The days are getting shorter, and now most of us in the U.S. have just set our alarms backward an hour. Not only is the amount of light throughout the day getting shorter, but depending on your schedule, you may find yourself having to wake up while it’s still dark out too. If you’re like me, this makes the whole waking-up-with-energy concept much more difficult.
Regarding sleep, an interesting study came out a little while back and got a lot of publicity in articles claiming that we only need 5.7 to 7.1 hours of sleep. The study followed a few groups of hunter-gatherers and measure their sleep cycles, and in reality showed that the hunter-gatherers typically laid down to rest for roughly 8 hours, similar to the duration generally recommended for people today. Like most of today’s industrial societies, there was some waking up throughout the night and general tossing and turning, which made the true measured duration a shorter range of 6-7 hours.
Although the short sleep duration numbers received all the publicity, one of the most interesting takeaways from this article was the signals for people waking up naturally (aka, without an alarm clock). Most of us would assume sunlight was the main factor, the most direct marker for the three groups of hunter-gatherers waking was actually the outside temperature. It was the warming temperature that tended to signal people to wake: when the temperature stayed cooler, people wanted to stay in bed longer. And even for the pre-industrial societies, people wanted to sleep longer in winter than in summer.
So what’s the takeaway if you want to wake up with energy even during the colder winter months? Well here are a few ideas to use our current technologies and hack this dilemma:
1. Get an alarm clock that lights up to wake you up.
There are alarm clocks that simulate the sunlight in the morning that can help fake us out and make us think the sun’s coming out. These range in their brightness and effectiveness, but they can make a difference. Check out this one if you’re looking for one.
2. Don’t hit the snooze.
Try and wake up at a consistent time in the morning and allow your sleep cycle to regulate to this duration. Letting yourself go back to sleep for just a few more minutes will not only throw off your body’s rhythm, but it will also likely have you waking up mid-sleep cycle, dramatically increasing your likelihood of waking up groggy.
3. Use temperature to your advantage.
Again, the strongest signals for the hunter-gatherers were temperature. A decreasing temperature signaled bed time. And a rising temperature meant waking up. Try using your fan or A/C to cool down the room if you need to, and then possibly have some heat come on in the morning to wake you up. If you don’t have a thermostat you can program on a timer, consider grabbing a programmable heater online and then either using its timer or using an plug-in timer to have it come on in the morning.
Sleep is one of the most critical components of our health and having the energy we need to achieve our goals. Eating and exercising the right way are some others. Check out one of our comprehensive programs to learn how to effectively manage all of these components and meanwhile accomplish your weight loss, strength gain, or muscle-toning goals.