Sleep is so vital that some health experts view proper sleep as the “new steroid.” That's because people who get a really good night's sleep are stronger and perform better, with the carry-over benefits coming very quickly.

Unfortunately, getting a good amount of sleep doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for you to get out of bed in the morning. This is especially true in the cold, dark winter months.

The reason it’s so tough is that we lose the sun’s effect on our brain. When light passes through your eyes, it sends a signal to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This is the part of the brain next to your eyes that helps control the sleep-wake cycle. When we lose that light cue, waking up gets harder.

The good news is that there are some tips and tricks we can try to make waking up a little easier.

Fake it until you make it

Investing in a wake-up light might be a good option for you, especially if you suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). These light alarm clocks gradually lighten to help ease your body into waking more naturally, and then you’re greeted with a sun-shiny room instead of a cold cave and a jarring alarm.

Stick to it

One of the best things you can do to ensure an easy wake up is to stick to the same sleep schedule every day, no matter the season. Going to bed and waking up at the same time, or as close to it as possible will help you maintain a routine.

Lights out

While light can help wake you up in the morning, it can also keep you up and disrupt your sleep. Stay away from bright lights, including ones from electronic screens before bed. These types of screens emit a blue light that can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin and increase alertness, even causing the body’s internal clock to shift to a later schedule.

Warm up

The shock of putting your toes onto a cold floor makes crawling back into bed that much more enticing. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to turn on before you wake up to help warm up the room and the floor. You can also set your coffee maker to have a fresh pot brewing, so not only do you wake up to the delicious smell, but you can also have a lovely cup first thing.

Get unplugged

Turn off your electronic devices at least 15 minutes before you go to bed. That includes your computer, cellphone and television. Too much screen time before bed keeps your brain active and could be sabotaging your sleep schedule.