11 ways to cope with the dark mornings

Looking for how to wake yourself up in the mornings? Even when it's dark and cold outside and all you want to do is hide under the duvet? Here are some ways to cope with the dark winter mornings...

rosemary
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Looking for how to wake yourself up in the mornings? Even when it's dark and cold outside and all you want to do is hide under the duvet? Here are some ways to cope with the dark winter mornings...

There really isn't much worse than being rudely awoken by your alarm in the morning to a pitch black room. And although there are lots of things to look forward to in the autumn and winter months, waking up on a dark morning certainly isn't one of those.

In fact, it's reported that only 10% of us Brits would class ourselves as a 'lark' - e.g. someone who has no problem jumping out of bed in the early morning and getting on with the day. For the rest of us - especially the night owls among us - it can be a much harder challenge, and that's only made worse in the bleak days of winter, when we get up and return home from work in the darkness.

But if you find yourself looking more like the walking dead than fresh as a daisy on a dark morning, then we're here to help.

We've put together this guide which will help you to get a great quality night's sleep and make waking up on those depressing mornings that little bit more bearable. Plus we've thrown in a few tricks on how to wake yourself up when you're at your groggiest, even before the sun has woken up itself.

Whether it's the getting out of bed that you struggle with the most, or whether you just can't seem to wake up properly until lunchtime, we've got some great tricks for making you feel more awake and alert quicker.

While everyone else is still hiding under the covers, you'll be feeling more awake in no time - even when it still feels like it's night time outside!

How to wake yourself up on cold dark mornings

Take Rosemary oil

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With the dark mornings getting more and more dreary by the day, having a natural alternative to reaching straight for the coffee is a great way feel more awake and ready for the day.

Rosemary oil not only smells lovely, but the natural product is a great way to reinvigorate the senses and perk you up. Try keeping some of it in a little bottle by your bed which you can have a long, deep inhale of in the mornings.

Best not to use this one in a diffuser, if the aroma is in your bedroom at night it could have the effect of keeping you awake! But how about keeping a little tissue soaked in the smell in your handbag to perk you up during the day? Or dabbing a little on the insides of your wrists or on your neck so the fragrance will linger throughout the day?

Its refreshing properties are even said to be good for poor circulation, and the best news? You can buy a bottle of pure oil for just £2.54 from Holland & Barrett (opens in new tab), so give it a go for a serious lift tomorrow morning!

Let some light into your life

A woman outside in the light on a winter's day

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As tempting as it is to stay buried under the covers in a dark little place where no one can find you, the quicker you get the lights on the quicker your body will know it's time to get up. Don't be tempted to just put the lights on dimly, this will only prolong your feelings of sleepiness. Flood the room with light, as painful as it might seem - it will help.

If you really struggle with this, or, of course, on those dark mornings, there are some clever night light products - or light therapy devices - you can buy which work on a timer and gradually get lighter and lighter until it's time to get up. It's also then not your torturous decision to turn the light on - genius!

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects around two million people in the UK every winter, and can leave you dealing with very real problems, such as overeating, depression, and brain fog. But letting the light into your room, either by using a light therapy device or artificial light, can really help tackle the problem, by alerting the brains cortisol awakening response, therefore getting it ready for the day.

Eat an apple!

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Apples are truly amazing for picking you up in the morning. They're high in natural sugars which wake you up, but the real benefits of an apple in the morning is that the energy they give you is slow moving, gradually waking up your whole body. Plus you won't get the tiring crash that you get after having a coffee or eating sweets.

Oh, and they're healthy too!

Drink as much water as possible

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Ahh is there nothing water can't do? There are not one, not two, but three ways this magical fluid could help you here:

1) Drink a glass of cold water as soon as you get up. Water refreshes the system, speeds up metabolism, rehydrates you and helps to make you feel more alert.

2) Now we realise that a cold shower on a dark and dreary morning doesn't exactly sound ideal, but try washing your face with some cool water as soon as you wake up, or place your wrists under a running tap. Not only will the shock of the temperature change perk you up, but bathing in cold water boosts circulation.

3) A pretty handy trick for getting you up in the morning is to drink a glass of water before bed and it should get you up (and out of bed relatively quickly) to go for a wee in the morning!

Silence the snorer in your life

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If you've any hope of waking up refreshed on a dark cold morning there's one thing for sure that's just GOT to go; the snoring partner. OK, we're not suggesting you get rid of him completely, but perhaps addressing his snoring problems would make a good start to getting you some quality shut eye when you most need it. Read our top tips for getting him to stop snoring.

Make sure your kids sleep through the night too

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Anything you can do to keep the kids in bed throughout the night will be a huge bonus. Try and think of ways you can tire them out during the day so that by nightfall, they're ready to hit the hay. It's tricky when the weather's colder and going outdoors is not an option, but anything physical is sure to do the trick. How about holding a dance competition in your living room? Or hide some of their favourite objects around the house and get them to hunt around for them? Be inventive and wear those children out!

Eat a high protein breakfast

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What could possibly be better at getting you out of bed than a cooked breakfast? OK, so unfortunately you might be making it yourself but even so, a hearty breakfast is great for perking you up in the morning, even when it's still dark outside.

A good breakfast will replenish your body after the long period of not eating, and improve your mood for the rest of the day.

Protein improves brain function and helps you feel more alert, so get cracking those eggs ladies!

Get some Vitamin D

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During the winter months when we see less sunlight, we get a lot less vitamin D. Something as simple as taking a supplement when you wake up in the mornings can help improve your mood and perk you up. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with sleep disorders, so giving yours a boost should help you get a better quality of sleep at night, too.

goodtoknow tip: Take them in the morning as soon as you wake up, not before bed as this could disturb your sleep pattern.

Don't let your pet disturb your sleep

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It's not just the kids and the snoring partner that may be disturbing your sleep, how many of us that own dogs and cats end up being woken up by the rascals in the night? Make sure you always let little Rex or Felix out to do their business before you head up to bed. Trust us, if you don't you'll regret it when they start scratching on your bedroom door at 3am.

Oh and no matter how cute their puppy dog eyes may be, DON'T have them in the bed with you. Every movement they make will disturb your well-deserved slumber.

Change your bedtime

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In preparation for waking up in the dark, try and get to bed that little bit earlier, so you can sneak in some extra shut eye and feel more refreshed when you wake up. Try going to bed just 10 or 15 minutes earlier than usual each week, so you gradually tune your body into an earlier bedtime routine. Oh and try it with the kids too!

Make sure to maintain your body temperature

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There's nothing worse than drawing your knees up shivering because you're too cold in bed! If this sounds like you, it's time you took control of your body temperature when you're in bed.

Our temperature drops while we sleep, so you'll be more prone to feeling a chill or draft in bed during the winter months. Invest in a winter duvet, which are thicker and warmer than a standard one. Some come in 2 halves, so you can have a lighter one in the summer and thicker one during the colder months.

If you still find the thought of getting into a cold bed too traumatic, how about taking a hot water bottle to bed? Or getting an electric blanket that works on a timer? Or simply having a warming drink before lights out?

And keep those shoulders covered with a T-shirt rather than a strap top. At least then if your cover-hogging partner pulls the covers away you won't be chilly around your neck and shoulders!

Wake up at the same time everyday

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It might sound torturous, but it's a great way to make the dark early morning wake up calls that little bit less painful. Recently, there's been proven evidence to suggest that waking up around the same time every single day - yes, that includes the weekends - can help us have better sleep overall, and therefore make it easier to wake up feeling well rested.

The science behind it is that our bodies follow a natural circadian rhythm, and put simply, it works best when we have a set sleep time, rather than waking up at all sorts of different times.

Lifestyle Writer

Gemma Chandler is a lifestyle writer specialising in kids' educational media across a range of topics including nature, history, science and geography across digital, print, social media and video channels. She joined Creature & Co. at 2015, shortly becoming Digital Editor of National Geographic Kids magazine.