The days are quickly getting darker and shorter. It’s tempting to stay cuddled in bed longer in the mornings. After all, if there’s no sun, is it even the morning? Your circadian rhythm dictates your sleep-wake cycle, but it also contributes to your mood and behavior.
As we delve deeper into the winter months, taking care of your circadian rhythm is incredibly important. We all know that not sleeping enough is unhealthy, but oversleeping can lead to physical and mental side effects like depression and impaired fertility.
Here’s how to take care of your circadian rhythm for the next few months so you come out of winter feeling rejuvenated and mentally sound.
Wake Up, Get Up
The first thing most of us do when we wake up without an alarm is check the time. Did we oversleep? Or did we wake up before we were supposed to? If you find yourself awake earlier than anticipated, do not go back to sleep!
Getting up when you naturally awake, provided you’ve slept at least seven hours, helps keep your circadian rhythm in check. However, if you’re up a lot earlier than you need to be, going back to sleep might be necessary to ensure you’re getting enough R.E.M sleep.
Once you’ve gotten enough sleep and decided to wake up, you need to physically get out of bed. The longer we lounge in bed awake, the more our brain associates being awake with being in bed. This will make it harder to fall asleep in the evening.
Invest in a Sun Lamp
A sun lamp simulates real sunlight and is used to treat seasonal affective disorder and sleep disorders, along with depression and dementia. If the lack of light is messing with your sleep schedule, investing in a sun lamp might help you feel like you aren’t living in darkness.
Switching on a sun lamp in the wee hours of the morning can help wake you up and feel a little more optimistic and ready to start the day. There are even light therapy alarm clocks that slowly get brighter as your wake-up time nears.
Stick to Your Schedule
It is very tempting to change your schedule and wake up later in the winter months. The sun isn’t getting up early, so why should you? Sticking to a routine is essential to maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm.
Since it gets dark earlier, you might want to start getting ready for bed at six or seven o’clock. Everyone loves getting into their pj’s and sliding into bed, but you should avoid doing this too early in the evening. What time did you use to get ready for bed a few months ago? Try to stick to that time.
The Realities of Seasonal Depression
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression, can be quite trying. It’s difficult to spend less time in daylight, and the transition from summer to winter can hit some individuals quite hard.
Slipping into bad sleeping habits is easy to do but hard to come out of. But gentle but firm with yourself.
If you find your mood slipping for several days at a time, you should speak to your general practitioner or mental health professional. There’s no shame in asking for help, especially when your mind is struggling.
- Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD): What You Should Know
- How Circadian Rhythm Affects Cortisol and Melatonin: Plant-Based Recipes and Tips
- Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Combat it
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