Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, it’s safe to say that we could all do with a little extra energy first thing in the morning. To help you get the most out of your waking hours, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Fitbug to bring you 8 easy ways you can make the most out of your mornings:
1. Power down to rest up
First things first: if you want to wake up rested, it goes without saying that you need a decent night’s sleep first. This may sound obvious, but the fact is most of us (56%, according to a 2014 study carried out at the University of Hertfordshire) are sleep deprived. It’s no wonder, then, we find it hard to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning.
For a better night’s sleep, turn off all electronic devices and smartphones an hour or so before bed. Read a book, take a bath, or meditate: whatever it takes to make sure you’re powering down, not up, so you can wake up refreshed.
2. You snooze, you lose
Want to wake up feeling energized and ready to go? Ditch the snooze button. As tempting as it may be to snuggle down for an extra 5 or 10 minutes of sleep, the best way to start your morning feeling alert is to wake up at the same time every day.
Sleep expert at the Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Centre, Gemma Peach, says this is because each sleep cycle begins with deep sleep, and ends in light, making it easier to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle. Because each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, when you press the snooze button, you’re likely to wake yourself out of a deep sleep. The official term for that groggy feeling when you wake up from deep sleep is “sleep inertia” which severely hampers your productivity and can take up to 2 hours to wear off.
3. Rise and shine
Want to lose weight and feel more alert? Open the curtains. As well as shutting down production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, studies show that early morning exposure to daylight may even help you lose weight.
In a study conducted at Northwestern University, researchers found that participants who got just 20 minutes more daylight between 8.00am and noon had a lower BMI than those who didn’t, regardless of age, diet or activity levels.
4. Drink up
Feeling foggy? Drink up! According to a survey carried out by the Natural Hydration Council, one in ten cases of fatigue is caused by dehydration. Dr Roger Henderson, GP in Shropshire and adviser to the Natural Hydration Council, says:
“Many of my patients do not drink enough fluid each day and only believe they are dehydrated when they start to feel thirsty. Yet other symptoms of dehydration appear before this, including fatigue and tiredness, headaches and poor concentration.”
Fitbug nutritionist Laura Tilt says: “Even mild dehydration can cause us to feel fatigued and fuzzy headed – drinking a glass of water after waking will help to rehydrate your body, helping you feel more alert.”
5. Have a power breakfast
For maximum energy and minimal cravings, start your day with a healthy breakfast. Here’s what Tilt suggests:
“A breakfast that contains both protein and carbs will stabilise your energy and hunger levels throughout the morning. Studies show a higher protein breakfast can help to maintain blood glucose levels more evenly, supplying your brain with a steady stream of glucose. Try oatmeal topped with Greek yoghurt and blueberries (these can boost blood flow to the brain), or eggs with whole grain toast.”
Want better decision-making skills? Start the day with meditation. According to a study carried out by the Association for Psychological Science, spending just 15 minutes on a meditation exercise may help you make smarter decisions, by training you to filter unnecessary information and focus solely on the present moment.
For extra points, follow your meditation up with a workout, like joining your local running event, such as one of those organised by Vitality’s partner parkrun. A recent study published in Translational Psychiatry found that participants who followed a 30 minute session of meditation with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise reported fewer symptoms of both anxiety and depression, after 8 weeks.
8. Grab a cup of coffee
When it comes to our health, coffee gets a bad rep, but is it really that dangerous? Research shows that in moderation, your morning cup of Joe may actually be good for you. A 2014 study carried out at Harvard University found that people who increased their coffee intake by more than a cup a day reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 10%.