We all know the pain of waking up in the winter. Every side of the bed is the wrong side. The snooze button seems to be sensitive to the mere thought of hitting it. Dragging yourself out of bed in the deep dark might be the hardest thing you do in a day. What you might not realize is that, by faking the sunrise, you can actually circumvent the most dismal early morning moments of the year. And that’s not the only way a little light can improve your life.
The struggle is real.
You can stop beating yourself up. You’re not just getting lazy. The urge to keep sleeping – especially in the winter – makes sense scientifically. In Western societies, our extensive time spent indoors puts us in a state of light deficiency year-round. For those who prefer to stay inside all winter, it gets even worse. A lack of sufficient outdoor light offsets our circadian rhythms, diminishing sleep quality and causing fatigue. According to Harvard Neuroscientist Anne-Marie Chang, ”light is the most powerful cue for shifting or resetting the time of the circadian clock.” The bad news? It’s probably affecting you. The good news, though, is that you can do something about it.
Supplement the sunrise.
Our inner clocks are naturally synched with the sun. Unlike a jarring alarm clock, a sunrise wakens the body gradually. Instead of waking abruptly to each new day, you can take a more subtle approach. Wake-light alarm clocks mimic the gradual progression from darkness to daylight regardless of what’s happening outside. They’re essential in places where the sun shines for just a short time each day, but sleepers anywhere can enjoy their benefits. If you’re worried that light alone won’t get you to work on time, opt for a model that includes sound. Just like the brightness, the volume can be set to increase gradually for a gentle, easier wake-up.
Supplement your sunlight.
Need to feel better during the day and have more energy in general? There are actually light therapies proven to resolve the biological symptoms of diminished sunlight. Whether you have seasonal affective disorder, a circadian rhythm problem, or just a sense of general malaise, bright-light therapy could help. Though light boxes are available online at any price point, it’s best to explore this type of treatment with the help of a doctor. It’s the only way to ensure you’re getting a quality product that delivers the right level of lumens for the ideal amount of time. The last thing you want to do is overcorrect, sending your circadian rhythms off balance in the opposite direction.
Supplement your Vitamin D.
Another idea to run by your doctor is the addition of Vitamin D to your diet. In times of decreased sunlight, the body is robbed of its natural source of this vital nutrient. Since everyone absorbs the vitamin differently, and because it doesn’t naturally occur in many foods, Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common. Symptoms of insufficient Vitamin D can be vague to acute, and range from fatigue to osteoporosis. To truly diagnose and resolve a Vitamin D deficiency, you’ll need medical testing and the help of your doctor.
Banish blue light.
The rise of handheld devices has had consequences for our sleep, and not in a good way. While it would be great to eliminate use of backlit devices at night altogether, that’s not a realistic option for everyone. By minimizing exposure to blue (short-wavelength) light before bed, you can improve your sensitivity to natural sleep hormones and diminish the impact of light-shedding devices. If you have to keep using your phone or laptop before bed, you can improve your sleep quality by blocking blue light. Wearing a pair of amber glasses is one option, while others prefer to alter their devices using apps or filters.
Better Bed, Better Sleep, Better Days
All the environmental changes in the world won’t make up for a bad bed. If you’re consistently waking up sore or poorly rested, it pays to consider the foundation for your sleep. While your mattress is unlikely to wake you up in the morning, it does have the power to keep you feeling awake and recharged throughout the day. When it’s time to replace your saggy, lumpy, or unsupportive mattress, turn to the sleep experts who can help you get the most out of every night’s sleep. At A Goodnight Sleepstore, we help people throughout the Carolinas find their perfect mattresses. We also connect sleepers across the United States with the guaranteed-best deal on the beds of their dreams. We know that the best part of waking up is not feeling like you need to go back to sleep!