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Sleep Expert Shares Tips on How to Cope with Darker Mornings and Shorter Days

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October marks the month of the clocks changing, with them set to move one hour back on Sunday, 30th October. With this shift declaring the official start of Winter, shorter days and darker mornings are upon us. While we won’t see many complaints about the extra hour in bed, it does mean the body will need some time to adjust.

A scientific study by Sleep Medicine Reviews concluded that a seemingly small one-hour shift in the sleep cycle could affect sleep for up to one week. It also finds that early risers are negatively impacted by the darker mornings the most. 

Although the seasons changing is inevitable, there are some things you can do to keep your mental well-being and energy levels uplifted. 

Sleep expert and CEO of Ethical Bedding, James Higgins, shares his top tips on ensuring you can get a good night’s rest and get up easily.

Don’t make any adjustments to your sleep schedule 

It might be tempting to go to bed later when the clocks return, but keeping your sleep schedule the same all year round is important. The more consistency your brain has with sleeping times, the better nights sleep you are likely to get.

Be sure to go to bed at your usual time, and it’s important not to push your sleep schedule back or forward for the seasons to change.

Leave four hours between eating and sleeping 

A good night’s rest is made up of both internal and external factors. External factors such as noise levels, comfortability and space cannot always be controlled – although internal factors such as your eating habits can.

When you eat before bed, your body is in the process of digesting the food when it’s time to sleep. Your body is like a machine and cannot rest if the cogs are still turning.

Your body ideally needs a four-hour gap between eating and sleeping to fully digest and be ready to relax. However, eating right before bedtime can be hard to relax your body and even result in broken sleep throughout the night.

Don’t keep the bedroom too hot or too cold 

We all know the dreaded feeling of getting up early on a cold winter’s day, and the solace of warm bed sheets will feel all too alluring. If you’re struggling with a cold bedroom, try placing your socks and dressing gown next to your bed so you can easily get dressed without braving the cold air.

In contrast, sleeping in a very warm environment or an overly warm duvet tog can interrupt your sleep and create a bad sleeping environment for your body. Excess heat makes the body lethargic as it relaxes the muscles, something you will want to avoid when motivating yourself to get out of bed. If you’re unsure what duvet tog you should use, it might be time to do a little research, depending on your sleep style.

Turn on the lights as soon as you wake up

As the morning comes around, it will feel like you’re still meant to be asleep during the dark months. An easy hack to mitigate this sensation is turning on your bedside lamp or main light as soon as you wake up. This forces the brain to acknowledge that sleeping time has ended and will begin the process of waking up.

Drink a full glass of water when you wake up

Drinking water as soon as you wake up will help stimulate the body and help you stay awake in the early morning hours. For example, you could fill up glass the night before and have it ready for yourself to drink when you wake up, or you can challenge yourself and leave an empty glass next to your bed that you would need to get up and fill the next day. 

Drinking a full glass of water when you wake up is a great lubricant for the brain and hydrates the body, but it also starts the digestive system, bringing the body natural energy to get started. 

Get active

Finally, it might seem like a cliche, but that’s because it’s true – exercising in the morning will most certainly kick-start your body. The endorphins will not only positively impact your brain and natural energy, and exercise is proven to help you sleep better at night, thus creating a positive circle to your daily winter routine. It doesn’t need to be strenuous, but it’s important to get the blood flowing.

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