Twelve hacks to wake up in darker mornings



If you’re struggling to pull yourself out of bed in the morning then you’re not alone.

It’s no surprise that as the mornings get darker and colder, we’d much rather stay wrapped up in our duvet than face the day and the miserable weather ahead.

Earlier this week was October’s full moon, so it’s likely you woke up feeling a bit groggy today, as many experts say it can have an impact on your mood and your sleep pattern.

Some people love nothing more than waking at the crack of dawn and seizing the day.

While others are at their most productive in the evening hours.

Either way, we all still have a wake up time and if you’re finding it hard to get out of bed there are hundreds of ways to complement your natural patterns of wakefulness – and sleep – throughout the day and night.

Optometrist Roshni Patel said: “With winter now here, many of us will be struggling to wake up in the dark each morning now that the sun isn’t rising until 7:25 am.”

Here experts reveal the best ways you can wake yourself up in darker mornings.

1. Look after your eyes

Roshni said: “Simply splashing both warm and cold water on your eyes will not only help you wake up, but the warm water will help open up your pores on the skin around your eyes.

She explained that it will also give a more youthful glow to your eyes, whilst cold water can then close your pores and prevent dirt and makeup irritating your skin.

2. Eat a good breakfast

A woman sleeps in her bed.
Having a protein-packed breakfast is key to getting a boost in the morning.
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For those who are more of a ‘morning person’, having a breakfast packed with protein is key, says Holland and Barrett’s senior nutritionist Alex Glover.

He explained: “Early Birds should start their mornings with a hearty breakfast, packed with protein & fiber to help keep them feeling fuller for longer – with the break between breakfast and lunch up to a good 7 hours if rising around 6 am, as is usual for this ‘sleep type’”.

“Foods like oats are perfect for early birds thanks to their high content of soluble fiber, and mixing in a high-quality flavored protein will pack their extra protein punch.”

3. Natural boosts

Woman feeds her husband vitamins.
Vitamins can be a good alternative to caffeine.

If you feel lethargic in the afternoons then it’s more than likely you’re reaching for a coffee or some other caffeinated beverage.

This is only going to leave you feeling wired closer to bedtime, meaning you wake up feeling groggy.

Alex said that instead of reaching for the coffee you should try a natural energy booster such as a daily Vitamin B12 which contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

4. An apple a day

Stephanie Taylor, managing director, at StressNoMore said an apple a day doesn’t just keep the doctor away.  

She explained: “They also contain around 13g of natural sugar and according to studies, this has a similar effect on the body as coffee. 

“Natural glucose from the apple is slowly digested, which makes you feel more awake. Not only this but unlike caffeine, there are no jolts or energy slumps once it has been eaten. 

“Porridge and leafy greens will help you feel more alert in those early morning hours, once you’ve got out of bed. “

5. Get a pet

Woman plays with her pet.
Pets can help establish a health morning and bedtime routine.

If you won’t get up on time for yourself, a pet will make sure you’re up at the same time every day.

Stephanie explained: “Pets are real sticklers for routine and if your dog knows it’s ‘walkies’ at 7 am, it will make sure you’re up at that time every morning without fail. The best alarm clock going! 

“A light bit of exercise to kick-start your day will also make you feel more awake and energized too, ready to achieve whatever you need to. 

“If getting a pet doesn’t fit with your lifestyle, why not consider other options, like dog-walking sites such as BorrowMyDoggy? This way you get the benefits of an early morning routine without the responsibility of having a dog 24/7.”

6. Get moving

Experts at Pro Plus say there is nothing better than a little bit of exercise to help wake you up in the morning.

They explained: “When you’re tired and running low on energy, probably the last thing you want to do is venture out into the cold. But you might be surprised by how energetic you feel after getting involved in some kind of physical activity every day.

“If it’s too cold outside, or you don’t fancy running the dark, try to migrate your workouts indoors. Aim for the NHS guideline of at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.”

7. Rehydrate

Chris Sanders from Radnor Hills Infusions said it’s most likely that you’re dehydrated when you wake up.

He explained: “Drinking 2-3 glasses of water right after you wake up is a great way to rehydrate your body and helps with moving the lower bowels for regularity in the morning.

“Even if you might not feel thirsty when you wake up, replenishing your fluids after eight hours of not consuming any water is imperative. This is especially crucial if you plan to workout in your morning schedule.

“This healthy habit will set you up for the rest of the day, as you prioritize staying hydrated.”

8. Take time to reflect

Man meditates at home.
Practicing mindfulness can relax a busy mind and help you get quality sleep.

Practicing mindfulness, and particularly engaging in a simple meditation practice, has been linked to a host of cognitive benefits.

John Nolan-Neylan, co-founder of nutrition brand Revvies Energy said: “Allowing yourself some time to relax, quiet the mind, and focus on regular, smooth breathing can boost the brain’s executive functions, reduce impulsive and emotional behavior, improve mood, and leave you feeling energized.”

9. Peppermint oil

A non-food boost can be delivered from Peppermint essential oil, commonly used in aromatherapy.

John explained: “It is widely accepted to be a great energy booster helping you to regain focus and stimulate your brain’s focusing abilities, for example, studies have shown that the aroma from the oil has a measurable positive impact on the performance of fatigued drivers.”

10. Let there be light

Young woman opens her curtains to let in the light.
Natural light lets the body know its daytime.

If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night and crept to the bathroom in the dark, it’s because you know the light will wake you up.

Now, no one is suggesting that you put the light on straight away, but slightly opening your curtains or blinds could help you adjust to the brightness.

You can also buy light alarm clocks that illuminate the room gradually to help ease you into the day.

11. Try vitamin D

As we don’t get much sunshine in the UK in the winter months, a vitamin D supplement could help.

Because we see less light, we get less vitamin D, being deficient in this vitamin is linked to sleep disorders so if you have enough of it, you’re also likely to wake up feeling a little bit less groggy.

12. Changing your bed time

This might seem strange as we all know that a bedtime routine is good for us.

But if you don’t like waking up in the dark you could always go to bed five minutes earlier each night so that you wake up when it’s a little bit lighter outside.

This will help you gradually tune your body into an earlier routine.


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