8 ways to get the most out of your mornings
Are you a morning person? Do you crave coffee in the morning to help you get through the long workday? According to research, there are plenty of steps to have an effective morning routine. These methods can help you get the most out of those early mornings. Here are eight scientist-approved steps to help maximize your morning schedule.
Wake up at the same time every day
Your body needs to be on a regular schedule. It will never get used to mornings if you don’t wake up at the same time every day. A study followed 61 Harvard University students for a month and determined that individuals who woke up at the same time every day performed better than those with inconsistent sleep patterns.
Authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander interviewed 300 successful individuals about their morning routines. They found the average wake-up time is at exactly 6:27 a.m. every day. This might sound early, but your body will get used to this schedule before you know it.
Stop relying on your alarm clock
It’s hard to become a morning person. We’re not going to deny this fact, but one of the things to help you get used to a consistent wake-up schedule is to effectively stop relying on your alarm clock. Alarm clocks generally jolt you awake and cause “sleep inertia,” a period of cognitive and motor impairment. This ultimately causes you to crave coffee. But if you start waking up at a consistent time of the day, every day, your mind will know when it’s time to wake up. You can still set an alarm for a few minutes later as an emergency back-up, so you’re not late for work.
In addition, stop hitting the snooze button. This only makes your morning schedule worse. Sleep expert Neil Robinson said, “By dozing off for those extra minutes, we’re preparing our bodies for another sleep cycle, which is then quickly interrupted — causing us to feel fatigued for the rest of the day that lies ahead.”
Skip the coffee
We’re not telling you to stop drinking coffee altogether; coffee is beneficial to your health. After all, it can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. But drinking coffee at different times of the day can actually reduce the health benefits.
You don’t want to drink coffee when your cortisol levels (stress hormones) peak, usually occurring at 8 or 9 AM, noon to 1 PM, and 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Coffee adds more stress to your already heightened hormones. So, instead of drinking coffee after you wake up, it’s best to wait a few hours when your cortisol levels diminish. Give it a try. You never know what might happen.
Get out and exercise
You probably don’t want to exercise in the morning, but it’s best for your health. New research suggests that an early morning workout, especially before breakfast, can speed up weight loss and prime the body’s energy for the whole day. You force your body to tap into its fat reserves for fuel. If you don’t exercise, your body has to use your last meal for energy. Think about what you last eat at night. Is that enough to sustain good, positive energy for your day? Furthermore, exercising in the morning increases your neurotransmitters and growth factors in the brain, helping strengthen your memory.
Take time for self-care
If you wake up early enough, you can accomplish many things before you head to work. You can take time for self-care activities, including journaling, reading, watching a television show, meditating, and more. Spall and Xander commented that the most successful morning people carve out time for things that improve their moods. You might not find time for these activities after work when you’re busy preparing dinner and winding down after the long day. Instead, participate in these activities in the morning. You might be surprised at the difference it makes in your mood.
You have probably been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that might actually be true. According to health expert Marcela Fuiza, eating breakfast stabilizes your eating during the day. Fuiza commented, “Very often those that skip breakfast can find it difficult to recognize feelings of hunger or fullness during the rest of the day, which can potentially lead to over-eating.” It’s recommended to eat breakfast, but make sure your meal includes plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Skip the pancakes, bagels, and muffins. A grapefruit or bowl of oatmeal will work just fine.
Create a to-do list
To-do lists help you figure out what you need to accomplish for the day. If you have a list in front of you, you know what you need to complete, and you feel accomplished when you start “checking” items off the list. According to Cal Newport, professor of computer science at Georgetown University, create a to-do list you can actually complete. He said, “Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually have and how long things will take. Now that you look at the whole picture, you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday. You not only squeeze more work in but you’re able to put work into places where you can do it best.”
Leave for work early
If you have a long commute to work, you probably notice you experience more headaches, backaches, digestive problems, higher blood pressure, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and concentration problems throughout the day. While you can find ways to enjoy your morning commute (listening to upbeat music or a fun podcast), it’s been reported that if you leave early and encounter less congestion on the road, your mood will improve. On the plus side, being the first person to arrive at the office every day is a nice way to impress your employer.