Many of us are waking up under nightfall now. As we head towards winter, we're down to just over nine hours of daylight each day. That means it may be harder to kick the covers in the morning. 

Dr. Ross Dodge, a specialist in sleep medicine and Peak Neurology and Sleep Medicine, says he's adopted a couple of life hacks himself that seem to help.

The first, he refers to as "nap-puccinos."

"In the afternoon when you have that lull where you're just struggling to get through the afternoon, we know that there's benefit to power naps and we know that there's benefit to use of caffeine," Dodge explained.

So Dodge says he likes to drink a shot of espresso, and then drift into a quick, ten-minute nap. He says the caffeine takes 10 to 15 minutes to hit the bloodstream.

"So when my alarm goes off after ten minutes, I feel great," Dodge said.

His second hack also has to do with coffee. Dodge says he waits at least one hour before drinking his first cup in the morning. That, he says, has to do with a stress hormone called cortisol. Higher levels are naturally present in the body first thing in the morning but begin to decrease over time.  So Dodge suggests drinking a cup of coffee when cortisol levels start tapering off.

"Your coffee will feel like it's a little bit stronger just by using those natural cortisol levels," he said. 

If you're still struggling to adjust your sleep pattern to the change of seasons, Dodge says that's natural.

"Daylight is one of the most impactful things that can help program your body and your brain to wake up," Dodge said. 

While we can't increase the amount of daylight in our lives, we can simulate daylight using a light therapy lamp or daylight bulbs that use natural sunlight settings. Dodge suggests waking up to as much bright light as you can and exercising within 30 minutes of getting out of bed.

"The more active you are, the more light that you have can help compensate for that lack of sunshine," Dodge said, adding that cooler temperatures help our bodies power down for sleep, so warming up our bodies early in the day can have an energizing effect. "You can get that increase in body temperature early and then have it naturally fall over the course of the day when it's time to go to bed."

Dodge's other recommendations include setting a consistent bedtime, avoiding electronics before bed and taking a normal shower in the morning, but finishing with cold water.

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