Still waking up to an alarm? Here’s why you should use light instead

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This story is part of 12 days tipshelping you make the most of your technology, home, and health during the holiday season.

Most of us know this all too well – that painful feeling when the alarm goes off long before you’re ready to wake up. No matter how many times you snooze, it still leaves you half-awake — no less confused, just a little more stimulated.

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This difficult routine never gets easier because it works against the human body The natural way to wake up. Our lifestyles may rely less on natural light than at any time in history, but our bodies are still stubbornly dependent on it.

Since then, have you noticed that you are ready for bed earlier? There is a reason for that. Whether we like it or not, light and darkness play an important role in our sleep-wake cycle. This means you can use the morning light to help you wake up more easily.

Let’s see how light interacts with your body (it can even be therapeutic!) and how you can use real and simulated natural light to ease your day.

Alina Bradford contributed to this article.

How to wake up with light

Before you use sunlight for morning light therapy, there are a few steps you can take to use sunlight (and some artificial aids) to increase your chances of waking up naturally without a regular alarm. Here are some steps you can take to lean on the light in the morning:

  1. Leave your curtains open to let in the light as the sun rises. As tempting as these blackout curtains may be, they can interfere with your body’s natural rhythm. Unless you need them to work a night shift, leave your curtains open and let the sunrise work its magic on your brain.
  2. Use a sunrise alarm clock to mimic natural light. Not all alarm clocks rely on traditional loud, annoying sounds to get you out of bed. The sunrise alarm simulates natural daylight, giving you an answer The effect is similar to sunlight in the morning And stimulate that morning serotonin surge. These can come in handy if you have to wake up before sunrise. particle for direct objectLumie Shine 300 body watch, Casper shines light And Philips wake-up smart night light There are some great options
  3. Go outside in the early morning sun for 30 to 45 minutes an hour after waking up. We touched on this point above, but we’ll reiterate it here. Remember, no sunglasses, no windows and no clips. Just unfiltered sunlight, even when it’s cloudy, you’ll still get the benefits of morning sunlight.

How to get more exposure to light during the day

Daylight is crucial to your body’s internal sleep clock, not to mention your mental health. That’s why it’s important to find ways to make sure it’s part of your routine.

Plan morning walks or a leisurely morning on the patio. Open the shades and let in plenty of natural light in the morning. If this is difficult to do or you rise before the sun, you can try a light box. these are the most effective for 20-30 minutes and with about 10,000 lux bright light. However, be sure to discuss it with your doctor before using a light box.

A good night’s rest always makes waking up easier, but it starts long before you hit the pillow. Exposure to sunlight and artificial forms of daylight, especially in the morning, can establish healthy rhythms and adjust your body to wake up naturally and calmly each day.

The connection between light and your circadian rhythm

Like most living things, we humans have an internal clock that regulates us Sleep and wake cycles. this Biological clock It is tied to circadian rhythms, which are different physical, mental and behavioral changes that occur based on it Day and night cycle.

I mean your body He answers differently Depending on the time of day, especially after waking up and usually before going to bed. Studies show that our brain is usually sensitive to light from 2 hours before sleep to about an hour after waking up.

Later in the day, when it’s dark outside, your body produces more melatoninwhich is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. When melatonin production increases, your body naturally goes into a state of rest.

During the day, your body suppresses melatonin production. During the night, when light exposure is minimized, melatonin production can be just as high Three to 10 times Exposure to light during the night, especially when you normally sleep, can block melatonin production and make it harder for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. can also Disrupt your sleep cyclelimits your time in deep sleep, which is very important to restore your body and mind.

How sunlight affects your brain

Although these circadian rhythms are influenced by many aspects of our behavior and daily patterns, none is more important than light. For most of human history, our bodies have relied on the simple rhythm of waking up in sunlight and sleeping in darkness.

Even when your eyes are closed, photoreceptors in the retina can sense the presence of sunlight, which causes your brain to start waking up. Melatonin production decreases and your body begins to increase the production of other hormones serotonin And Cortisol. These hormones are associated with important aspects of our waking routine, such as mood and alertness.

Our brains are so dependent on sunlight that lack of exposure to it can disrupt our sleep cycles and cause mental health issues like depression and other mood disorders. During the winter, approx 5% of adults In the United States there is increasing experience of these problems, a phenomenon known as seasonal affective disorder.

Read more: According to our ancestors, how can we sleep better?

Benefits of light therapy

Because of the important connection between light and our brain, scientists have experimented with different ways to use sunlight and artificial light to treat certain mental health conditions. This practice, known as light therapyis still relatively new and many of its benefits are still being studied.

Treatment times vary by individual and condition, but light therapy sessions typically involve about 30 minutes of direct light exposure. Depending on the subject, some people may benefit from full-spectrum sunlight (or synthetic equivalent) or targeted exposure to specific parts of the light spectrum. For example, green light may help treat migraines, while some evidence suggests that red light may help treat ulcers.

Generally, light therapy It may help patients who suffer from:

These benefits of light therapy are promising. However, as with any treatment, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting. Light therapy may not work well if you have vision-related conditions, suffer from photosensitivity or bipolar disorder, or take certain medications.

Read more: Trouble sleeping? Try these 6 natural remedies

Morning light therapy

Young woman waking up with sunlight

Oscar Wang/Getty Images

As mentioned above, our body is most sensitive to light from about 2 hours before sleep to about an hour after waking up. Because of this natural cycle, light therapy is usually most effective when administered early in the morning, within the first hour after waking up.

Although you can use a lightbox to do this (more on that below), your best bet for this is light in the morning Direct exposure to sunlight, especially through the eyes and not through windows or sunglasses. No, that doesn’t mean you have to stare at the sun. Simply go for a walk or sit on your porch to soak up the sun’s rays. Getting outside for 30 to 45 minutes to get some unfiltered sunlight in the morning can help your body wake up and create a better, more consistent sleep-wake cycle.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.

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