Daylight savings time is ending and we’re about to fall back into brighter mornings (for now) and much darker nights. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be cloudy, rainy, or even…snowy when we open our eyes. Fall and winter are a time in many areas where the sun doesn’t wake up for a while, if at all.
So the solution is this: wake up when the sun doesn’t.
Yeah, yeah I realize that our whole bodies are built around the rhythm of the sun. I know it’s hard to wake up in the dark. I know it’s hard to keep working even when the sun is out.
For a change…let’s look at why we don’t like to get up when the sun doesn’t.
Well, there is one major thing that really works against us. It’s our circadian rhythm. When the light isn’t shining in the morning, it’s practically like no one is home in our head! Our bodies our sluggish. Our mind just won’t work. So when we get up and it’s dark out, we struggle.
That’s reason number one.
It’s demotivating. Looking outside and seeing no sun, the rain, clouds, fog, or some other unfavorable weather condition makes us want to crawl back in bed. We don’t want to get wet or exercise outside or drive through those conditions. It saps our motivation. If we add cold weather to the mix, now we don’t want to leave the warm bed.
Which brings me to the next point. Bed is so comfy! Sleeping is oftentimes comfortable. It’s supposed to be. However, our daily life isn’t. We face fears, we put our bodies under stress (working out), and we exercise our mind with each decision we make. Getting out of bed means starting a long shift of being uncomfortable. And deep down, no one wants to do that.
And on top of that, most of us don’t get enough sleep. Unfortunately, we all operate on different amounts of sleep. I need eight but I used to need more than nine when I was recovering from severe, long-term sleep deprivation and my eating disorder. Now, I just need a solid eight and I’m good to go…most days. On hard workout days and weeks, I need more.
Most of us don’t really listen to our body on this one so getting up, especially on a dark day, feels impossible. Little tip before we move on: Prioritize sleep.
And I mean that.
But in the end, there are a million and two reasons why we don’t get out of bed, struggle to get out of bed, or snooze too long on dark days. The bottom line is that we just don’t want to wake up. Mentally and physically everything is telling us it’s time to sleep.
So what in the world can we do to combat this?
Turn on a light.
First thing you do when you wake up should be to switch on a light. And I mean first thing. Now we can’t always do this because our waking times might not match up with our partner’s waking time but if at all possible, wake up and flip on a light. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bedside light or a switch to some bright overhead light. The point is to switch on a light and set up our circadian rhythm. Get the chemicals keeping you sleepy out of there and the change the shifts in your head. Think of it as the morning crew coming in to relieve the graveyard shift.
This helps because it’s like turning on our brain. Walking around in the dark, making coffee in the dark or a dim light, getting dressed in a dim room doesn’t help us at all. It only hurts us. So flip on a light. Tell your body to wake up. You have this much under control so use it! Use what control you do have in the morning.
This one is just terrible, I’m aware. But it’s an important one. That sleep you’re getting when you snooze? No good. It’s interrupted sleep which means it isn’t quality and it’s not doing anything for you. But I’m not telling you not to sleep that long, just not to press the snooze button. Keep your alarm farther away from you so that you have to get up and walk over to it. No fun, I know. But in the long run, you’ll be waking up on time, getting better sleep, and knowing that the darkness doesn’t impact your drive.
This trick helps because it’s promising you’ll have longer, quality sleep instead of shorter, interrupted sleep. What this helps guarantee is that you’ll be more focused, more able to push yourself, and less fatigued when you do get up. So, getting up may actually be easier.
Bite the bullet and just get up. Life isn’t about being comfortable and giving into our mind every time we feel discomfort. Get up. Exercise. Meditate. Exist. It’s good to be uncomfortable. It’s good to have to work through something. If you do it enough, eventually it doesn’t even feel that bad. But the point is that you have to do it. Willpower is a muscle too and if you don’t work it, you can’t work it.
Force yourself up and out of bed. Force yourself to quickly get ready. Force yourself to go to the gym, go run, roll out your yoga mat. Force yourself to live a life you’re proud of.
What it gets down to is this:
Yes, waking up when the sun isn’t out is extremely hard. But what’s harder, forcing yourself to get up, get going, and workout or living with the fact that you gave up because the conditions weren’t perfect? What does that say?
To me (and I’ve thought about this a lot), is that I’m a fair-weather practitioner. It means I won’t do anything unless the conditions are perfect. I won’t face life unless it’s absolutely perfect for me. And I do not want to be that kind of person.
So when it’s pretty grey and gross out, I force myself up. I get going. And I feel amazing because of it. You should too.