How to Rise and Shine When It's Dark outside; Rest Assured: Our Expert Tips Can Help

Article excerpt

Byline: JASMINE GARDNER

DURING the short winter days, getting up at 7am to face a cold, dark room can be one of the day's most arduous tasks and hitting the snooze button one of the easiest. We asked the experts to give us their advice on how to get out of bed on the right side.

LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE

Angela Clow, professor of psychophysiology at the University of Westminster, says: "We detect light even when we are sleeping. It triggers the release of cortisol, the hormone that causes a burst of activity in the morning."

Wake up with: A Lumie Bodyclock.

These daylight simulators will wake you up with a 30-minute sunrise. From [pounds sterling]48.89, 01954 780500, www.lumie.com.

GET YOUR BLOOD FLOWING

"The first stretch you do in the morning is the key to getting you out of bed," says Carl McCartney, national group exercise manager for Virgin Active.

"Stretching will increase your heart rate and lengthen your muscles, which contract during your sleep."

Wake up with: A flex and rotation of your hands and feet. It will stimulate blood flow to your extremities and get the blood pumping all around your body.

EAT TO SLEEP

Nutritionist Josephine Ng recommends avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evenings. "Having a hangover definitely won't help you get up," says Ng. "And don't go to bed hungry or with a full stomach as the discomfort of either will keep you awake."

Wake up with: Carbohydrates in your evening meal. Carbohydrates carry serotonin to your brain, helping you to sleep so you'll be wide awake the next day.

COUNT YOUR SLEEP CYCLES

Your body goes through a series of 90-110 minute cycles as you sleep. It is best to wake up during the transitions between cycles, when your sleep is lightest. "Set your bedtime by tracking back five lots of 90 minutes from the time you want to wake up and then add a bit of time to fall asleep," says Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre. …