. Some quick and power-packed options are toast with peanut butter (add a dash of cinnamon and banana slices for an extra energy kick), a parfait with Greek yogurt, or oatmeal. Eating breakfast every morning is proven to help cognitive functions, helps you stay awake and alert, and studies have found that it improves test scores.

5. Jam out.

Create an upbeat morning playlist that fills you with good vibes. Don’t be afraid to dance! A little bit of exercise and some energizing music will make you feel less tired and give you some endorphins to start your day.

6. Smile.

Okay, I know this sounds like something corny that your mom would tell you, but there is real scientific evidence that supports the theory that certain facial expressions can influence your mood. Check out this New York Times article to learn more.

Cheers to happier, healthier and more awake mornings in 2016 and beyond!

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Natalee Gustin - University of Minnesota Twin Cities

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