Updated: Sep 21
How you start your day has such an impact on how the rest of your day goes. Mornings look different for everyone. Whether you have kids to get ready for school, pets to walk and feed, significant others or just aren't a morning person. Here are some tips that may help make your mornings more streamlined:
Set one Alarm: This could sound scary at first, so ease into it. Have you ever needed to be at the airport at an ungodly hour? Did you wake up at the first alarm then? You are capable of waking up at the first alarm. You have gotten comfortable with the ability to shut it off and fall back asleep.
The sleep you get between alarms is not good quality. Your body and mind are recovering throughout your sleep cycle. The average sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes, multiple alarms are just interrupting this. Even if your alarms are only in the last half hour of your sleep, it adds up. That's four hours a week and the effects get worse over time. Research has shown that those who feel the impact of this the most are women aged 35-55. Losing 90 minutes of sleep a night reduces your daytime alertness by 32% and that has impacts in all aspects of your life.
So, how do we accomplish this:
Figure out how long you need to get ready in the morning: We will get into ways on how to shorten this. Depending on your life, give it a week or so, find the max amount of time, and work with that.
Give yourself a 15-30 minute window for potential mishaps (or just to savor those last couple minutes): Not to fall back to sleep, but we are human. We do not spring out of bed every morning.
Set your one alarm for that time every day: There is lots of research suggesting going to bed and waking up at the same time. For some that may not be realistic, but shoot for it being within an hour or two every day.
Test it out on the weekend: Yep, wake up at a weekday time on a weekend. Practice what you need to get done. If you need to do this for multiple weekends to build the habit, do it.
Prepare as much of what you need for the next day the night before: Make your lunches, prepare what you can for breakfast, set out what you plan on wearing the next day. If you are going to the gym have your bag packed and ready to go. Locate your keys and wallet, whatever you seem to lose time on in the morning. Know what you are doing the next day and do everything you can to set yourself up for success.
Areas to save time:
Scrolling through your phone: Don't touch it until you're out of the house.
Deciding what to wear: Pick your clothes out the night before. Don't forget your socks. This is a big one I recommend for people trying to make a habit of coming to the gym more often.
Getting ready for work: I feel like I in my gym attire should not be telling corporate office employees to spend less time getting ready. But see if there are any areas you are spending too much time on that you can cut back on.
Food: Prepare as much as you can before hand. Have your full day stacked together rather than as each item. Doesn't need to be in the fridge? Put it on the counter beside the fridge, or take it a step further and put it in your bag so it's ready to go.
Leaving the house: Is there anything you can have in your car before you wake up that you won't miss while getting ready? I leave my gym shoes in my car, I don't need them in my house. This is kind of dependent on the area you live in and how much stuff you are bringing in and out each day. But setting it beside the door works too.
Find out where you are losing time in the morning, see if there is anything you can do to trim off a few minutes. This can allow you to have a longer sleep or even just a lower stress morning.
Go to bed earlier: The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep. Someone working a day job should not be going to bed ridiculously late. Once you have your morning routine and wake up time set, go back 7-9 hours. That is your bed time now. Make it happen.
Sometimes life doesn't allow for that. Be prepared when that happens. If you know you have a late night coming up in your week maybe you cut a few things out of what you need to get done the next morning. You prepare more in advance than you usually do. Instead of sitting down to eat breakfast you make some overnight oats that you can eat at your desk when you get to work.
Eat a good breakfast: Protein and fiber are your friends. Aim for around 30 grams of protein, but just making a point to include it will be beneficial. Protein is great for muscle function and immunity. Both fiber and protein take longer to break down than simple sugars, keeping you full longer with blood glucose levels. This gives you fuel for your day without the crash.
Wait an hour or two before consuming caffeine: Allow your body to do what it is naturally designed to do before stunting that process with stimulants. You may even find you don't require as much as you thought. It is also recommended that you do not consume caffeine on an empty stomach.
Cell phones: Do not look at your phone until you have accomplished everything you need to in the morning. There are so many negative impacts on your productivity and wellbeing. Responding an hour or two earlier to an email or text is not worth it.
Why is it not worth it?
Overwhelming Information: Opening your phone exposes you to a barrage of information, including emails, social media updates, news alerts, and notifications. This flood of information can be overwhelming and stressful, setting a chaotic tone for your day.
Loss of Focus: Checking your phone can immediately divert your attention away from your morning routine and priorities. It's easy to get sucked into emails or social media, which can delay your morning routine and make you feel rushed.
Increased Stress: Reading work-related emails or messages as soon as you wake up can trigger stress and anxiety. It's challenging to relax and mentally prepare for the day ahead when you're already thinking about work-related issues.
Loss of Mindfulness: Morning is a precious time for mindfulness and self-care. Checking your phone disrupts this opportunity for introspection and sets a reactive tone for the day, rather than a proactive one.
Negative Content: News and social media often contain negative or distressing content. Starting your day with such information can impact your mood and outlook on life.
Reduced Productivity: Scrolling through your phone in the morning can be a time sink. It can lead to procrastination and decrease your overall productivity.
Sleep Disruption: If you use your phone as an alarm, checking it in the morning increases the temptation to hit the snooze button and disrupt your sleep cycle.
Distraction from Morning Rituals: Morning rituals like exercise, meditation, or simply enjoying a calm breakfast can be essential for starting the day on a positive note. Checking your phone can disrupt these rituals.
Dependency: Constantly checking your phone creates a dependency on external stimuli for your mood and self-esteem. It's healthier to derive your sense of well-being from internal sources and personal achievements.
Setting Boundaries: Checking your phone first thing in the morning blurs the line between work and personal life. It's important to set boundaries and allocate time for work-related tasks separately from your personal time.
To mitigate these negative effects, many experts recommend adopting a morning routine that doesn't involve checking your phone immediately upon waking up. Instead, consider starting your day with activities that promote mindfulness, physical health, and mental well-being. This could include meditation, stretching, journaling, or simply enjoying a peaceful breakfast. By doing so, you can set a positive tone for your day and reduce stress and distractions.
Get some sunlight: Easier said than done for a good chunk of the year, but there are solutions. Morning sunlight exposure, as little as 15 minutes can help regulate your sleep wake cycle and circadian rhythm.
Morning Sunlight exposure has been shown to improve vitamin D production, which reduces fatigue and can improve your immune system. It can also improve your mood and mental health through increased levels of serotonin. Morning sunlight exposure can improve your melatonin production and lead to better sleep and overall cognitive function. It also has been shown to support healthy weight by regulating hormones, appetite and metabolism. It is also great for your skin!
So, how do we accomplish this:
Open your curtains: In a perfect world, the sun would match our sleep times so we can have curtains open all night long, have it dark enough to get a good sleep when we should be asleep and wake up with the sun. This is also assuming there isn't artificial light outside. Since that is not the case, make that the first thing you do when you get out of bed. Got someone else still sleeping? Leave them in the dark and open all the curtains where you are getting ready.
Go outside: This can look different for everyone. Some of us are blessed with 4 legged friends who need to go outside or for a walk first thing. Others may need to get creative. Open the window while you get ready, drink your coffee/eat breakfast outside, Stand outside while you brush your teeth. The earlier the better, but something is better than nothing.
Artificial Options: I have found using a sunrise light to be beneficial, it simulates a sunrise in your bedroom. Downfall is if you are not alone, you may wake up at a different time than your partner. Also using dimmer lights, red lights or less artificial lights in your home as you wake up allow you to wake up more "naturally".
Avoid blue light in the evenings: Blue light from our screens has been shown to disrupt your circadian rhythm because it mimics natural daylight. This leads to suppressed melatonin production and delayed onset of sleep.
Blue light is great for keeping you alert throughout the day but when you are trying to wind down for the day, it is not as beneficial. It reduces your sleep quality by reducing the amount of time you spend in REM sleep, which is the time where your brain and body really recover from the day. Chronic sleep disruption can lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and mood disorders.
How do we do this
Remove blue light from your bedroom: Tv's, computers, cellphones, even some clocks. You want your bedroom to be dark.
Use dimming, red or warm lights in the evening: This simulates natural sunlight in the evening, which has less of an impact on your melatonin production. The lower light in the evening signals your body that it is time to prepare for sleep.
Limit your screen time or use blue light filters: Our tech has some really handy features allowing you to change the brightness or your phone with the sun, set up do not disturb and screen time restrictions that can help you reduce how much blue light you are getting right before bed. Best practice would be to separate yourself from the screens to allow for that reduced mental stimulation to also aid in your bedtime routine.
Leave your technology at home and go for an evening walk: Especially during sunset. It is a great way to disconnect, get some movement in and allow the natural light to encourage your natural circadian rhythm to get you ready to sleep.
Establishing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities like reading a physical book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime to promote relaxation.