The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.
How you start the morning can significantly impact the rest of your day. Over time, your morning routine can also really move the needle when it comes to your long-term health.
Consistency is the first and arguably most important part of a good routine. Sleep is a crucial component of our overall health, and to optimize our sleep quality, our bodies need a consistent bedtime and waketime schedule. Even if some days allow you to sleep in, you should find a consistent time to wake up every morning, regardless of the day of the week.
The exception to this rule is if your schedule does not allow you to get 7 hours of sleep nightly and you rely on one or two mornings a week to catch up on your sleep debt. This is not ideal, but in this case, just getting enough sleep quantity is more important than establishing a consistent wake time.
How you wake up also matters. This may seem obvious, but being startled by a blaring alarm isn’t exactly conducive to a mellow, stress-free start to your day. Using a gradual alarm that uses light to wake you up instead of sound can be a great alternative to help you rise in a way that more naturally resembles how we are supposed to wake up.
What about all the coffee you need to knock back before you can function in the mornings? First of all, you shouldn’t be that dependent on coffee to wake you up in the mornings. There is nothing inherently unhealthy about everyone’s favorite caffeinated drink. Still, it is important to note that if we are fueling accordingly and getting adequate sleep, our bodies should be primed and alert within 20 minutes of waking up without needing any outside stimulants.
It is best to delay your first cup of coffee in the morning to at least a full hour after you wake up. This allows your body’s cortisol levels to rise on their own and avoids the extra simulation when your circadian rhythm is already working to elevate stress hormone levels in your body.
If your morning routine begins with a scroll session on your phone, you’re setting yourself up for failure all day
Then, there is movement. Now, whether or not you like to work out early in the mornings is a personal preference and largely dependent on what your circumstances and schedule allow for. However, a quick 5-7 minutes of morning movement can significantly benefit your energy levels, mood, and cognitive alertness. This can be something as simple as 5 minutes of flow stretching or even a simple walk, but some movement is key to a healthy morning routine.
Finally, we have that little blue-light-emitting device that probably charges on your nightstand overnight and doubles as your alarm clock. If unlocking your phone and opening your email, social media, or news app is the first thing you do when you wake up, please raise your hand.
Ok, put your hand down. Stop doing that. Changing that habit alone is probably the best thing you can do to improve your morning routine. Our minds are not prepared for that level of stimulation first thing in the morning. Our brain waves need to gradually transition from deep sleep to fully alert. By diving straight into the digital world of sensationalized headlines, work emails, and unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives on social media, we are hijacking our brains and going from 0 to 100 real quick.
The key takeaway? How you start your day matters. If you want to dial in your morning routine, aim for consistency and delay your first cup of coffee and when you first check your phone to at least a full hour after waking up.
Instead of firing back emails or reading up on the latest celebrity gossip first thing in the morning, try going for a walk or doing some simple flow yoga instead. That might just be the secret to living a long life, just like Queen Elizabeth II.
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