A better routine in the morning could not only result in a more productive and happier day, it could also bring better health, experts say. Some of the benefits of a good morning routine are more energy, less irritability, even weight management — and all it requires is a bit of planning and a few new habits. Here are some morning hacks from the experts:
INSTEAD OF hitting the snooze button a dozen times
TRY waking up at the same time every day
Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule will help you get more zzzzs and also help you wake up more easily. “By going to bed and waking at the same time every day, you will keep the biological rhythms in harmony that govern sleep/wake patterns,” says Dr. Stuart Fogel, a sleep researcher and director of the University of Ottawa’s Sleep Research Laboratory, which studies sleep functions and dysfunctions. “This makes falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning easier.” Before long you’ll be waking up feeling chipper instead of groggy. “You may find that you don’t even need an alarm clock anymore,” says Dr. Fogel.
INSTEAD OF jumping out of bed
TRY slowly waking up with meditation
“If you can practice a period of two to five minutes of deep breathing and focus, you give your body a gentle introduction to the day’s events,” says Daniel Smith, a canfitpro-certified trainer, wellness expert and founder of onlythestrongINC, a fitness facility in Toronto. Too often we literally jump out of bed and head right into work or to an appointment, which can trigger a stress response from the body – and generally set the wrong tone for the day, he says. All it takes is a few minutes to clear your mind and set your intentions. “Scheduling an extra few minutes before you need to be up to simply breathe will start your day the right way,” says Smith.
INSTEAD OF skipping breakfast
TRY prioritizing your morning meal
Nishta Saxena, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in Toronto, says skipping breakfast can sabotage energy levels, make you irritable and even trick your body into thinking it’s not getting any fuel, which triggers unnecessary fat storage. That doesn’t mean you have to eat immediately, but you should nosh within a few hours of waking – and it should be a well-balanced meal. Aim for a mix of protein, fibre, healthy fats and fruit or vegetables. “I’m a big fan of vegetables at breakfast,” she says. “A pretty perfect breakfast to me would be something like huevos rancheros with black beans, avocado, eggs, a bit of fruit on the side – and a coffee!”
INSTEAD OF fumbling around in the dark
TRY letting the sunshine in
“When you wake up in the morning it is best to open up all the curtains to get as much bright, natural light as possible,” says Fogel. This will help you feel more awake, boost your mood and reinforce your circadian rhythm, the researcher says. According to a study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, this might even help with weight management. In the 2012 study, people who took a few minutes to enjoy some sunlight within two hours of waking were thinner and better able to manage their weight compared with those who didn’t get much natural light.
INSTEAD OF waiting until later in the day to hit the gym
TRY morning workouts
“One of the greatest benefits to starting your day with exercise is the endorphin release,” says Smith. This chemical cascade in the brain, triggered by a quick sweat session, can boost your mood and energy levels, setting the tone for the day. The session doesn’t have to be intense. Do what feels good and doable — a yoga class, spin class — as long as you are doing it on a regular basis, he says. “I prescribe a simple early morning walk to many of my clients and they feel that alone to be an effective method of activity.”