THE BOTTOM LINE
Get up at the same time every morning (no snoozing)
Use physical activity and light to boost your natural “wake-up” hormones
Time caffeine strategically and use quick wins
Your morning ritual can set the tone for your entire day. Morning rituals promote alertness and boost your mood and energy levels. Developing a regular morning routine helps you start each day off strong and can even strengthen your body’s internal clock.
Take a look at your morning and ask yourself if you’re doing things like:
Hitting the snooze button repeatedly until you’ve made yourself late for everything
Dragging yourself out of bed and straight into caffeine town
Yelling at the sun
Staring into the abyss and wondering how the heck it’s possibly morning
If any of this even remotely reminds you of your morning routine, it may be time to reevaluate.
Fortunately for you, we’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Follow these tips designed to help you power up for your day and maintain a healthy sleep pattern.
1. DON'T HIT SNOOZE
As tempting as it is to catch just a few more minutes of sleep, avoiding the temptation to hit the snooze button is one of the most important parts of your morning ritual.
Why is hitting snooze bad, though?
When your alarm goes off in the morning, you are usually nearing the end of your final REM cycle. If you get up right away, your brain understands the cues and begins pumping you with “wake-up” hormones.
If you hit snooze, you end up slipping back into REM. That second alarm sounds and wakes you up in the middle of a REM cycle, which leaves you foggy and disoriented. Foggy and disoriented are generally not terms we associate with a “good start to the day.”
TIP: Place your alarm in a place where you have to leave the bed to turn it off.
2. WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY MORNING
One of the most effective tools for regulating your sleep cycle is to get up at the same time every day. Even if you’ve stayed up a bit later than usual, set that alarm for the same time.
An internal clock regulates our sleep, and our brains operate optimally when we make things predictable. Keeping a consistent wake time is one of the most efficient ways to keep your circadian rhythm in check and improve sleep.
3. WATER YOURSELF
One of the quickest and most refreshing ways to kick-start your day is by splashing your face with cold water. Cold water tightens pores and promotes blood circulation, which can help reduce that puffy morning look. As an added bonus, splashing cold water on your face also wakes you up.
Your face isn’t the only thing that needs watering. Try drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, and let us know how you feel! Starting out the day, hydrating is good for your body but also makes you feel like a health guru. “Look at me drinking water first thing in the morning like some sort of health guru” you might say. If you don’t like plain water, try adding a slice of lemon or lime for a little pizazz. Learn more about how you can hydrate yourself for better sleep.
LEVEL-UP YOUR MORNING
4. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Exercise is important for overall health, and it helps you sleep better. Doing a little physical activity first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to improve your focus and get energized. Learn more about how you can exercise your way to better sleep.
If you are trying to lose a little fat, some studies suggest that squeezing in a workout before breakfast tends to burn more fat. You can try a brisk walk, a jog, or a full-body workout.
What if I don't have time?
Not everyone can squeeze in a morning workout, and that’s ok. Put aside 10 minutes to do some gentle stretching, sit-ups, burpees, or yoga in the morning. You can design yourself a little routine to your liking and stick with it.
5. EARLY MORNING SUNSHINE
Getting early morning sun exposure for just 10 minutes can help you sleep better at night. The sun is less intense in the morning (between 8-10 am) but has plenty of UV and infrared light. Infrared is important for the absorption of UV rays in a healthy way.
Getting doses of sun exposure helps your body regulate its internal clock, which keeps your brain, body, and sleep cycle in check. It regulates hormones, boosts immune functioning, increases serotonin, and improves nutrient absorption. According to the World Health Organization, getting 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands, and face 2-3 times a week is sufficient.
If you can’t make it to your appointment with the sun, try a sun lamp for a convenient way to get the benefits of natural sunlight from anywhere.
6. DELAY YOUR CAFFEINE
Oftentimes, the first thing we do in the morning is guzzle caffeine, but delaying your coffee can actually make it work better! Your body has a natural system that wakes you up in the morning by pumping you up with energy-boosting hormones like cortisol. Drinking coffee within the first 90 minutes of waking up can blunt the stimulating effects of coffee and lead to increased tolerance to caffeine.
Time your coffee breaks for late morning and right after lunch when cortisol is generally lower. Hydrating first thing in the morning with a nice glass of water is a great alternative. Water helps carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, and protects organs and tissues. One glass of water won’t do anything too magical, but it is an excellent habit to adopt.
Implement any of these “quick win” habits first thing in the morning to start your day on a positive note. They are fast, minimal effort, and are guaranteed to give you a little dopamine rush and a sense of accomplishment. Tiny changes!
Make your bed: This one might sound simple or even mundane, but it’s an effective tool. Making your bed as soon as you get up gives you a quick and easy opportunity to set the day off right. Before you’ve even left your room, you’ve accomplished a task.
Daily Goals: You can do this on your phone or in a journal. Set 1 to 3 intentions or goals for the day. They could be surrounding anything you’d like to work on. Be specific so that they are easy to follow.
Meditate: Beginning your day with a meditation practice helps you feel grounded and reduces anxiety before you jump into the day. Try a guided meditation or use a timer; there are plenty of free tracks specifically designed to get you started off in the right headspace. Check out this sample meditation track.
Gratitude: Expressing gratitude is an easy way to improve your mental well-being and health. Choose a set time each day (i.e. when your alarm goes off) and simply list three things that you are grateful for.
Intentions/Positive affirmations: Daily intentions and positive affirmations help combat negative thinking and train your brain to think positively. You can make a list of intentions to reflect upon each morning while you sip your coffee or write new ones each day.
Vitamins: Certain vitamins such as multivitamins and B vitamins are best taken in the morning due to their potential to stimulate your metabolism. CBD is also best taken in the morning. Wait until breakfast or your first meal to take omega-3 and vitamin D.
What not to do
Certain morning habits might seem like they are making things easier or more tolerable, but ultimately they are harming your sleep and zapping your energy. If your morning mostly consists of these bad habits, you can begin restructuring your routine by cutting out some of these unhelpful morning actions.
- Hit snooze: This item is so important it gets an unprecedented two sections! Hitting snooze is one of the most commonly reported activities that can really mess up your morning. Those extra few minutes of slumber do nothing but disrupt your brain’s restorative morning actions and leave you in a state of sleep/wake. That morning fog you feel? That’s the snooze button. Make it your mantra to avoid hitting snooze, and let us know how much better you start to feel.
- Waking up whenever: Inconsistent wake times leave your brain and body struggling to retain balance. As a result, the amount of restful sleep you get suffers. Those morning snooze fests might feel good at the time, but they are disruptive to your sleep. Instead of snoozing on those lazy mornings, try waking up at the same time and engaging in restful activities like reading or scrolling cute dog pics on Instagram.
- Chugging caffeine: If we wait 90 minutes after waking up to drink caffeine, we can get the optimal benefits of this focus-promoting compound. Drinking it too early blunts the effects due to our body’s natural wakefulness hormones. Try filling those first 90 minutes with a morning routine such as exercise, stretching, sun exposure, and journaling.
- Crawl from your bed into the world: If we mentally jump into our day without taking a moment to properly wake up and ground ourselves, the world reflects back to us this ungrounded state. That is to say, your day starts on a chaotic note. Taking even just 5 minutes to stop, breathe deeply, and be present in the moment can do wonders for your mental state.
- Leave it up to future you: A common mistake we often make is to make life more complicated for our future selves. If you want success with your morning routine, you can take some of the onus off of your future morning self by doing some quick and easy prep. Try helpful techniques like placing a water glass and vitamins by the sink, setting out clothes, and placing your journal on the table where you sit to have your coffee.