How to wake up when it's dark outside

How to wake up when it's dark outside

It’s getting to that time of year when we’re heading off to work in the mornings in the dark and getting home in the dark, too.

Despite this being somewhat depressing (except for the fact it signals Halloween and Christmas are coming), you may have noticed that it also makes it harder to drag yourself out of bed when your alarm goes off.

Part of this is down to the body’s circadian rhythm, which is a roughly 24-hour body clock controlled by the hypothalamus in your brain, which signals when you should be tired and when you should be awake.

Although this is normally hard-wired, darkness can affect it, with our eyes sending a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s night time and therefore time to produce more melatonin (the sleep hormone).

Thankfully, there are ways to effectively trick your brain into more quality sleep and help you feel less tired during these drizzly autumn and winter days – thus making it a bit easier to wake up and get out of bed in the morning.

We spoke to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, Silentnight’s resident sleep expert, to find out how you can beat the heavy-eyed morning commutes at this time of year.

Eat breakfast

There are many great reasons to eat breakfast (including because hash browns exist), and one of them is that it helps you sleep in the evening.

Have some early morning ‘you time’

It may seem counter-productive, but getting up a little bit earlier than normal can actually be beneficial.

Rather than waking up and running off to work, allow yourself that extra time to warm up for the day ahead.

Avoid checking your phone first thing

We’ve chatted before about how blue lights from phones and other devices can disrupt your plans to get to sleep at night.

But did you know they can also screw up how you wake up, causing stress to your brain and stopping the gradual awakening process?

Don’t rely on caffeine

‘Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee’ – recognise that phrase?

As catchy as this might be, it’s a vicious cycle of wakefulness and tiredness that can stop you getting clean sleep you need.

Wind down in the evening

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail, and this is particularly pertinent when it comes to sleep.


Although cold and damp weather can make you want to curl up under your duvet rather than do bicep curls, research suggests that exercise is exactly what you need to sleep longer and better.

While the reasoning behind this is isn’t completely clear, it’s thought that it may have something to do with body temperature and endorphins released during exercise.

So, around 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day has way more benefits that just being able to get up stairs without being out of breath.

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