Waking up is hard at the best of times, but on dark winter mornings it's especially tough. Follow this advice to make the winter wake up a little more bearable
Wake up naturally
A 2021 survey of over 1,000 employees by sleep health website Each Night found that people who woke up naturally felt fully awake more quickly than their counterparts who used an alarm, and were 10 per cent more likely to feel well rested throughout the day. They were also more likely to eat a healthy breakfast, exercise more and have a positive outlook.
"Retiring our alarm clocks could help us make a better start to the day"
The key is waking up naturally is to go to bed at a time that allows your body to find its natural—or circadian—rhythm. Turning in at the same time every night will help regulate your body clock.
See the light
Don’t be tempted to lie in bed in the morning, but get out in the sunlight as soon as possible after waking. This will help you feel alert during the day and promote sleepiness at bedtime.
Get out of the house and into the sun in the morning if you can!
The fresh air, smells, physical exercise and the mood boost you get from nature will enhance your sense of wellbeing.
Delay your coffee
Cortisol—your body’s main stress hormone—levels are higher when you wake up, giving us a natural energy boost. Save the caffeine kick until after your morning walk you’re more likely to need it.
Have a cold shower
Yes, we realise dousing yourself with chilly water on a chilly day might not be that appealing, but it could really liven you up in the morning. Let it run cold for a minute and then take the rest of your shower at your usual toasty temperature, or start warm and turn the water to cold at the end.
"Research has suggested cold showers could alleviate depression"
The health benefits? A 2015 Dutch study found that people who had a hot shower followed by up to 90 seconds of a cold shower for 30 days had a 29 per cent drop in work absences through sickness. Other research has suggested cold showers could alleviate depression.
Get moving—but gently
Our body stiffens up as we sleep, so a few stretches to loosen up in the morning will help get you ready for the day ahead.
Some light exercise to start the day can help energise you
Move for 30 minutes first, though, to get blood flowing round your body and your muscles stretching safely. That could be walking or your everyday routine of showering and dressing. Then do a few light stretches—you’ll find plenty of suggestions online.
Have protein for breakfast
Shun sugar which causes blood glucose spikes and embrace protein instead. Switching to breakfasts containing proteins and wholegrains will keep you fuller for longer, giving you energy and making you less tempted to snack before lunch.
"Shun sugar which causes blood glucose spikes and embrace protein instead"
Eggs on wholemeal toast and porridge are ideal. Pour skimmed milk on and add fruit to your breakfast oats (no sugar needed).
Read more: Should we embrace bi-phasic sleep?
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