How to Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
Tired of being tired? You get enough sleep yet you still feel groggy when you wake up, implement this simple solution to help you wake up rejuvenated.
So you have a bedtime routine, you get enough sleep but you still end up waking up drowsy?! Longing for the warmth of your bed! *SIGH* been there, done that!
Having a persistent issue with not getting enough good quality sleep can not only lead to us feeling groggy but also present us with many other health issues. Sleep helps us to process the day, it ensures that the cells in our bodies repair themselves and our minds become rejuvenated.
Honestly, adulting is hard! And the temptation to stay in bed after the alarm has gone off is all... too... real! 😥 We all understand the importance of good quality sleep, but what if there is a way to enhance this?! So that we can wake up feeling a little more refreshed! Oh how that can really help to just make our lives a little easier.
When we go to sleep, having a calming routine is necessary so we can catch those zzz's and have a restful slumber. Equally, when we wake up we should try to go at a slower pace, this allows for less stress, more alertness and for us to be more centred throughout the day - WINNING!! But how you say? Well... Let's take a look!👇
Sleep starts in the brain
When we fall asleep, we merely don't just 'switch off', we actually have a lot of biological processes that are orchestrated. During our slumber, our brains start to clear waste, strengthen connections between nerve cells in order to reenergise the body, support learning and memory retention. So, for us to enhance the benefits of our restful sleep and wake up more rejuvenated - we need to look at nourishing our brains.
Now, there are plenty of ways and things we can do to improve our brain health such as feeding our bodies, trying a new activity, socialising, managing stress and the likes. We can also incorporate some herbs, light movements and simply just taking the time to breathe.
Struggling to actually doze off? Check out this post for some tips: Why Can't I Sleep? And Ways to Drift Off Naturally.
There are many reasons we may turn to herbs for sleep support. Herbs are honestly a great way for us to enhance the benefits when we finally do get a bit of shut-eye. They gently support the body and are natural with little to no side effects (YAY!).
When looking for herbs that will support cognitive function during sleep - we have to make sure that it is also calming. The last thing we want is to be wired before sleep due to a stimulating herb. So, below, I have compiled a list of 3 herbs (and trust me there are plenty more) and their benefits with relation to sleep and the brain!
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Is there anything this herb can't do?! Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which means that it helps to support your adrenal glands to better cope in times of stress by promoting homeostasis (balance) in the body. Now with some adaptogens, they have a more stimulating effect on the body; with ashwagandha it actually has a calming effect, making it perfect for a sleepy time herb.
Not only can ashwagandha support: a stress-free sleep; but it has traditionally been used for brain and cognitive support. Research has found that this wonderful adaptogenic herb may be beneficial at reducing oxidative stress in the brain, helping to enhance focus, memory and concentration. Can someone pass me the ashwagandha?
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
This mint family herb has well known use in anxiety and insomnia. It helps to balance the nervous system and promotes a sense of calm in the body.
When it comes to the brain, lemon balm has been shown to improve cognitive performance, namely, memory. This lemon-flavoured herb is packed full of antioxidants and has acetylcholinesterase (an enzyme) inhibitory effects. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that can help to improve certain processes in the brain such as memory. Lemon balm can help prevent the break down of this neurotransmitter (by blocking the enzyme) thus helping to improve cognition.
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
A water-loving plant with small, fan-shaped leaves. Gotu kola is a real showoff to be honest! Despite it being part of the parsley family, it has no distinctive taste or smell but don't let that fool you.
Gotu kola helps to bring the chemicals in the brain into balance. It therefore has the ability to alleviate stress, anxiety and even depression by increasing feel-good neurotransmitters in the old noggin'! It also can help to reduce levels of cortisol - the stress hormone. Just like lemon balm and ashwagandha, gotu kola is packed full of antioxidants which all contributes to its cognitive enhancing abilities.
If stress is the reason for your lack of good quality sleep, then I have a blog post dedicated to: 5 Herbs to Uplift Your Mood & Relieve Stress.
When we talk about the brain, we can't not mention oxygen! It is an essential part to us being alive! When your body has more oxygen, it has more energy. The same for your brain.
When you roll out of bed in the morning, it is good practice to take a few minutes to do some deep breathing exercises to activate the respiratory system and get oxygen flowing to the brain. You certainly will feel a greater sense of calm and clarity.
Another good practice to include in your morning routine is exercise. Now this doesn't mean going out and running a marathon when you wake up (if this works for you though, then do you boo) but it can be something as simple as a couple of gentle stretches, or a lovely stroll around your bedroom or outside (whichever you prefer 😅).
Getting your body moving in the morning will again help to flood your brain with oxygen, which will help with the growth of new nerve cells and connections. It will also help to reduce stress and give you a general sense of well-being. When I started to incorporate exercise into my morning routine (my exercise of choice is: pilates), I could really feel the difference - it also gives you a sense of accomplishment because you have already completed something for the day.
Incorporating some simple practices like the brain-enhancing herbs and taking the time to slow down in the morning while ensuring your brain gets the oxygen it oh-so-deserves, will certainly help to bring alertness and a sense of calm so that you can tackle the day! YAY!
Enjoyed this post? Then please share and leave a comment below with what herb you will incorporate into your sleep routine?
Akhondzadeh, S., Noroozian, M., Mohammadi, M., Ohadinia, S., Jamshidi, A. H., & Khani, M. (2003). Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry; 74(7): 863–866.
DiPasquale, R. (2014). Effect of Ashwagandha on Tests of Cognitive and Psychomotor Performance: Review of a prospective, double-blind, multi-dose, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Nat Med J; 6(5).
Soodi, M., Naghdi, N., Hajimehdipoor, H., Choopani, S., & Sahraei, E. (2014). Memory-improving activity of Melissa officinalis extract in naïve and scopolamine-treated rats. Research in pharmaceutical sciences; 9(2): 107–114.
Veerendra kumar, M. H., & Gupta, Y. K. (2003). Effect of Centella asiatica on cognition and oxidative stress in an intracerebroventricular streptozotocin model of Alzheimer's disease in rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol; 30(5-6): 336-42.
Ven murthy, M. R., Ranjekar, P. K., Ramassamy, C., & Deshpande, M. (2010). Scientific basis for the use of Indian ayurvedic medicinal plants in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders: ashwagandha. Cent Nerv Syst Agents Med Chem; 10(3): 238-46.