Wondering how you’ll wake up before the sun this winter? Waking up early in the winter certainly comes with its challenges–– they’re often cold, dark and can be altogether unmotivating.
If you’re not usually a morning person, waking up early in the winter can feel even more daunting. Even naturally early risers can feel the impacts of winter. Depending on where you live, the darkest days of winter might not see the sunrise until well after you’re used to getting out of bed.
Once daylight savings time hits, trying to wake up early becomes even more difficult. If you live somewhere where the clocks “fall back” in early November, you’re losing an hour of daylight on days that are already shorter.
There are several studies that show waking up early is synonymous with success. People who wake up early are shown to be more organized and productive, earn better grades, get better sleep, be more optimistic and more.
If you’re wondering how to wake up early this winter when all you want to do is stay cozy in bed, the following tips might help:
6 Tips to Help You Wake Up Early This Winter
1. Set an Alarm… And Don’t Hit Snooze
During the darkest time of the year, the first step to waking up is to set an alarm. If you need to be up at 5 a.m., set your alarm for 5 a.m. and don’t think twice about it, despite how dark and cold it might be outside.
When your alarm goes off in the morning, don’t hit snooze. It may sound impossible, but it’s not. Although it’s incredibly tempting to rest for just a few more minutes, doing so can make you feel even more groggy throughout your morning. When you hit snooze, you actually disrupt the body’s natural process of waking up.
Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at Stanford University, recommends setting your alarm for the exact time you need to wake up and getting up as soon as it goes off. Getting up consistently at the same time each day without hitting snooze will help you maintain a natural sleep/wake cycle and allow your brain to become more fully alert without feeling foggy.
2. Turn On the Lights
If you have trouble waking up in the winter when it’s still dark out, you’re not alone. The lack of natural light puts a strain on your circadian rhythm since your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle is regulated by the rise and fall of the sun.
If you have to wake up early in the winter while it’s still dark out, it’s natural to want to go back to sleep. You can overcome this urge by quickly turning on your bedroom lights when your alarm goes off. Doing so can help simulate outdoor light, even if there are still hours before the sun comes up.
Consider light sources that mimic natural light so it’s less shocking to the senses first thing. Lightbulbs that resemble natural light can also help stimulate chemicals in the brain that can improve your mood. Another option is a sunrise alarm clock that gradually lights up the room to imitate the rising sun, gently and naturally easing you out of sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, exposure to light in the morning sends signals to the brain to increase body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol. Yes, increased cortisol levels are associated with higher levels of stress, but having higher cortisol levels in the morning is normal and helps us to wake up. Light exposure in the morning also delays the release of melatonin, which is associated with the onset of sleep and is produced in the brain when it’s dark.
3. Make Your Bed Immediately
One of the best practices you can implement to help you stay out of bed once you wake up is to make your bed immediately. According to a recent article by MSN, people who make their beds in the morning are basically better at everything. This just might include waking up earlier.
Research shows that people who get into a messy bed at night report lower quality of sleep and hit the snooze button regularly.
Making your bed in the morning can also give you an instant feeling of accomplishment to start your day, helping you feel more on top of things and better organized.
4. Take a Shower
Jumpstart your day by jumping in the shower. While getting out of your cozy bed and standing under a stream of running water might not sound like the best idea on a cold, dark morning, it can do wonders to help you wake up.
Robert Glatter, MD told Elite Daily: “A morning shower can help to relax you, but also provides motivation to kickstart your day … A soothing shower, followed by a brief cold shower at the end can provide the perfect way to start your day.”
Although nothing sounds worse than a blast of cold water at the end of a warm shower on a dark winter morning, it will help stimulate circulation.
Experts recommend switching to cold water for 30 seconds at the end of your shower, then switching back to hot water for 30 seconds, then returning to cold water for another 30 seconds. However you want to try it, that blast of cold water in the morning can help you wake up and start your day feeling fresh and energized.
5. Create a Morning Routine and Plan Ahead
Want to wake up early and feel good? Consider creating a morning routine that allows you to execute the beginning of your day with ease.
The more you plan ahead, the easier your morning will be. The way we start our morning has everything to do with how the rest of our day goes. This is especially important when waking up early in the winter.
Staying true to the tips on this list, your morning routine may include making your bed and taking a quick shower. Consider picking out your clothes the night before so you don’t waste time figuring out what to wear. Planning ahead is one of the best things you can do to make it easier to wake up.
Waking up early during the darkest months of the year is already difficult enough–– the last thing you want to do when trying to wake up early in the winter is rush around while you’re trying to get ready to go.
Click here for tips on creating a mindful morning routine that can help have a profound effect on how the rest of your day unfolds.
6. Use Caffeine to Your Advantage
If you’re like us, coffee is one of the best parts of waking up early. Consider using caffeine to your advantage, especially during the winter months.
If it’s hard for you to wake up without coffee first thing every morning, consider programming the coffee maker to go off in the morning so it’s ready for you when you wake up. If you’re the pour-over or French press type, set everything out the night before so it’s ready for you when you first wake up. You might consider a bulletproof coffee recipe in the morning to help boost brain function and increase concentration.
If you don’t drink coffee, try green tea. Not only does it contain less caffeine than coffee, but it offers many health benefits and could help improve mental clarity and cognitive function.
If you don’t like caffeine, consider starting your day with a protein drink, superfood smoothie or green juice to offer your body the energy-boosting benefits it needs to wake up early and seize the day.
Don’t be left in the dark this winter. By following these simple tips, you’ll find that waking up early in the winter doesn’t have to be such a drag.
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.