During winter, when the mornings are dark and cold, even the best intentions to get up and get your workout done can be thwarted by the warmth of your doona and the proximity of your snooze button. Thankfully, if you’re not a morning person, there are 5 simple strategies you can use to wake up early in the morning, despite the winter chill!
It’s not rocket science, but if you need to set an alarm to wake up early every morning, there’s a good chance that you, along with up to 35% of all adults in Australia, are chronically sleep deprived. The fact is, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function effectively and if you’re getting the amount of sleep you need, your body should awaken naturally without any need for alarms. Work backwards from your wake-up time and make sure you are tucked up in bed at least 8 hours before you need to be up!
Our internal circadian rhythms naturally align with the daylight cycle so that when the sun comes up, our bodies produce cortisol to get us up and moving . In the evening, melatonin helps us wind us down for the night. With the invention of artificial light, we’ve lost our connection to those rhythms. The good news is that just as you can use artificial light to stay up later at night, you can also use it to help you wake up in the morning, especially in winter when the sun is sometimes up after you are. Turn on a light the very second you wake up before you have time to talk yourself out of it!
Besides darkness, the other big challenge in the morning in winter is the cold, and more specifically, the temperature gap between your bed and the outside world. Getting out from under the covers is a whole lot easier when you close that gap. You might set your alarm a little earlier to give you time to flick on a heater (when you also flick on the light!), or set an electronic timer to turn the heater on half an hour before you need to wake up.
Psychologically, we are far more likely to keep a promise to a friend than we are to keep our commitments to ourselves, so arranging to meet a buddy at the gym or booking an early session with your personal trainer can be the extra motivation you need to get up and moving in winter. If you have a friend who also struggles waking up early, take turns sending each other a wake-up reminder.
Proximity is everything. You want your preferred option (gym gear) close by and in full view, while the non-preferred option (snooze button) should be out of reach or in another room so that you physically have to get up and turn it off. For most people, it’s getting up that is the hardest part, but once you’re up and moving it’s a lot easier to stay out of bed. If there is even the slightest chance you might crawl back under the covers, splash some water on your face and get those runners on your feet before your brain has time to wake up and hit you with excuses.
Written by Cassandra Dunn - a dual-qualified Clinical & Coaching Psychologist and the owner of Living Wise Psychology. She is an experienced meditator with over 15 years of meditation practice, and is trained to teach the world-renowned Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy course. She draws on both eastern wisdom and western psychology to help her clients create their most happy, fulfilled and inspired lives.