If you're wondering how to wake up early in winter, follow these expert tips.
These 7 Expert Tips Might Actually Make You Become A Morning Person In The Winter

Whatever you do, don’t press snooze.

by Julia Guerra
Originally Published: 
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Is it even possible to rise and shine in the early hours of a frigid winter morning? If you’re not a morning person by nature, it’s consistently frustrating to open your eyes, only to find that your room is just as dark as it was when you fell asleep the night before. Even if you are a morning person, when it’s cold and dark outside, it’s just such a struggle to get out of bed. Still, it's not impossible to learn how to be a morning person in the winter; it just takes a little grunt work, and a lot of patience. Also, coffee. You’re definitely going to want coffee.

Whether you’ve always been one of those early to bed, early to rise type of people or not, once Daylight Saving Time starts creeping up, forget it. While you’re up and at ‘em, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and preparing for another day, the sun's golden rays are still sound asleep somewhere in the atmosphere. Rude.

And mind you, it’s not just night owls who are hitching a ride on the struggle bus from November through March. Early birds feel it, too, and according to mental health counselor Danielle Forshee, LLC, the obvious lack of sunlight is what’s making you want to press “snooze.”

“Naturally, our brains associate darkness with nighttime and sleeping, while our brains associate light with rising and being productive,” she tells Elite Daily in an email. So, when you're used to rising with the sun, it's that much harder to wake up without those rays of sunshine peeking through your curtains.

So, how can you possibly condition yourself to be a morning person in the wintertime, when all you see when you open your eyes is pitch black darkness? Here are a few expert tips to get you through the next couple of months.

Trade Your Noisy Alarm For A Lamp That Mimics The Sunlight

The problem with waking up early in the morning in winter isn't that you're setting your alarm any earlier than you normally would. It's the fact that, when your alarm goes off, it's still dark AF outside. See, your circadian rhythm — aka your body's natural sleep-wake schedule — goes by the dark-light schedule of the sun, so when you're suddenly waking up in darkness, your body's initial reaction is going to be a strong yearning to go back to sleep.

For some, this can trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that happens at the same time each year, typically around the fall and winter months. According to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly 5% of adults in the United States experience SAD each year, while 10 to 20% of the population battles a less extreme form of the winter blues. If you think you may be dealing with SAD rather than a more minor case of winter blues, be sure to talk to a mental health professional to find the best treatment methods for you.

Generally speaking, if you're simply looking for ways to wake up on the right side of the bed on a dark, cold morning, Forshee suggests experimenting with light therapy like with an alarm clock that simulates a sunrise. This involves exposing yourself in the morning to a type of light that mimics natural light, which the mental health counselor says can "help stimulate certain brain chemicals to enhance your mood."

Don't Make Any Major Adjustments To Your Sleep Schedule
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No matter what time of year it is, it’s important to stick to a routine sleep schedule in order to wake up feeling your absolute best. According to Forshee, following a set bedtime and wake-up time in the winter (and really, any time of year) is a great idea, as it gets your body into a natural rhythm. "Suffering from increased sleepiness in the beginning of the fall-winter months may be something you contend with," she tells Elite Daily. Even so, it’s important keep yourself on a regular sleep-wake cycle so you don't end up disrupting your circadian rhythm, Forshee explains.

No Matter How Sleepy You Are, Don't Press Snooze

It is so unbelievably tempting to press the snooze button again and again, but this is something you want to avoid as much as possible. First of all, there's a really good chance you'll slip up and accidentally press cancel instead of snooze on your alarm, in which case you'll probably end up sleeping super late, messing up your entire morning routine, and potentially resulting in you being late for work or school.

Physiologically speaking, life coach Katie Sandler warns that when you hit snooze, you're not only putting a dent in your morning routine, "you are interrupting your body's natural process of waking up." When you struggle to wake up, she explains, your brain struggles to become fully alert, leaving you in a bit of a fog.

However, Sandler tells Elite Daily that you can use the powers of snooze for good. When you hit snooze, take a few minutes to be mindful and organize your thoughts about the day ahead instead of going back to bed. Sandler says this can be a great way to enjoy those few extra minutes swaddled in the comfort of your warm bed.

Take A Morning Workout Class
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Why not get the heart racing in the early morning? While it may be difficult to wake up the first few times, creating a habit and doing it frequently will only make it easier and easier. Whether you have a Peloton at home or love using ClassPass for workouts, wake up this winter and get ready to move. Starting your day with a workout is a great way to wake up and feel energized, plus it’ll give you a boost of endorphins. Have a friend come with you so you can hold each other accountable and also make it a little more fun.

Start Showering In The Morning

Granted, stripping down to nothing but your birthday suit in a cold room, only to hop into the shower and have water pelting your face, doesn't exactly sound like a soothing wake-up call, but according to Robert Glatter, M.D., it can be.

"A morning shower can help to both relax you and also provide motivation to kickstart your day," the assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health tells Elite Daily. The trick is, you have to know how to work the shower temperatures to your advantage.

"A soothing warm shower, followed by a brief cold shower at the end, can provide the perfect way to start your day," Glatter explains. He adds that the burst of cool water at the end helps to stimulate circulation, boost your immunity, and even help reduce any anxieties you might have about the day ahead.

Make A Morning To-Do List You Can Tackle As Soon As You Wake Up
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You have to wake up in the morning regardless of whether the sun is shining or the moon is full, right? So, why not make the most of it and start checking things off your to-do list after you've rubbed your eyes awake and put on a pot of coffee?

Chris Bratner, a certified sleep coach and founder of SleepZoo, says that creating a list of tasks the night before can be beneficial in two ways. For one, the activity in and of itself can help you "offload worry and get better sleep," he tells Elite Daily, but you'll also wake up the next morning feeling refreshed because you'll have a clearer picture in your mind of what you need to accomplish.

"This helps quell anxiety in the morning," Brantner explains, adding that it also “helps you feel less rushed." The best part is that accomplishing the small tasks on your to-do list will leave you feeling productive all day long.

Express Gratitude For The Day Ahead

This might seem a little corny, but if someone as successful and happy-go-lucky as Shay Mitchell wakes up and says thank you to the universe for another day, then IMO, it's worth a try.

According to Naam (Neuro Activating Advanced Meditation) as taught by Dr. Joseph Michael Levry, the power of anything lies in its beginning. Therefore, the way we start our day defines its course and success. “First thing in the morning upon waking, take a moment of gratitude combined with conscious breathing and a clear intention, even if it is just for three minutes. It can elevate your state of mind and increase your vibration so you can attract positive events and favorable circumstances in your day,” Naam Yoga tells Elite Daily.

Experts Cited:

Mental health counselor Danielle Forshee, LLC

Naam Yoga

Life coach Katie Sandler

Robert Glatter, M.D.

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