When it comes to sleep, we’re all guilty of not quite racking up the recommended eight hours per night.
After all, despite being well versed in the many benefits of getting enough shut-eye, it can sometimes feel impossible to dedicate a third of our 24 hour day to sleep. It might be because we have problems drifting off, or an ever-moving partner beside us, or it might simply be because we feel we don’t have enough time in our hectic, fast-paced lifestyles to dedicate to being unconscious.
Whatever the reason for not getting enough sleep, or even if you are getting enough but still feel exhausted, there is a simple trick you can do that will immediately improve the quality of your slumber.
And while we usually look to nighttime activities as the key to getting better kip, such as not looking at our phones before bed, this quick fix is something that can be done first thing when you wake up, before your day has even begun.
All you need to do is expose yourself to sunlight.
It might sound obvious, but cracking open the curtains or standing out in the morning light is the most effective way to kickstart your body when you wake up – and the benefits extend right through to the evening.
This is due to the effect that exposure to light has on our circadian rhythm, which is our body’s natural wake-sleep cycle, Inc. reports.
By exposing ourselves to bright light first thing in the morning, we increase our body’s production of the hormone cortisol, which is essential for feeling alert. Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone that is supposed to peak in our bodies when we wake up, while another naturally occurring hormone, called melatonin, is supposed to peak in our bodies at night.
Melatonin encourages our bodies to sleep and it is decreased in the presence of light, which is why it can be so detrimental to look at our phones or watch TV right before we try to fall asleep.
By ending our day in darkness, and starting it with a burst of light, we can sync cortisol and melatonin to be released at the right times, which has a positive effect on both the quality of our sleep and the energy and productivity levels we have throughout the day.
Obviously, here in the UK, we’re used to waking up in darkness throughout the winter months, meaning it can be tricky to expose ourselves to natural sunlight first thing in the morning (it won’t be long before the sun does that great thing where it rises after we reach the office and sets before we’ve left...)
One easy way to fix this is with an LED light box, which can give a burst of light that mimics that of the sun. You can head here for tips on the best type to buy.