A morning routine can be a powerful tool to elevate your day and keep you happy and productive. Routines come in all different shapes and sizes – meaning that to find your right routine, you need to understand what works best for you.
- Waking up as early as possible is not always the best idea
- Settings too many goals can be counterproductive
- Exercising before eating can be a good way to lose weight
Here are some tips to build a ‘wake-up’ strategy that suits you.
Are we all early rises?
Undoubtedly, morning routines are a fantastic way of setting the tone for the day. For some people, getting up early can give them time to think about and plan their day. Many people have cited that very early morning can be peaceful and less distracting than the rest of the day. For example, it can be a good time to check emails or plan your work for the day as there are fewer people to interrupt your flow. Being an early-riser can also help with international working. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he rises as early as 03:45 to make sure he can catch emails from across the US time zones.
Having a morning routine does not always mean that you have to wake up as early as possible if this does not suit your schedule or situation. As mentioned by Bryan Lufkin at the BBC, “it can even be counterproductive.”
In-fact plenty of research has been published that indicates there are genetic differences in the general alertness of people in the morning. As explained by Amanda Ruggeri, “roughly one in four of us, tend more toward bright-eyed early risers, and another one in four are night owls.” Back in 2019, this was further elaborated by the Nature Communications journal that looked at data from over 700,000 people and found over 350 genetic factors that may influence the way in which people feel in the morning. This should be considered when thinking about morning routines. If you’re not a morning person, adapt your routine to less thought-intensive activities and leave the productivity to later.
Before you start, work out what’s necessary
Often when people think about a morning routine lots of ideas come to mind – and these ideas can start to pile up. Research surrounding routines has heavily indicated that if too many changes are made too quickly, it will be very difficult for someone to adapt and may even result in behavior relapse (worsening the situation). A study found that when establishing routines, “health care provides can aim to add in one or two changes at a time, slowly building a routine for health.” Slowly changing your morning routine is far more likely to be successful and give you the productivity or health boost you desire.
Ideas for the morning
So, what are some ideas to get your morning off to a great start?
Get outside early. Research by Karen Van Proeyen and colleagues indicated that working out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is an effective energy boosting and weight loss strategy. This is because the energy spent by the workout is not simply burning off what you have just eaten. This, coupled with more exposure to sunlight, can help to regulate and set your body’s circadian rhythm, the process that regulates your sleep cycle. According to research, one-hour morning walks during one-hour of natural sunlight can also help to regulate depressive moods. So if you’re feeling down or simply want a little boost, try incorporating a morning walk or run into your routine, especially during winter to fend off those winter blues!
Establishing the routine
Don’t be discouraged if establishing a routine is difficult at first. A study in the United Kingdom examined how long it would take for adults to form a healthy habit. It was found that; “On average it took 66 days before habits became automatic for participants” and “physical activity behaviors, took 1.5 times longer to become automatic.” Routines are not formed overnight.
The most important aspect of routine forming is finding one that works for you and that fits in with your lifestyle. Remember, “One of the greatest challenges to lifestyle medicine is patient adherence.”
Brodwin, Erin. “What your morning routine should look like, according to science.” Science. (2017). https://www.businessinsider.com/morning-routine-according-to-science-2017-12?r=US&IR=T.
Johnston, Craig A. “The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 13.2 (2019): 142-144. doi: 10.1177/1559827618818044.
Lufkin, Bryan. “Is waking up early good or bad?” (2019). https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20190213-is-waking-up-early-good-or-bad.
Ruggeri, Amanda. “Why you shouldn’t try to be a morning person.” (2017). https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20171114-why-you-shouldnt-try-to-be-a-morning-person.
Van Proeyen et al. “Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet.” The Journal of Physiology. 588.21 (2010): 4289-4302. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.196493.