(WBBM Newsradio) — If you’re struggling to get out of bed these days, take heart.

The shortest day of the year is next week and there are steps you can take to feel more alert.

During the winter solstice on Thursday, Chicagoans see the sun for about nine hours and nine minutes.

That’s a far cry from the 15 plus hours that shine during the summer.

Sleep expert Dr. Vikas Jain says sunlight improves our mood through higher serotonin levels.

The Northwestern Medicine specialist says his patients often complain of feeling more groggy at this time of year.

He says the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) increases the further away you get from the equator, so a trip south over the holidays can bolster your spirits.

If you can’t hop on a plane, there’s a much simpler answer: light therapy.

Dr. Jain says dawn simulators or light boxes provide artificial light to help you wake up and feel more alert during our dark mornings.