Do you use your mornings to your advantage?
Successful people love mornings. A quick google search will reveal thousands of articles chronicling the first hours of the day of wildly successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and creatives.
For some, morning marks a time of undisturbed productivity, while others seize the energy of the new day for focused, creative work.
You can harness this energy too, and science is on your side. Making small adjustments to your morning routine can put your brain and body be in a better position to help you be more productive, feel more centered, and improve your overall health.
If you want to start reaping the benefits of a healthy morning routine, try implementing some of these habits that will supercharge your productivity and propel you into a great day.
Don’t hit snooze
Hitting snooze on your alarm clock can feel so, so sweet, but it may be doing you more harm than good (especially when it comes to keeping up a healthy morning routine).
The reason? It has to do with body temperature - which naturally starts to warm up a few hours before you wake up - and sleep inertia.
“Your body takes time to wake up and get you ready for the day. Fragmented sleep doesn’t actually help you. Letting yourself go back to sleep, even for just 10 minutes, communicates to your body that you’re not getting up and that it’s OK to go back into rest mode,” say medical professionals specializing in sleep patterns.
“If you’re someone who likes to press the snooze button multiple times, your brain and body get more and more confused. You can feel out of it and even more tired than you would have if you had gotten up with the first alarm.”
If hitting snooze still comes much too easy, try physically setting your alarm clock out of reach or across the room. Shutting it off will require getting up and you’ll be less likely to go back to sleep. If you still struggle to wake up in the morning, try going to bed earlier - you might not be getting enough sleep.
Start with water
It feels good to reach for a hot cup of coffee right as you roll out of the sheets in the morning, but consider pouring a glass of water first.
Think about it. After six to eight hours of sleep, our bodies are dehydrated, and a venti dark roast just doesn’t have the same nourishing benefits as a glass of water.
Every process your body undergoes throughout the day requires water, so start early. Without enough of it, you can end up tired or dizzy, experience dangerous drops in blood pressure, and your metabolism can suffer.
Dehydration can also take a serious toll on the brain, causing moodiness, poor memory, and muddled thinking. A decrease of just 1 to 2 percent of body water is all it takes to hinder cognitive performance, according to studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Delaying your coffee can be hard to do, so if you can't skip the coffee or wait until after you drink some water, opt for drinking a bottle of water along with your coffee. It’s better than no morning rehydration at all.
Are you guilty of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning? The endless scrolling, immediate stress from checking emails and jarring notifications can have a negative effect on your morning.
It’s actually because of brain waves.
“When you first wake up in the morning your brain switches from delta waves, which occur in a deep sleep state, to theta waves, which occur during a sort of daydreamy state. The brain then moves to produce alpha waves when you are awake but are relaxed and not processing much information,” according to psychologist and writer Jay Rai.
“By grabbing your phone first thing and immediately diving into the online world, you force your body to skip the important theta and alpha stages and go straight from the delta stage to being wide awake and alert (also known as the beta state).”
Rai says that skipping these important brain wave transitions, we’re setting ourselves up for distraction for the rest of the day.
To encourage a tech-free morning, keep your phone in another room overnight so you’re not tempted to grab it first thing when you wake up. If you can't bear the thought of that, put your phone in airplane mode and keep it that way until you've been awake for a few minutes.
Morning is a great time for creativity, so instead of bogging yourself down with emails and social media, find another way to spend this valuable time, like reading, journaling, or drafting a hand-written list of things to do today.
Find a moment of gratitude
There’s one simple habit you can add to your morning routine that will surely change your life, according to research. It’s as easy as keeping a notebook of what makes you feel grateful.
“Gratitude journals and other gratitude practices often seem so simple and basic; in our studies, we often have people keep gratitude journals for just three weeks,” says Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. “And yet the results have been overwhelming. We’ve studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits.”
They include: more optimism, feeling more alert, feeling more outgoing, and physical benefits such as a stronger immune system, better sleep and lower blood pressure.
“In effect, I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness. We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators,” says Emmons.
Keep a notebook or gratitude journal by your bed, so you can reflect on the first thing in the morning. After a few weeks, you’re likely to see a big change. Not just in your morning routine, but your entire life.
Prioritize consistency and habits
How many days out of the week does your morning routine look the same? If it’s fewer than 3, you probably don’t have a routine.
Even on the weekends, your mornings should generally be the same as during the week. Keeping up that consistency can help improve your sleep and energy levels throughout the day.
If a consistent morning schedule sounds intimidating or you’ve been unable to keep them up in the past, start slow.
What are some habits or actions you can implement without fail? Maybe it’s making your bed or saying an affirmation. Don’t feel like you have to build a perfect morning routine all at once. Whatever you're able to keep doing consistently, start with that. Then incorporate a few more habits slowly over time.