6 a.m. needn’t be a dreaded hour.

It’s that time of year again: Although your alarm insists it’s time to rise and shine, the sun has yet to come up — and that makes leaving the bed, no matter where you’re off to, a struggle. 

Morning dread can feel especially heavy in the cold, dark, winter months that linger on (and on). 

But you don’t have to succumb to the snooze or complain away your early hours. Instead, seize them by resetting your routine. Here, simple tricks to switch your brain into wake mode (and wake up just a little bit happier).   

Warm up.  

Leaving a cocoon of covers is arguably the worst part of winter mornings. A fix: a smart thermostat that will gradually heat up your bedroom every morning. A more luxurious yet budget-friendly option? Keep a fluffy robe and slippers bedside and do away with cold floors for good. 

Find peace.

Even brief bouts of meditation can help dash negative thoughts and dial down anxiety and depression, making for a happier a.m. And there’s something powerfully profound about the quiet, morning hours. UCLA’s Mindful App lets you try out guided meditations. Or, set aside a few minutes for deep breathing with the Insight Timer. 


A morning stretching routine can help increase blood flow to stiff limbs, making you more comfortable, lowering the likelihood that you’ll wind up injured in the hours after your wakeup. Starting your day with stretching also helps to improve your flexibility and pliability — a plus for avid cyclists and cardio buffs.

Be grateful.

Feeling thankful might be the last thing on your mind when it’s dark out and the workday is creeping closer, but a gratitude practice that makes sense for you — it could be something as simple as listing three things you’re thankful for in a gratitude journal or sending out a few good morning texts to people you love — can be a powerful promoter of positivity.

Consider a lightbox. 

It is (kind of) possible to replicate the sunrise your body is missing. Philips’s Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock, which slowly lights up your bedroom with an automated sunrise before your alarm goes off , can help jolt your circadian rhythm—your body’s internal clock—into gear, helping you feel more alert.

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