Rise and Shine! (Sort Of)
As the U.S. transitions to fall, early risers may not be able to rise and shine as easily as they once did.
The reason is simple: Our days are shorter, darker and colder in the fall and winter. And although the end of daylight saving time adds a little more sunlight to our mornings, the early darkness and chill make it difficult for some to get up and start the day.
Scientifically speaking, we’re sleepier when it’s dark outside because of our circadian rhythms, our internal system that tells us when to wake and when to sleep. Almost every organism, according to the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, has a circadian rhythm of some type. For humans, our circadian rhythms are triggered by hormones and genetics, and external factors such as light and temperature.
So for those chilly, dark mornings when you just don’t want to get out of bed, here are a few ways to use those external cues to trigger your body into wake-up mode.
Bright lights: Perhaps the biggest player in our circadian rhythms is light. Humans are biologically primed to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light out. Studies have shown that the human body reacts to darkness by releasing melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. The fastest way to wake up on a dark morning is to trick your brain into thinking it’s not dark. Some people use sunlight lamps and light boxes to help them wake up and beat back seasonal depression.
Hydration: According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, dehydration can lead to moodiness and fatigue. So when you wake up groggy after a long night of sleep, that sandpapery feeling on your tongue could be the reason. Doctors recommend drinking anywhere from 9 to 13 cups of water throughout the day, according to the Mayo Clinic—and chugging one of those cups early in the morning helps boost metabolism, trigger adrenaline, and ultimately get you out of bed, as this Business Insider article notes.
Temperature: If you’ve ever had difficulty waking up on cold mornings, this won’t come as a surprise: Cold temperatures induce sleepiness, while hot temperatures prevent people from sleeping, according to a study in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. Turning up the thermostat before bed or sleeping with extra layers might become uncomfortable and make staying asleep difficult. But drinking a hot beverage immediately upon waking is one effective way to boost your body temperature, says a study published in Acta Physiologica. Set your coffee timer in the morning for a wake-up call that’s warm and delicious.
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