How To Be A Morning Person In The Winter Using These 6 Simple, Expert Tips
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, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to blink your eyes wide open, only to find that your room is just as dark as it was when you fell asleep the night before. I mean, I'm a morning person, and even I struggle to roll out of bed when it's cold and dark outside. 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.
I’ve always been one of those early to bed, early to rise type of people, but once Daylight Saving Time starts creeping up, forget it. I find myself feeling almost envious of the sun this time of year, which sounds silly, but hear me out: Isn’t it almost like that big fiery bulb in the sky is mocking you? Like, you’re up and at ‘em, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, preparing for another day, but 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 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 sour. “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 peaking 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 on fall and winter mornings 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 half a million people in the United States experience SAD each year, while 10 to 20 percent of the population battles 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. "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 mood."
Don't Make Any Major Adjustments To Your Sleep Schedule
I know myself, and no matter what time of year it is, I have to stick to a sleep schedule if I want to wake up feeling my 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. "If so, 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
Trust me, friend: I know how unbelievably tempting it can be to press snooze again and again, but this is bad news bears. 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, thus messing up your entire morning routine, and as a result, you could be tardy 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 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, you can use the powers of snooze for good. By hitting snooze and, instead of going back to bed, taking a few minutes to be mindful, and organize your thoughts about the day ahead, Sandler says this can be a great way to enjoy those few extra minutes swaddled in the comfort of your warm bed.
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 wakeup call, but according to Robert Glatter, M.D., it can be.
"A morning shower can help to both relax you, but 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.
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 therapists from Naam Yoga, expressing gratitude as soon as you wake up doesn't have to take up a huge chunk of your morning. It could even be as simple as whispering the word "thank you," or listing three things you're thankful for in that moment.
“By taking just a couple minutes out of your morning and dedicating them to yourself, you will experience a happier, healthier, and more productive lifestyle,” the therapists tell Elite Daily. “After doing it for a few weeks, you will actually start looking forward to mornings."
Make A Morning To-Do List You Can Tackle As Soon As You Wake Up
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, he adds, 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, "as well as helps you feel less rushed."