With the days approaching their shortest, it’s increasingly likely that you’re getting up an hour or more before the sun rises. While early mornings can be difficult even during the warmer months, now, with falling temperatures and the absence of stimulating sunlight, waking up can be downright brutal. As your morning sets the tone for your day, it’s extra important to have a consistent and efficient post-wakeup routine that prepares you for the day and lets you put your best foot forward. Here are 7 tips that will improve your morning, as well as raise your energy levels for the entire day:
1) Kill the Snooze When under your covers is so much warmer than the air in your bedroom, it’s more tempting than usual to hit the snooze button on your alarm and drift back to sleep for five, ten, or fiveteen minutes. Don’t submit! Snoozing for another few minutes throws off your body’s internal clock, tricking it into thinking you’re really going back to sleep. The result is that when you wake up fifteen minutes later, your body is confused and you’ll feel more groggy and less alert.
Instead, set your alarm for when you know you absolutely have to get up and then jump out of bed when it goes off. You’ll have slept longer and feel better. (Read more here)
2) Morning Stretches and Yoga
After you’ve hopped out of bed without hitting the snooze, try taking five or ten minutes to stretch. Moving and bending your body first off has a series of benefits, including increasing your body temperature, shaking off muscle and joint stiffness from the night, and acting as a mental release and relaxation that will carry through to the rest of your day.
3) Keep the TV OFF
Watching the morning news is part of many people’s morning routine, yet screen time in the morning is not the ideal way to start your day. Loud commercials and bright, quickly moving pictures both tend to chip away at our state of relaxation and increase our anxiety. Instead of getting the news for the TV, try listening to public radio or another audio news source with no or limited advertisements.
Even better would be to read the paper or a book, listen to music (I’m partial to classical in the morning), or work on that weekly crossword. You’ll appreciate the calm and quiet and be refreshed for the day.
4) Running Late? Grab a Smoothie!
When you’re short on time it’s easy to just grab a piece of toast or a banana and run out the door. Skipping (or skimping) on breakfast is, however, one of the worst decisions you can make in the morning. A breakfast with whole grains, protein, fruit, and vegetables gives you energy until lunch and allows your digestive system to get off on the right track. If you don’t have time to sit down, try throwing some fruit (I like bananas, apples, and frozen blueberries), vegetables (I go for a handful of spinach and a few carrots) into the blender with a cup of orange juice or skim milk. Add almond butter or yogurt and you’ll have a balanced, high protein meal that’s ready to run out to the car with you.
5) Reduce Your Decisions
Instead of trying to figure out your day’s outfit after you wakeup or making a shopping list in the morning, try front-loading these decisions to the night before. The less you have to decide in the morning, the more relaxed you’ll be and the more time you’ll have. Making a list before you go to sleep of the things you want to accomplish the next day can help too – that way when you wake up you already have a thought out plan and can focus on enjoying the morning (or at least making it to work on time). A bonus is that you get to check off your accomplishments during the day, an action that always feels good.
6) Brighten Up Your Mornings
Right when you get up, open those shades so light can (or will be able to) come in. If it’s dark for a while after you get up, a lightbox, which simulates the sun’s light, can be a good option (read more here). The brain and the body both respond to light, which helps regulate melatonin levels and early exposure to which has been linked to lower BMI and leaner bodies.
7) SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP
While all these tips are great, nothing will improve your morning as much as will a proper night’s sleep. While the time needed asleep is different for everyone, most adults need from 7-9 hours every night. Going to bed not only early enough, but at the same time every night is the best way to ensure that when the alarm goes on in the morning, you’re ready to go.