IF YOUR MORNING ALARM MAKES YOU GROAN AND REPEATEDLY HIT SNOOZE, A FEW TWEAKS TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT MIGHT MAKE MORNINGS A BIT LESS PAINFUL. IF YOU’VE MASTERED THE RESTFUL MASTER BEDROOM RETREAT, COULD IT BE THAT YOU HAVE MADE THINGS A LITTLE TOO RELAXING? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO HELP YOUR FEET HIT THE FLOOR WITH MORE ENTHUSIASM.
Use color and the sun to your advantage
While pale neutrals might help you drift off to sleep, they aren’t ideal for helping you feel energized when you open your eyes. Adding some vibrant color to your bedroom can make a difference—and you don’t necessarily have to change your entire palette. If you don’t want to paint the room, consider adding pillows, art work or an accent piece in a bright color like coral, yellow or emerald green in an area you’ll see when you open your eyes.
If your room doesn’t get a lot of natural morning sunlight, consider breaking out the paint brush and painting the room a soft yellow to mimic natural light. Make sure to paint a large sample board first and leave it against your wall for a day or two to be sure you’ve chosen a pleasing buttery shade and not an electric yellow.
If you are lucky enough to get the bright morning sun streaming through your windows, you can use it to help you awaken by installing motorized blinds and shades, which can be programmed to open and close at a certain time of day. Depending on the time of year, you’ll sometimes have to rise when it is still dark, but when the times coincide, this is a much more natural way to wake up than to the buzz of an alarm. Motorized shades can also be operated remotely so you can adjust them with the push of a button on your bedside table.
When you do get up, do your feet hit a cold, hard floor or a scratchy rug? Treat your sense of touch with a soft rug at the bedside—a sheepskin, a plush wool—anything that feels soft and comfortable to the touch will do the trick. And once you cross the floor to grab your robe, keep in mind that the color of the robe you reach for can also help you feel ready to face the day. Ditch your old white robe and invest in brightly colored one to help you kick off your morning routine.
Set up your bedroom like a luxury hotel
Think of the nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed in, and why you enjoyed it. It was clean, free of clutter and had a few extra touches that made waking up a bit more pleasant, right? Think about how you can incorporate a hotel’s charms into your own space. For example, you probably had a cup of tea or coffee in your room before heading down to the lobby. Why not install a small coffee bar in your bedroom? All it takes is a small piece of furniture, a few mugs and an available outlet to plug in your coffeemaker.
To punch up your coffee bar style, add a small vase of flowers (a chance to work in those bright yellows, corals and greens) and a pretty tray or vintage wooden crate to hold your coffee mugs. Set the auto timer to brew at the time you want to wake up every day—the smell of fresh coffee will put a smile on your face and a spring in your morning step. If one of you is a coffee drinker but the other likes tea, consider a single-serving model with pods for different flavored coffees, teas and hot chocolate.
After you took the first sip of coffee in your hotel room, you likely read the paper that was slid under your door early that morning. If you enjoy catching up on the day’s news, local papers and many national papers offer free or paid subscriptions to electronic editions, so you can browse on your phone, tablet or computer. Consider carving out daily time to sit with your coffee and read the news for a less hectic start to the day. If you have the space, add a designated spot to read and sip—a comfortable chair, a plush throw, a small side table and a lamp are all you need to create the coziest reading spot in the house.
After you finished that cup of coffee, you probably strolled into the hotel bath, stocked with soaps and miniature toiletries. Everyone loves the soaps and lotions at a luxury hotel, and they often smell heavenly. Invest in some soap, lotion, essential oils and candles in energizing scents, instead of (or in addition to) ones that lull you into dreamland at night. Look for products that contain peppermint, citrus, rosemary or eucalyptus—which have been credited with doing everything from reducing stress levels to helping you feel alert, focused and stimulated. Why not light a candle before you step into the shower, so you’re greeted with an energizing scent when you come out?
Organize and plan for an easier morning
Organizing, decluttering and downsizing our belongings has never been more in vogue. For example, in the international bestselling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up , author Marie Kondo contends that tidying up will transform your life. In a nutshell, she advises to put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it brings you joy, and if not, thank it for its service and donate it. Second, take what remains and put every item in a place where it is visible, accessible and easy to grab and put back in its place. While this concept may seem extreme, most people can agree they feel more relaxed, less stressed and more optimistic when their living spaces are tidy—and while it may not transform your entire life, a tidy bedroom might transform your morning.
When you wake, do you see an open laptop on a desk, or a pile of unfolded clothes? Opening your eyes to unfinished tasks, a reminder of work deadlines and visual clutter is mentally draining. Banish work to another area of the house, and if you can, fold laundry elsewhere. The most restorative bedrooms are only for sleeping and relaxing, and not for completing our laundry list of tasks (including the laundry). If you don’t have a designated laundry room, find another spot in the house for the drying rack of clothes and laundry baskets. In short, don’t use your room as the household dumping ground.
Once the clutter has been banished, designing better mornings is often about streamlining. Can you pick out your clothes the night before, and hang them on the back of the door? How about investing in a standing valet to hold your clothes, shoes and accessories in your bedroom or bathroom for the next day so you aren’t rifling through your closet? Often the dread in waking up is the long list of tasks that have to be accomplished before you make your way out the door. Delegate to other family members when reasonable (Can your oldest child walk the dog? Pack his own lunch?) and check off other items the night before, so you can hit the pillow knowing you won’t have a crazy morning.
While life outside your bedroom door might sometimes move at an overwhelming clip, you can design a more morning-friendly bedroom that kicks off your day in the right direction.
SCENTS TO HELP YOU WAKE UP
(From Sleep.org, a resource from the National Sleep Foundation)
Just as certain scents like lavender can help you drift off to sleep, other aromas can be just what you need to feel alert and awake:
CITRUS: Lemons, oranges and grapefruits aren’t just delicious and nutritious—the smell of the fruits can boost your body’s production of serotonin, a hormone that makes you feel happy. They also reduce levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine, so you’ll wake up but still feel calm. Lemon might be the most powerful of the citrus smells—it’s been shown that smelling it can increase mental stimulation. Since these scents come from everyday foods, you could try eating a grapefruit each morning or squeezing some lemon or orange juice into a smoothie.
PEPPERMINT: It’s probably no surprise that this refreshing scent will make you feel alert, focused and stimulated. In fact, peppermint also helps you perform better on tasks that require sustained attention. Peppermint tea is especially soothing and aromatic.
ROSEMARY: The smell of this common herb will get your brain revved up and working again, giving you more mental and physical energy. Another bonus: Rosemary can help you perform tasks better and faster, so keep sniffing it throughout the day if you’re at work. At breakfast, sprinkle some rosemary onto your turkey sausage and eggs.
EUCALYPTUS: This woodsy scent will definitely help wake you up, and it can also improve your empathy if you combine it with menthol and camphor. Another bonus: If you’re stuffed up due to congestion, breathing in this scent may also help clear up your nasal passages. That’s not bad for a simple plant that’s best known as koalas’ favorite snack!