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How to Get Your Morning Mojo Back

Hey mate,

Does this sound familiar?

“BBBZZZZZZZ

Its the bloody alarm. Again.

Dazed, blurry, and feeling more tired than when you went to bed, there are few things you wouldn’t do to be able to spend the whole day in bed and rest up.

Resigned to begin this day (fate?), you reach over, turn the alarm off, and stagger out bed.

Shuffling towards the kitchen, you know that you will feel so much more alive and perky in just a few minutes. Just as soon as you can get your hands on that first cup of coffee.

Nothing like some adrenal tapping, artificial energy to start your day the right way.”

 

STOP

You may not realize this, but as someone with a history of sleeping issues I frequently wake up feeling groggy, tired, and with very limited “get up and go”

And this despite refusing to wake up to an alarm unless there are planes, bikinis, or adventure involved.

The subsequent desire to reach for a strong cup of coffee immediately on waking is strong, and I succumb more often than I care to admit.

Unfortunately, this gets you NO WHERE quickly…. other than into a spiral of fatigue, drug reliance (caffeine) and chronically elevated cortisol levels.

Whenever I find that I have gotten myself back into a cycle of reaching for a coffee first thing, I implement this quick fix.

In fact, whenever I find that my health or happiness are not where I want them to be, I implement this.

Like most of the better fixes in life, it is very simple, and works 100% of the time you actually DO IT.

 

I could put it under the title: “EARN Your Coffee”

I could also word it as

“How to Stop Digging a Black Hole”

“Get Your Mojo Back”

“Improving Testosterone: How to Wake Up To Captain Woody” (for the guys, cortisol and testosterone compete for the same resources)

“Lose the Wrinkles: How to Wake Up to the Best Skin EVER” (cortisol impacts collagen!)

“How to Get Your Morning Energy Back”

Or just put a simple way:

“How to Increase Your Daily Energy”

It is a quick fix you can implement immediately into your life, coffee addict or not.

I call it… drums please….

Wake. Walk. Water.

Wake – ideally to no alarm.

Walk – outdoors for 15-60 minutes. Do this immediately on waking. Do not pause. Do not delay. Do not turn on your cell phone, and do NOT check your email.

Water – Water yourself, to the tune of about 1.5 liters, consumed during your walk.

If you are a true caffeine hound, then doing this the few first times is going to be really hard…. for about 5 minutes. Then you will find that you are waking up, feeling pretty good, and ready to face the day.

All that, and DRUG free… AMAZING.

Maybe when you get back, you can have that cup of Joe. But first you have to earn it.

It will get easier every day, and you will feel a little bit better, every day.

Let’s look at the simple benefits of Wake. Walk. Water.

Hydration: if you are even partially dehydrated, mental and physical performance can suffer, leading to lethargy and fuzzy thinking. I don’t think we need to walk around carrying a bottle and sipping water all day, but start your day out fully hydrated by knocking back 1.5 liters in your morning walk and I guarantee you will thank me for it.

Light sensitivity and neurotransmitter activity: our brains are pretty well cued to run off LIGHT as a signal for when to get up and go, and when to lay down and face plant. (No screens late at night and pitch black room for sleeping, anyone?). Now we are simply offering the opposite trigger. SUNLIGHT. Body and brain take note, it is wake up time.

Vitamin D and the sun: I don’t push the D3 in a bottle much, despite the fact that we sell this, mainly because I MUCH PREFER THE SUN. This is an opportunity to get outdoors, and get some sun. Ensuring adequate levels of Vitamin D is easily one of the most important factors in total health and happiness.

Movement, oxygen and neurotransmitter activity: when was the last time that going for a brisk walk made you feel sleepy? There are complete university degrees on what happens to our body when we exercise so going into it in detail could take me up to four years. The short version: There is not a SINGLE hormone in your body that won’t thank you for going for a walk. Movement rocks. Sunshine rocks. Being outdoors rocks. Once again, even a little bit of movement (especially coupled with the light) will induce a nice natural release of all those wonderful transmitters you need in order to focus and think clearly.

Connection with nature: walk in the most natural environment you can find. Like the shitty food most people eat, our modern lives tend to be very far removed from our ancestral norm in terms of connection with nature. Even little bits of exposure to nature are good for happiness and stress levels.

But Kiwi, what about the folks who have to get their kids fed and ready for school, or get to work first thing on waking?

Kiwi, what about when the weather is shite?

 

Two very simple options:

1. Don’t do this in any form, then complain about how you can’t do this, and how the whole world is therefore against you and why you should not only continue to wake up to/with coffee but should add eating donuts to the mix. This would make you an official BLEATER. Not recommended.

OR

2. Apply some intelligent thinking and little bit of willpower and DO something LIKE this, albeit in a different format, and/or a different time.

Our goal has two simple facets:

Wake up each day without reaching for a drug. In this case, caffeine.

Improve health and happiness.

 

Put another way, lets make sure you EARN YOUR COFFEE before you take your first cup each day.

Q and A time:

Q: Kiwi, what if I don’t have any time first thing in the morning to go for a walk?

Answer 1: My preferred option is that you go to bed earlier (try setting an alarm to go to BED 30 minutes earlier) and by virtue of waking up even just 20 minutes earlier, make the time. By the way, these morning walks are really good for fat loss.

Answer 2: If that doesn’t work, lets play with any other version of EARN YOUR COFFEE.

A) If you are going to have a time slot pop up relatively early in the morning, then just delay your caffeine until AFTER you perform some form of exercise.

Real life example: Courtney, beyond being our awesome and unbelievably busy GM, also has a young family to take care of. She wakes up, gets her two young kids ready for school, puts them on the bus, then marches off for 20 minutes outdoors. If the outdoors isn’t going to happen due to weather, she rips out 100 KB swings.

EARN YOUR COFFEE

B) You have figured out how to squeeze out just 10 minutes first thing. You do this: FOAM ROLL for 5 minutes. Then utilizing that improved mobility, perform 5 minutes of mobility/activation work. Glute bridges followed by any type of lunge variety would be the minimum. Here is one of my favorites, care of Eric Cressey. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DykSyvPxmZA

Best if you can do this in a very bright room with lots of natural light.

EARN YOUR COFFEE

Q: Kiwi, I already wake up and exercise early, just not a walk, what should I do?

A: Simple, get your workout done BEFORE you have the caffeine. You will swear, then you will thank me.

EARN THAT COFFEE.

Q: Kiwi, I made the time, but the weather is SHITE. What should I do?

A: Suck it up and go outdoors anyway, especially if you have a pooch. OR Perform the example B given above, followed by some indoor exercise. EVEN a little bit will do wonders, chase the natural light and don’t forget the water.

EARN THAT COFEEE.

Q. Kiwi, I have the time and the will power to crank this puppy. How do you recommend I get the full turbocharge version in?

A. Gooooooood question mate. I thought you would never ask.

The full monty.

Wake up and get on the foam roller. 5 minutes minimum with a focus on quads and hip flexors, IT bands, lower back, and thoracic spine mobility. Then 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic warm up, including the glute bridges and lunge mentioned above.

Head out for your walk. Your choice of listening material:

Music

Audiobook/podcast

Your thoughts

A companion

If by yourself, for at least a quarter or more of your walks go with just your thoughts, you will be amazed and some of the stuff you come up with (I take a piece of paper and a pen) and also how much this will relax you. You can also hear the replies when you say “Good Morning!” to anyone you meet while on your walk.

Progression:

Get the habit in first. When that becomes pretty simple to do, consider playing with the following:

Make it a timed SPEED walk, (I discussed these in detail this post here, you will need to scroll down)

Add a weighted vest

Find a hill and walk up it very very fast.

If you walk by a suitable tree or playground, rip out a few push ups, pull ups, and bodyweight lunges and squats. Just a few sets, and stay away from failure. Then keep walking.

If you live near the water, end with a swim (feel free to swap out the walk for a swim).

Hill sprints on occasion, if and when you feel you are ready, and depending on your training.

Make the walk shorter, but after you have been walking for about 15-20 minutes perform a short but intense conditioning workout. The hill sprints could potentially be this workout, as could games with a kettlebell or two, or adding some more bodyweight exercises to the mix.

NOTES:

Feel free to swap out a mountain bike, kayak, paddle, or swim OUTDOORS for the walk. Gentle low level cardio/movement outdoors is what we are after, ideally (not steady state intense cardio).

Remember, the goal is to Wake up and MOVE, regardless of if you are a caffeine addict or not.

Feel free to completely mix this up for variety.

Yes. It is completely acceptable to swap out the morning walk for an athletic power shag with your significant other. The outdoors part is up to you!

Supplements. Definitely not essential, I take 10 grams of our BCAA’s before each am walk. I alternate between taking my Athletic Greens very first thing before I go for a walk and taking it immediately I get back.

Whatever you do, try not to rely on coffee to wake you up. It is a miserable cycle.

Look instead to movement, sunlight, and fresh air. You will thank me for it.

“100% Focus on Happiness”

That is my mantra, and it starts with phenomenal health.

Best,

Chris “the Kiwi”

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What are YOUR two best tricks for waking up and feeling awesome? Post your comments below, I would love to hear from you.

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About the author
Chris 'The Kiwi'
So named because he comes from a little country in the Pacific called New Zealand where a small, fat, quasi-blind, and largely defenseless bird by the name of “Kiwi” is the national animal, and what we are called when we land in other countries. He is focused on using what he can remember from his studies for a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science and his cumulative years as a nutritionist and strength coach to help other people enjoy amazing levels of health and energy. He enjoys ticking through his list of life goals and meeting new people.
  • Zee

    Chris,
    Thanks for these tips. I have been following your program for the last 2months and have see significant results. Everyone wants to know what I have been doing and I have been getting compliments about how great I look. Thank You so much! I need some tips on how to loose the last 10lbs , get rid of the rest of fat (mostly in my belly and thighs )and tone my body. I am open for your suggestions regarding diet and exercise and anything else to continue to loose fat. Thanks again!

    • Anonymous

      Hey Zee!!

      GREAT WORK to date.

      I have said before and I will say again that you need to throw out those scales. Weight is a poor indicator of fat loss success.

      That said, if it is all working, don’t change anything in terms of your diet, at least for now. I am assuming that you are still getting leaner, though perhaps not as quickly as earlier or as you would like.

      Don’t sweat that for now.

      I would however, recommend that you change up your exercise modality. Do something very different with regards to your programming.

      http://www.christhekiwi.com/fat-loss-sometimes-the-fastest-way-to-achieve-something-is-to-stop-chasing-it/

      Let’s try that for a month or so before we look at maybe playing with your food a bit, ok?

      • Zee

        ok, thanks Chris

        • Anonymous

          Hey Zee,

          How are you getting on mate?

          C

  • jmhodgesjr

    Chris,

    Thank you for the great information. I been following your receommendations and doing very well. As honesty is one of your main principles, I did want to make a few comments on Athletic Greens and the Human Performance Network. I live outside the US and cannot order via auto-fill. It is extremely frustrating that I cannot earn the discoutn for large orders and that all the items, AG, BCAA and Omega3 need to be shipped seperately with individual shipping for each item. The supplements work and I like the product, so I did not want to post the feedback that I provided to HPN. However, I did want to let you know of the difficulty as you are their spokesman and have been recommending all three items as of late.

    Thanks again for the great information. Keep up the great service for the many that follow you.

    Jim

    • Anonymous

      Hello Jim,

      Thank you very much for your honest feedback. I appreciate it. I have passed this back to our Customer Happiness manager. She should contact you directly shortly.

      Please let me know how you get on, and please also keep the honest thoughts coming, it is the only way we can make your experience with us better, which is what it is all about. Our new website should help with this a lot.

      Best,

      C

  • Rajiv

    What about muscle loss, if u walk Brisk, jog or run, in the morning empty stomach….? pls guide..In the morning I take my black coffee with 10 gm of protein Isolate..to break the overnight fasting and catabolic stage..Is it correct ..Pls guide.. Kiwi…

    • Anonymous

      Hey Rajiv,

      The idea given in this post is to wake up without relying on caffeine. Assuming you are going for a WALK (not a run/jog) you don’t need to worry about any muscle loss at all. I would consider taking 10 grams of BCAA’s prior to the walk, but you definitely don’t need it per se.

      And the coffee happens after you have earned it mate :)

  • Rozalin

    I broke my leg and sprained both ankles a couple of months ago.Spent 3 weeks in hospital and rehab and stacked on 3 -4 kilos.Still not very mobile but improving steadily, but resenting the weight gain. Any ideas about lowimpact aerobic exercise welcome.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Rozalin,

      Still plenty you can do upper body in the gym. I would look at doing some pretty big long upper body circuits instead of cardio, or else just supersetting rapidly between a pair of exercises with very limited rest.
      On the lower body, your PT should be rehabbing you nicely, but i would get in the pool and do loaded exercise on your legs as much as possible. walking in the water, then jogging, side shuffles, doing butt kicks, all those things will really help you get your legs back quickly. Hope you are 100% soon!

  • ann

    Is the idea to just be in daylight — or must it be sunlight? (I walk in and amongst city high rises and not much sunlight gets through.:( ) And, is the idea that the eyes need to be taking in the sunlight unfiltered — ie, not wearing sunglasses.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Ann.

      Walking.
      Outdoors.
      In the sun ideal but not everything. Daylight is fine. Sunglasses are fine, though I recommend you go sometime without each day.

      Either way, you want to earn your coffee. :)

      C

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10615183 Mike Montali

    Chris, I gave up regular coffee a month ago and ever since I’ve been sleeping better at night. Funny thing is I still crave the taste of coffee so I drink decaf. I usually don’t drink it for an hour or so after I wake up. I was just wondering if this approach is a good one.

    • Anonymous

      Mike, that is the PERFECT approach. Well done!

  • Jeff

    Kiwi, always enjoy your posts. I am the rare morning person and love to get to bed early (everyone knows not to contact me after 9pm because I am in bed).

    One thing I would like to see in the future is staying is a post on staying “regular”. My diet is pretty good with lots of greens, healthy fats and protein but seem to struggle I this area. Does AG or anything help in this area?

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Jeff!

      I think that if we all lived on a retreat somewhere with no electricity, the vast majority of us would become morning people.

      Regular: happy to do a post on this. AG will definitely help. 90% plus of this is dysbiosis in most people, so really try and chow down on some fermented foods every day. Also look to increase your prebiotic intake (soluble fiber, such as inulin, not to be confused with insoluble fiber, which essentially just scours its way through your system). Prebiotics help feed the good bacteria, generating an environment in which they can grow. We have both pre and pro biotics in Athletic Greens, so feel free to load up, but you are likely in need of a lot more. Fermented foods the key. Also make sure that you are drinking a large amount of water. I would try for 5-6 liters a day, always between (but not with) meals for a while, and see how you go. Let me know. C

  • http://www.facebook.com/acoven Andrew Coven

    Kiwi, once again a fantastic post and very, very timely for me. I was just really missing my morning yoga and martial arts workout routine since I’ve been blessed with 2.5 year old twins, and was thinking about how I might get something in that at least gets me moving again. I’m going to try this out tomorrow! I wonder if I can throw my Athletic Greens in a 1.5 litre bottle (yeah, that’ll be pretty watered down, but so what?) and sip on that as I walk…

    • Anonymous

      Hey Andrew,

      Thanks mate! Appreciate the feedback. You could mix the AG in with your water, but since you want to consume your Athletic Greens asap (within 5 minutes) once you mix it, I would rather you took a shot of Athletic Greens immediately before or after your walk and then had the water separately. C

  • http://www.zedshah.com/ Zed Shah

    Nice article, 2 things you mentioned totally resonate with what i’ve been doing for approx the last 6 months. Thing is 6 months ago I was suffering from bad insomnia, and I mean it was real bad, didnt sleep for 3 weeks straight :-S

    Then I saw a friend of mine who taught me the original form of meditation, something i’d never done before. fast forward 6 months (skipping loads of juicy detail) I now wake earlier then i’ve ever done before., even when I was working for ‘the man’. And I very rarely use an alarm, I learnt in meditation to focus on the time you wanna get up before you hit the sack and then let your bodies internal alarm clock do the rest …and so far its worked 9/10 :-)

    Secondly the water thing, definitely, definitely, definitely drink as soon as you wake up …BUT according to ancient ayuverdic wisdom you should take a small sip as ‘soon’ as you wake up, gargle it around the mouth, and then swallow it. Reasoning behind it is that ‘good’ bacteria form in your mouth over night and so by washing it down it aids your digestive system. Then continue to sip slowly a whole cup of water, key thing being ‘sip’. Once again because ancient ayuverdic wisdom states that your kidney’s have been asleep the whole night so gulping down a whole glass of water will send them into shock, therefore sip gently until you’ve downed a whole cup

    I could go on for ages but really felt compelled to add this 2 bit …once again congrats on the routine change Chris and an even bigger thanks for sharing your experience in this article

    Peace

    Zed

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Zed!

  • ross brockway

    Wow, you guys are always anticipating the most fundamental obstacles facing the health-conscious individual! My fiance’ and I are still living stimulant free and happy, both our ADD issues have slowly faded and this semester we both pulled out all A’s thanks to our morning doses of Athletic Greens plus a couple of your Omega 3 fish oil caps. and the D3 {5,000iu}1 each/daily.. and since our last order at semester’s start, we’ve been consistently taking our “greens” daily for several months and it’s almost time to reorder, so i’m thrilled to hear about the BCAA’s ! I’m slimmed down from greens and intermittent fasting, and of course the iron, which is why I’m super excited to reorder and get my first dose of those BCAA’s in my system ASAP so by August I should be lookin good and feeling amazing. Thanks bro. You’re the man Kiwi!

    • Anonymous

      Wow! Thanks Ross, congrats to you and your fiance for your outstanding efforts and progress. I hope you continue to go after it mate. I like the BCAA’s but don’t forget that food is first mate, and if you guys are studying and on a budget I would rather it went to eggs or cow than BCAA’s in a bottle.

      You are the man for going after it mate, keep us posted!

      C

  • http://www.facebook.com/itsbrisson Chris Brisson

    Funny, every time I get a great workout or run or walk or anything outdoors in the morning – the day becomes enjoyable and awesome. Easy to forget that sometimes.

    Earn your coffee – that’ll be a fun with Alex!

    • Anonymous

      Me too. :)

      Hope you go after it with Alex mate

      C

  • Isabel

    Chris, do you think caffeine post workout can impair recovery? Or are we really not considering this “walk” a workout. Currently I wake up at 4am and sit my butt to the chair and write with a cup of coffee. I’m going to implement 15 minutes of movement before my first sip and before I start writing. I wonder how much better my thoughts will flow. Will keep you posted.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Isabel.

      I think excessive amounts of caffeine any time will impair recovery, at a minimum, by up regulating your sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight, survival) vs the parasympathetic aka rest and repair and good digestion and business as usual.

      For most (other than those with pretty decent adrenal fatigue and/or chronically elevated cortisol levels) I don’t consider a cup of coffee to be excessive by any means, if that answers your question, unless of course you consistently need the coffee to feel awake or it is impairing your sleep quality.

      No, I am not really considering the wake up to walk and water a workout, more an intelligent part of daily living. Obviously people can change that by adding to it or altering the intensity, but in its basic form, it is just a walk outside.

      The “wake up to be productive”…. This is a big one. I am friends with a number of authors and most of those report that they get their best writing done between the hours of 10pm and 8 am. No distractions being the likely culprit. I can understand that.

      So if you find that waking up that early allows you a couple of hours of solitary productivity, and you are willing to take the trade off in terms of shortened/mess up sleep and/or adding to your overall stress load, then go for it. I would STILL prefer someone figured out to get up with no alarm, and get their wake up grove on WITHOUT the cup of coffee.

      At 4 am there is not much in the way of light (unless you live in Iceland in the summer) but outdoor air/exercise and or a bit of indoor exercise would still be preferable. As a test, try writing down on a piece of paper the three questions/outcomes you most answered/dealt with in your writing that morning.

      Write this and read it to yourself just before you head out on your wake up walk/movement.

      I find I come back with some pretty strong answers.

      Either way, let me know how you get on mate, and thanks for your comment!

      C

  • Karilee

    What about when it’s dark outside? What if you have to begin your day before it even gets light outside??

    • Anonymous

      Hey Karilee. You still go for it, you will get most of the benefits, just not the photo sensitivity or vitamin D3. Make sure you DO get in the sun later in the day and you will be fine.

      • Karilee

        One more question, I have also read the caffeine can improve exercise performance, which is why I have been having my one cup per day BEFORE my workout. I usually drink it while reading some inspiring thoughts, then yoga to warm up, then the workout…. What do you think?

        • Anonymous

          Hey Karilee, caffeine is an ergogenic substance with most of the positive studies coming back on improved endurance times failure with other more mixed results showing improved neuromuscular function. However, ask most athletes and they will tell you that they definitely feel stronger and more energetic on caffeine. At one point, blood concentrations beyond about what you would get in 3-4 double espressos once upon a time would have got you banned at the Olympics. HOWEVER, it is no longer on the banned list. It should be noted that the dose/tolerance curve of caffeine is pretty steep. If you had two identical twins, one who scoffed 5 coffees a day, and one who saved it for events, the twin who took two double espressos just prior to their weekend race but hardly ever had caffeine the rest of the time would get a pretty major kick, way ahead of their sibling.

          If you really want to take it for performance, that means generally saving it for special days/events, and then loading up. (Make sure you use it in practice so you don’t get any nasty surprises on game day).

          However, that doesn’t look at the feel good factor, or that many people are so messed up they can’t wake up or feel alert without caffeine. I consider caffeine to be a staple “Dr Feelgood” ingredient, sandwiched right between sugar and alcohol for most people.

          If you take it because you feel it gives you more energy or you like the taste or it just makes you happy then go for it. If you find that you reaching for the coffee to wake up, don’t feel like working out unless you have had some caffeine, and generally, don’t look or feel as awesome as you want to, then consider being more judicious in your use, your adrenals and sleep patterns will thank you for it.

    • Nolan Oliver

      I have this concern as well. I live at northern latitude where the sun follows a very nonstandard schedule. During the summer when it would be nice to wake up and take a walk it is guaranteed to be up, but in the winter unless you’re taking you’re walk between the hours of 12-2 you’re out of luck.

  • Chele

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve had this question for a while, and your post brings it up for me again. The whole black out window thing – I like the idea, but if I’m thinking about how to replicate our ancestral sleeping habits, it always seems to me like there should be light upon waking in the morning (Imagine fancy black out screens that close at sunset and open at sunrise). What do you think about still having your blacked out room in the morning? Maybe it’s a tradeoff, but the benefit of having it blacked out during the night is worth it? Just curious.

    • Alex

      I also have been wondering about this – I CANNOT wake up without light, and I even have a fancy alarm clock with a sun lamp that fades on over 20 minutes that still doesn’t do the trick every morning. I can sleep pretty well (I think – not using a Zeo or anything) with the blinds open, then it’s easier to wake up with the sun shining in. Is the idea that a blacked-out room will get me so much more rest than I get now that I’ll have an easier time waking up, even with the room still blacked out?

      • Anonymous

        Hey Alex,

        If you can’t wake up in the morning without being woken up (by the light, in this case, alarms for many people), what is that telling you about your body getting sufficient sleep quality and quantity?

        You want as much quality sleep as you can get. The blacked out room (and the other items in my list on this page: http://www.christhekiwi.com/fat-loss-and-the-atm-approach-to-cortisol-management/ will all help you with this.

        I know people whom will sleep for 12-15 hours if placed in an environment of complete sensory depravation. When I ask them what happens if they continue with this for a week or two, and almost always they report that the sleep times drop to about 10 hours, and they wake up feeling frisky.

        That is your goal: all the sleep your body needs (and quality sleep) and when you do wake up, wake up feeling frisky.

        Your question answered this I think: Is the idea that a blacked-out room will get me so much more rest than I get now that I’ll have an easier time waking up, even with the room still blacked out?.

        YES.

        :)

        Hope you go after it.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Chele,

      Good question. To replicate our ancestral norm, you would need to be going to be at or very soon after sundown each down. IF you are doing this, AND sleeping in a blacked out environment, I think it would be perfectly ok to wake up to the sun or whenever you get over being asleep. Either way, I would black out the sleeping environment for optimal sleep quality. If you are not going to bed and waking with the sun, then I recommend chasing as much sleep as you can, and just let your body wake up when it wants to if you can organize your life that way, THEN head out into the sun. Short answer: absolutely yes to the blacked out room for sleep quality and quantity.

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