As you start the year with your motivation high and your sights set on new goals, it’s important to get your day off to the best start possible.
Motivational experts say, we are what we consistently do, so here are some simple habits, so you can start each morning in a productive and positive way regardless of what time you get out of bed. The small changes to your routine aim to not only boost your mood and energy, but will increase sleep quality and recover from exercise too.
Put Your Alarm Out of Reach
Let’s face it: Unless you have another hour or 2 to sleep, hitting the snooze button won’t help you feel less tired. But there’s another reason to get up when you first hear that annoying beep. When you get up and go to bed at the same time every day, you’ll keep your body’s internal clock in sync. That makes you more alert in the morning, and sleepy when it’s time to call it a night. On week nights especially, aim to go to bed and get up at the same time everyday.
Let in the Light
As soon as you wake, open the curtains or blinds. Or step outside. Natural light gets your brain going and keeps your body clock on track. If it’s gloomy out, turn on the lights. A light-up alarm clock can help. And it may be less jarring than a noisy alarm. If you struggle with a.m. brain fog or have seasonal affective disorder or depression, try a light box (or sunlamp). It can lift your mood and help you feel more awake.
Have a Cup of Coffee
Just make sure your first cup is the caffeinated kind. Caffeine pumps up brain chemicals like dopamine. They boost your mood, spike your energy levels, and help you focus. (Regular coffee drinkers are also less likely to get the blues than those who rarely or never sip the strong stuff.) Not a fan? Opt for a cup of black or green tea. They have caffeine plus other healthy compounds.
Make Morning Exercise a Priority
Exercise will get your blood pumping and rev up your nervous system. You’ll feel more alert in the moment and hours later, too. If you work out first thing, you’ll fall asleep more easily than if you do it later. At least try for several hours before bedtime. Any later and you may find it hard to nod off. Or do yoga, it’s proven to ease insomnia.
Power Down Before Bedtime
Bright lights at night can reduce your melatonin levels (that’s a hormone that helps you feel sleepy). And it isn’t just overhead bulbs that can have you counting sheep. The glow of cell phones, computers, and TVs also slows melatonin production. The fix: Dim the lights in your home, and turn off all screens and tech tools at least an hour before you plan to hit the hay.
Skip the Nightcap
Yes, alcohol makes you feel sleepy. But it makes it harder to stay asleep and can make you feel groggy in the morning, too. If you do need to have a drink, stick to one drink and have it with dinner, or at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
This hormone helps your system get ready for sleep. It plays a role in keeping your body clock in check, too. If you have trouble dozing off or you’re off-schedule because of travel or a new routine, a melatonin supplement may help. Stick to a small dose (0.3-1 milligrams) taken an hour before bed. And always talk to your doctor before taking any new medication.
Find a Good Wind-Down Routine
A relaxing evening helps you fall asleep. Avoid stressors like email and tough talks with family members at least an hour before bed. To get in the mood for slumber, you can meditate, stretch, take a warm shower or bath, or read a book in a low-lit room. If you get at least 7 hours a night but you’re still worn out, see the doctor. A health problem or a sleep disorder like sleep apnea may be to blame.
There is no doubt that a good night’s sleep and waking up to a good morning will always go hand in hand. Mornings don’t have to be something that you dread, and following these simple steps could perhaps help you to finally be that energetic morning person.