6 Ways to Become a Morning Person, According to Science
Not a morning person? Research suggests these simple tweaks can help you start the day feeling more alert, mindful and energized.
Not Everyone is Born a Morning Person
If you wake up each morning in a groggy haze, you can blame your body clock: “Circadian rhythms are longer than a 24-hour day, so our sleep clock pushes us later,” says Rebecca Scott of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center—Sleep Center.
This means shut-eye acts like a dimmer switch rather than an on/off switch. It takes time to ease into sleep at night and time to feel fully alert in the morning, which is why, says Scott, you feel like you need 10 to 20 minutes to fully wake up.
These simple tweaks to your routine can get your body back on track faster, so you face the day mindful and energized.
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1. When Your Alarm Rings, Don’t Hit Snooze
Just those few minutes of extra slumber can trick your body into thinking it doesn’t need to wake up after all. When you do hear a second alarm, you may find yourself experiencing what scientists call sleep inertia (the rest of us call it grogginess), which can be characterized by decreased cognitive and motor skills.
2. Stretch Before You Get Out of Bed
Morning movement helps you improve your coordination and sharpen your mind. “Any full-body stretch will help,” says Scott. Focus on breathing, and use this moment of calm to set your most important goals for the day.
Try these stretching techniques:
Seated side bend: Cross your legs, hands at your sides on the bed. Arc your left arm up and bend right, softening your right elbow so your forearm now rests on the bed. Take a few deep breaths, then do the same on the other side.
Seated forward bend: Sit cross-legged on the bed and walk your hands forward, stretching your torso as far as feels comfortable.
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3. Open the Curtains As Soon As You Get Up
Early exposure to sunlight helps you regulate your circadian clock and feel more awake. It also has a surprising bonus effect, according to a 2014 study from Northwestern University. People whose daily light exposure took place in the morning tended to have a lower body mass index than those who were exposed to light later.
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4. Head Outside for a Walk Before Eating Breakfast
If hunger pangs are knocking, your body is asking for fuel. Skip to the breakfast section below, or at least grab a pre-walk banana. Moving around in outdoor light early in the day has been shown to reset your internal clock. By encouraging your body to use stored fat, not breakfast’s carbohydrates, for energy, pre-meal exercise also trims your waistline. “Any cardiovascular exercise is good, even for a short period,” says Scott.
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5. Boost Your Stamina While Brushing Your Teeth
Practise an easy but effective core exercise as you brush. Balance on one foot. When you change mouth quadrants (about every 30 seconds), switch feet.
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6. When You Finally Eat Breakfast, Pick Nutrients That Last
The right mix of nutrients at breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helps build muscle, strengthens your bones and gives you more energy.
Amy Gorin, a New Jersey–based registered dietitian, recommends packing your morning meal with 20 to 25 grams of protein to ensure you’ll feel full and satisfied until lunch. You could make a parfait by topping plain Greek yogourt with a half cup of pomegranate arils, two tablespoons of pistachios and two teaspoons of chia seeds for added protein and fibre. Or scramble two eggs, which provide easily absorbed, high-quality protein.
Then add a side of vitamin C, an antioxidant that leads to a stronger immune system. Toss pineapple chunks (79 milligrams per cup) into your yogourt to help meet your daily requirement of 75 to 90 milligrams. If you choose eggs instead of yogourt, add in tomato or broccoli.
For more invigorating breakfast ideas, check out 8 Energy-Boosting Foods That Will Definitely Wake You Up!