It may happen every year, but the recent change in weather still has us crying out in unison: “What is this fresh hell!?” Compared to the dreamy heatwave of summer 2018, the darkening, cold, autumnal mornings of late feel unbearable.
If, like us, you’re struggling to detach yourself from your duvet before work, help is at hand. We asked experts for their top tips on embracing the change in season and starting the day with a spring in your step.
1. Begin your routine the night before 🌙
In order to wake up full of beans you need to nail bedtime first, according to sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works.
“Establishing a soothing and consistent bedtime routine around the same time every night contributes significantly to a better night’s sleep, making it easier to wake up feeling more rested the next morning. This goes a long way to helping our body regulate our sleep/wake cycles,” she explains.
“A good routine includes a warm bath or shower around 30 minutes before bed, writing a to-do list, picking out clothes and packing a bag for the next day. Reading or listening to music before going to sleep will help your mind and body wind down (and that doesn’t include checking emails or social media).”
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2. Start your morning with an energising breakfast 🍳
Providing your body with energy for the day ahead should be a priority in the morning, according to nutrition consultant Charlotte Stirling-Reed, and this is best achieved by trying to tick off as many food groups as possible.
“For example if you like cereals, fine. It’s a good idea to opt for a low sugar, high fibre (and fortified) cereal. Add some nuts and seeds and some chopped fruit and you’re improving the nutritional profile and fibre content of brekky so simply,” she explains. “You can also do the same with porridge – I mix peanut butter, milled linseeds and then some fresh (or frozen) fruits such as blueberries and raspberries to mine.
“If you like toast then try to top with a nutrient-dense topping such as a nut butter or marmite and serve with a side of fruit too. If you can get in some carbs, proteins and a portion of fruit (or veg) then you’re on to a win for the rest of the day.”
She adds that the odd tea or coffee isn’t the end of the world, but we should not replace foods with fluids in the morning as caffeine is no substitute for a meal.
3. Seek out natural light 🌤
Natural light may be hard to come by if you’ve got an early alarm, but Taylor recommends hunting it down or recreating it as much as possible.
“Our naturally occurring sleep hormone, melatonin, is directly connected to light and dark. The darker the environment the sleepier we are likely to feel. The presence of natural or artificial light in the morning helps us feel more awake and energised,” she explains.
Depending on what time you wake up (and the proximity of your bedroom window to street lights), she recommends leaving curtains or blinds open overnight so natural light can creep in gradually in the morning.
“You may also want to consider a natural alarm clock which mimics the light of a rising sun, waking you more gradually and gently,” she says.
4. Do not hit snooze 😴
Tempting as it is to grab a few extra minutes in bed, avoid starting the day by hitting the snooze button as this can often spiral.
“When an extra 10 minutes becomes 20, then 30, and you drag yourself out of bed feeling groggy, not to mention running late, you know it’s time to make a change,” Taylor says.
“Allow yourself the extra 10 minutes indulgence by setting the alarm 10 minutes later and make the snooze button a no-go area. One option is to put the alarm clock on the other side of the room, forcing you to get up and cross the room to turn it off.”
5. Embrace morning exercise 💪
When even walking to the kettle feels like too much effort, morning exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But switching to a pre-work workout could energise you for the day ahead and leave more time in the evenings for those great autumn/winter TV dramas.
“Any workout is good in the morning, but sometimes a high intensity interval session can really pump you up for the day ahead, leaving you with endorphins rushing through your veins,” explains personal trainer Dom Thorpe.
“The other benefit of working out in the morning is that you’re more likely to perform well as you’ll have had a good night’s rest directly before, whereas training in the evening can be sub-optimal if you’re feeling tired and fatigued.”
Thorpe advises setting your heating to a timer before you wake up and warming up your workout gear on the radiator to help with motivation.
6. Spruce up your autumn wardrobe 🧣
Call us vain, but when we’re in a new outfit we can’t wait to get out of the door to show it off. If you too are mere mortal, turn your negative attitude towards colder weather into a positive by getting excited about the new style season.
Our guides to the most joyful autumn jumpers, awesome animal prints, must-have midi skirts and stylish skirt suits will set you on your way. If all else fails, dig out your favourite roll neck and hunker down with a giant scarf.