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How To Wake Up Feeling Refreshed — Even When It's Dark & Cold Outside

Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
Expert review by
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN
mbg Vice President of Scientific Affairs
Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN is Vice President of Scientific Affairs at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's degree in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia.
Image by ohlamour studio / Stocksy
November 7, 2021

This weekend's daylight saving time change will give us some morning light back, but we all know that winter days can be cool, dark, and downright dreary. The temptation to stay in bed after your alarm goes off is all too real during the season—so we asked board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., about his top tips for waking up refreshed, no matter how dark it is outside. Here's what he said:

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1.

Figure out your sleep chronotype.

First things first: Breus says you'll want to figure out what your "sleep chronotype" is. There are four different sleep chronotypes (Bear, Wolf, Lion, and Dolphin), and you can find out which one you are by taking Breus' chronotype quiz here.

Some types prefer early mornings, while others are more creatures of the night, due to their circadian rhythms. The goal is to understand your unique chronotype so you can go to bed and wake up at a time that suits you best.

2.

Wake up at the same time every day based on your chronotype.

Once you know what your chronotype is, Breus advises waking up every day at the time recommended for that chronotype. "When a person does wake at the specific time allotted to their chronotype, then the melatonin production in their head is already slow, if not stopped," he explains. This will help take sleep inertia, or grogginess that occurs when you wake from deep sleep, out of the equation on dark winter mornings.

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3.

Try a sleep supplement.

If your sleep schedule as a whole could use a helping hand, taking a sleep-supporting supplement before bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay in deep sleep longer.*

In the market for a new one? mindbodygreen's sleep support+ combines highly absorbable magnesium bisglycinate with PharmaGABA®, a neurotransmitter shown in clinical trials to enhance natural sleep quality, and jujube, a fruit used in traditional Chinese medicine for calming, for a supplement that promotes better sleep and more energized mornings all around.*

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4.

Get light within 15 minutes of waking up.

Our circadian rhythm takes cues from light, so Breus says it's important to use that to your advantage in the morning and signal to your body that it's wake-up time. And yes—he adds—it can be artificial light!

In fact, Breus is big on bringing a lightbox with him whenever he travels, noting that it really helps energize him on dark mornings.

5.

Breathe.

Sometimes all you need when you're groggy is a good oxygen boost. Once you roll out of bed, Breus recommends "waking up" your respiratory system as well, with 15 deep breaths to help flood your brain with some oxygen. "It will certainly help," he notes, adding he personally practices the Wim Hof Method on a daily basis.

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6.

Move your body.

While you don't need to do a full-blown workout right when you wake up, Breus says that moving your body in the morning will help get your energy levels up fast, "because it really forces your metabolism to increase in pace quickly."

7.

Hydrate.

Last but certainly not least, hydration is crucial in the mornings. As Breus explains, you lose almost a full liter of water each night while you sleep. "Hydration also gets all your other systems moving, which will help promote more energetic feelings," he notes.

To that end, he recommends reaching for water or other noncaffeinated drinks first thing in the a.m. before switching over to coffee or your energizing beverage of choice.

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The takeaway.

Waking up on cold, dark winter mornings may not be easy, but it is possible—and further, it's possible to make it easier with a few helpful hacks. Having a consistent sleep schedule, knowing your chronotype, and having a quick but effective morning routine to get energized can go a long way toward starting your day off strong.

Sarah Regan
Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.