To Carpe Diem or Hibernate- That is the Question
Why is it so much harder to get up when it’s still dark outside!?
In the summer, the smallest beam of morning light starts to trickle through the blinds, and I’m gently nudged from sleep. But this time of year when the alarm goes off, it’s like a cruel practical joke. It must be said, I’m not a ‘morning person’ at the best of times, but when it’s still dark when I open my eyes, my brain instantly wants to retreat. The battle begins between my desire to ‘carpe diem’ or to imitate a bear and hibernate for the next 3 months!
You’ve felt it too, right? The pull of the doona for just 5 minutes more? The dark winter mornings are particularly cruel if you have a job, pet or small human that requires you to move before the birds have sung their first note. You are not alone - it's evolution baby! Light controls our sleep-wake cycle and tells us when to get moving so the absence of light does the opposite. You can check out the how’s and why’s here, but today I want to talk about what you can do about it.
How can you overcome your body’s drive to sleep through the dark winter mornings and hit the ground running?!
The answer - light. But not just any light. Blue Light.
We usually get exposed to blue light from the sun. During the day, blue light can improve performance and attention, and set us up for a better night’s sleep.
Blue light at the wrong time of day can wreak havoc on your sleep-wake cycles and make it difficult to drift off. Using Blue light in the morning can suppress your Melatonin release and make you feel awake and alert. So it’s as easy as that - get some light = get some energy.
What? No pill? No complicated routine? What’s the catch?
You see the pitfall though... as we established earlier there is no sun, so how to get access to blue light and the reprieve from the morning slump?
I have been a long time blue light user since my time battling SAD in the northern hemisphere, and as a self-professed sleep nerd, I have tried pretty much all the gadgets. Historically, I would have to sit in front of a little blue light-emitting box for 20-40 minutes each morning, and then come back for my second helping when the postprandial snooziness kicked in. Yes, your math was right - 1 hour and 20 minutes of sitting still per day...who has time for that?
Luckily for us, there have been some pretty big improvements in blue light devices over the last few years, and we now have light therapy glasses. Small and convenient, light glasses are easy to wear while you get on with your day.
From May to September my blue light glasses live on my bedside table. They are the first thing I reach for even before I have turned off my alarm. Because the glasses are hands-free, I can pop them on and start my normal morning routine without missing a beat. By the time I’ve made it to the toaster, I’m starting to get a bit of pep in my step, and as my first morning zoom call kicks off, I am (thankfully) forming coherent thoughts and speaking in full sentences. Success!
As a night owl, my morning wake up will never get confused for that of a Disney princess, but blue light definitely helps me lift the fog and get moving to make the most of these beautiful winter mornings.
If my winter zombie impersonation resonates with you, reach out to our pod team to schedule a trial of a pair of light therapy glasses and reclaim your winter mornings.