For people in the evening, the alarm always goes off very early, but on dark winter days it is much more difficult to get out of bed. How do you ensure that you start your day actively?
Do you feel energetic and fit in the morning? Or are you a night owl who would rather turn around again? Your biological clock controls how active you are. This watch doesn’t quite match up to the real day, says Marijke Gordin. She conducts research on the body clock at the University of Groningen. “In some cases, your internal clock is farther a step away than in others. If you don’t get it right, your biological clock sends you to bed later and later and you wake up later.”
“By turning the lights on at night, we turn back the clock a little bit,” Gordin says. “In the summer which is not so bad, there is already so much sunlight in the morning that the clock is corrected again and you can wake up easily. But in the dark winter you miss this compensation, it becomes difficult to wake up and the circadian clock changes even more. As a result, you go to Bed later in the evening and wake up late the next morning.”
This cycle can be broken, says the sleep expert: Make sure you get a good amount of light during the day, especially in the morning. Especially now that we work a lot from home. Put your desk by the window and look outside every now and then. Or better yet, go outside. “Even on a gray day, there is up to a hundred times more intense light than indoor light.” Being outside also means you’re moving, says psychologist Lidewy Hendriks, and this helps you become energetic. “Even if you go out in the morning in your morning training pants to walk the dog, you can still breathe fresh air and you’ve crossed the threshold.”
Gordon says you can get extra energy from blue light. Your eyes contain cells that are sensitive to blue light. When they get, they send signals to the parts of the brain that control our sleep and wake patterns, which determine how active you are. That blue light is always in white light.” In the evenings you should provide less light. Jordyn: “Through this variety, you strengthen your body’s 24-hour rhythm. Make sure your body knows it’s two to three hours before bedtime. Dim the lights, reduce screen time, use at least a black background and keep cell phones away from your face.”
The rhythm in which you maintain consistent sleep and wake times is important anyway, Hendricks says. “Don’t stay in bed on dark days. Then you screw up the whole thing.” A wake-up light can be helpful in waking up, a lamp that lights up gradually half an hour before the alarm goes off. “There are studies that have shown that people feel fit faster if they wake up with a wake-up lamp,” says Gordin. “Light makes your body produce more cortisol, which is the hormone that makes you alert. But that light is not strong enough to correct your biological clock.”
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