February 14, 2017 | Categories: Sleep
As the season settles in, dark mornings can feel like an uncomfortable surprise, no matter how many winters you’ve experienced. The northern climes have shorter days than the south, but any changes in natural sunlight and darkness can affect your sleep and energy.
These daily habits can help you feel more awake in the morning, sleep better at night, and have more energy throughout the day, no matter how short the daylight hours become.
Open the Curtains
In mid-fall, it should still be light when you wake up in the morning. Exposing yourself to early morning sunlight helps your body wake up by regulating your biological clock and keeping it on track, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Light Up Your Alarm
If you need a gentle push to rouse you from your warm bed, try an alarm clock that wakes you up with light. These alarms gradually get brighter, mimicking a sunrise. Daily light therapy from an artificial light box might also help those who suffer from depression symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder, according to research published in the International Journal of Disability and Human Development.
Stick to a Routine
Keeping your sleep and wake times the same every day helps your body stay in an ideal sleeping pattern. Your body’s natural rhythms are regulated by darkness and light. As it becomes darker outside, your eyes relay that cue to your brain, telling it to produce melatonin, the hormone that makes your brain and body sleepy. This is why you may feel sleepy in late afternoon or early evening when the sun sets earlier in the winter months, than you did in the summer, when it was lighter for longer, according to the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences.
Embrace the Morning Workout
One study at Appalachian State University found that morning exercisers experienced better, deeper sleep at night. The study participants were ages 40 to 60, and already exercised moderately for 30 minutes, three times a week. The research volunteers walked on a treadmill at 7 a.m., at 1 p.m. and at 7 p.m. The morning exercise routine proved better for reducing blood pressure throughout the day and greater sleep benefits in the evening, according to the study results.
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