As a college student, I can attest that it is very difficult to juggle academics, social life, and extracurricular activities. Many students such as myself stress under this weight and try to manage their schedules by sacrificing sleep and skipping exercise. Eventually, you feel sluggish and exhausted throughout the whole day, which makes it even harder to finish your numerous tasks efficiently. While it can seem valuable to squeeze in extra work by going to bed late and waking up late, waking up early and being outside will actually make you feel much better. When you wake up and are exposed to bright light in the morning, you feel more alert and energized during the day and also have an easier time sleeping soundly at night. This boost in overall health can kick start your energy and prepare you to handle the stress of day-to-day life.

There are many ways to get bright light during the day such as going for a walk, biking, and running outside. Or, if you choose to exercise in a gym, pick a machine near a window. Especially during the winter months, it’s helpful to make an extra effort to get as much light as you can in order to avoid the winter blues. I know it is hard to find time to exercise during the day, so what do you do if you can’t find the time to exercise? Consider eating breakfast near a sunny window even if it’s just for half an hour! Also choose a spot in the library or at the coffee shop near a window to ensure exposure to bright light. I know it can be hard to peel yourself away from your phone, however try to avoid the blue light from your device screens late at night (consider downloading f.lux for your laptop). Keep in mind that your circadian rhythm is set by bright light in the morning and dim light at bedtime!

McKenzie B. Parks, Harvard, Class of 2019