Five tips to get yourself up on a dark winter morning. For so many of us, waking up is not easy, and it can be even harder in the autumn and winter months when the days are shorter and darker. The lack of sunlight at this time of year means our brain produce more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes us sleepy.
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Table of Contents
1. Turn up the light
“Your body clock is directly linked to light and darkness, so exposure to bright light (preferably sunlight) first thing in the morning will help you get up and hit the ground running,” says Stanley. According to Ebrahim, “Bright light suppresses your melatonin production and activates the waking phase”. This, of course, is a problem in winter. Stanley says, “On darker mornings, use your normal morning behaviours (i.e. eating breakfast or showering) to signal to your body that you are up and intend to start the day.”ADVERTISING
You could also try a wake-up light like the Lumie Bodyclock, which simulates a gentle sunrise during the last period of sleep. As Dr Victoria Revell, circadian rhythm expert at the University of Surrey, says: “Light therapy is a useful tool as it helps to keep your body clock on track during the dark winter months and can also directly boost your mood.”
2. Get the sleep you need for waking up
Contrary to the popular belief that we should be sleeping at least six hours each night, Stanley says, “Your sleep need is genetically determined, like height or shoe size. Anywhere between three and 11 hours can be considered normal, but getting the right amount of sleep for you is key.” To work out how many hours you need, Ebrahim says, “If you feel awake during the day, then you’ve had enough sleep; if not, you’re probably not getting enough. Try taking away or adding an hour to find your balance.”
If you find your sleep quality is the problem, consider investing in the right mattress for you. As chief product officer at Casper, Jeff Chapin, says, the quality of your mattress can determine just how well you sleep. “A well-designed mattress will provide ergonomic support, temperature regulation, pressure relief, motion isolation and prolonged durability, to give your body the rest it needs.”
3. Sleep at the right time
Your body clock dictates whether you are a morning lark or a night owl, which also affects the highs and lows of your mood throughout the day. Stanley says that this “is partly genetically determined, although the timing of our sleep can be dictated by our home lives and occupations.” Your body clock can be altered, but this requires some work. Ebrahim says, “With jet lag, it takes around 72 hours to get back into your natural sleep cycle. If you want to completely alter your cycle, you need to take melatonin (the sleep hormone) early in the evenings until it starts to naturally release at this time.”
4. Waking up at the same time
The body craves regularity, so having a set wake-up time is advantageous in getting you up in the morning. According to Stanley, “the body prepares you to wake up about one and a half hours before you’re actually awake.” By getting yourself into the routine of knowing when to wake, you can eventually maximise your sleep opportunity, and naturally prepare yourself to get up. “If your body doesn’t know when you are going to wake, it cannot prepare, and thus you are liable to feel groggy,” he says.
Put simply, snoozing is detrimental to easy waking. “Your body would like as much undisturbed sleep as possible. If you wake up and press the snooze button, this ‘snooze’ sleep is almost certainly going to be less beneficial than the unbroken sleep you would have had if you had set your alarm for the time you have to get up” says Stanley. Therefore, select the time you must get up to avoid pressing the button. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.