My first thought as daylight savings approaches each fall or spring - “Shoot, do I gain an hour or lose an hour of sleep this time?”
That’s oversimplifying it though, as the real problem relates more broadly to how the changing of the seasons affects the availability of daylight. The feeling of lethargy from waking up in the dark takes a toll on us humans both mentally and physiologically.
I used to always joke that I had self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder (SAD). However, this may not be far from the truth as SAD is most often attributed to the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter, and how this decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) and lead to feelings of depression.
In other words, if you’re working out in the sunlight during the summer - either in the early morning or evening - you’re getting all of the biological benefits to your circadian rhythm in that process. As we move into the winter - you’re not…
So what do you do about this? Well the logical explanation might be to push back your wake up time to be in line with when the sun rises, but of course this isn’t a realistic option for most people as we either need to get kids off to school, or be at work by a certain time, etc. That said, if you’ve got some wiggle room in your schedule, it’s worth a try.
While it’s not a perfect replacement, another option is to get yourself a sunlight alarm clock that mimics the sun rise. From my experience, it does do a nice job waking you up gradually, but you’ll still be left switching lights on throughout your house and fumbling through the dark.
What you should try and do, is make sure you get your sunlight whenever you can, but preferably as early in the day as possible. For example, I’ve spoken with friends from Anchorage who informed me that it's very commonplace for Alaskans to leave the office during the middle of the day and go for a walk - this is the best, right option for them, seeing how little daylight they have during the winter.
It may always be more of a challenge waking up, and finding motivation in the dark cold days of winter, but having a plan in place can certainly help put you back in control. Good luck in finding your routine.