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How to feel more awake

Dark mornings got you feeling super sleepy? Here's how to feel more awake – without just relying on coffee

Lady jumping on a mattress
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Desperate to feel more awake? Dark, dreary mornings have a tendency to leave us all feeling a little more lethargic than usual. And while we'd love to recommend 'just switching off your alarm and letting your body get the rest is needs' as the answer to how to feel more awake, if you have a hectic work schedule and/or family life, then this isn't a realistic solution.

So, we've done some research – and drawn on our own experiences – in a bid to help you feel more awake. From natural remedies to how tech can help improve your sleep cycle, we're here to help you find a solution, fast.

Looking for more advice? Check out our guide to how to sleep well. It's jam-packed with tips and tricks.

1. Wake up as nature intended 

Our top tip for feeling more awake is investing in a wake up light. Seriously, these handy devices may seem super millennial and super unnecessary, but they have the power to completely transform your experience of dark, winter mornings.

How? By helping you wake up gradually – and as nature intended – rather than leaving you at the mercy of a startling alarm. Wake up lights use light (as the name might suggest) to tap into our circadian rhythms – an internal process that regulates the sleep cycle.

By gradually filling a room with light – as the sun would in summer – wake up lights interact with this internal rhythm, gently rousing us from sleep, as opposed to bringing sleep to an abrupt end as a traditional alarm might. This reduces stress on both the mind and body by ensuring a slower start to the day. It's a small change, but your body will really thank you for it.

2. Consider upgrading your sleep set-up

It's possible that you're feeling tired because of a lack of quality sleep. So, if you're serious about feeling more awake it's worth reviewing your sleep set up. This means thinking about when you last replaced your mattress – experts recommend every eight years – and figuring out whether your duvet, pillows and even your bedding are actually working for you.

We've written a whole host of guides to help you find create the best sleep set-up. Check them out below.

3. Take time to exercise

This one may seem counter intuitive, surely exercise would make you feel more tired? Right? Surprisingly, wrong. If you don't already exercise regularly, you'll be amazed how incorporating some movement into your life can actually make you feel more awake.

Not only will the endorphins released from exercise boost your energy levels – and your mood – but regular exercise will also improve your cardiovascular health and with it your bodies natural endurance. Meaning you'll preserve more energy throughout the day. Plus, research suggests you're likely to get a better night sleep on days that you engage in physical activity.

If you're a bit out of the exercising groove, don't panic, we're not suggesting daily 10Ks or 5am personal training sessions. Something as simple as getting in a daily walk is a great place to start. Alternatively, you may find that a service like Class Pass (opens in new tab) is a great way to fit exercise into a busy schedule – and they're currently offering one month free to new users.

4. And keep yourself motivated

Struggle to stay motivated when it comes to regular exercise? A FitBit could be just what you need. Perfect for helping you track your daily movement, it could be the reminder you need to get in that lunch time walk.

Plus, some of the best FitBits can also track your sleep. They say knowledge is power and we think the easiest way to figure out why you're feeling so drowsy is to work with the bare facts: how well are you actually sleeping.

Browse our pick of the best FitBit deals for a fitness tracker at the best possible price.

5. And if all else fails, coffee is your friend

While we wouldn't recommend drinking coffee in excess, the odd cup in the morning is a great way to perk yourself up. Consider investing in the best coffee machine as a more affordable alternative to daily visits to local coffee shops.

That said, we wouldn't advise caffeine consumption too late into the afternoon as this may affect your ability to sleep properly and perpetuate your feeling of drowsiness. 

Emily first (temporarily) joined the Real Homes team while interning on her summer break from university. After graduating, she worked on several publications before joining Real Homes as Staff Writer full time in mid-2018. She left the brand in 2020 to pursue another career, but still loves a second-hand bargain and sourcing unique finds to make her rented flat reflect her personality.