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Morning Routines

As the name suggests, a morning routine is a series of activities you do between the hours of waking up and starting the day. Perhaps you’ve heard of the concept before. Recently, they have been gaining traction in pop culture. Articles and videos have dedicated themselves into exploring the schedules of CEOs, celebrities and famous historical figures. Kate Hudson takes a facial ice bath after waking up. Lea Michele takes steam showers. Benjamin Franklin would sit down and write down his goals every morning. Steve Jobs would look in the mirror and remind himself of his dreams. There are several sources that advise you on productive ways to start your day and become successful. However, do these techniques actually produce results? Today, we’ll discuss the science behind morning routines and what can help build a healthier one.

Morning routines have several purposes. Some people choose to use the time to get an earlier start on the work. Others choose to get a more restful and refreshing morning. Whether it be through getting a more fulfilling breakfast, walking the dog, or looking through emails, a morning routine has the potential to establish physical and mental benefits.

The first step in making a morning routine is, of course, setting a time to wake up. Popular articles like to highlight the importance of waking up early, especially by talking about celebrities that do the same. Oprah wakes up around six, Michelle Obama gets up before four thirty and Tim Cook, Apple CEO, wakes up as early as three forty-five in the morning. According to these articles, it appears that waking up early is the way to go.

However, science seems to actually suggest the opposite. According to the study performed by Perry, Patil and Presley-Cantrell (2013), sleep is an often neglected area in adults and children. In fact, it’s suggested the lack of sleep and sleep quality has now become a public health issue. Getting less than seven hours of sleep per night can lead to obesity, diabetes, poor mood, high stress and even heart disease. Despite this, more than 35% of adults report getting insufficient sleep every night. So when picking a time to wake up, make sure you’re getting enough sleep to help you wake up refreshed and energetic. As a reminder, the recommended amount of sleep is 7-8 hours for adults, 9 hours for adolescents and 9-12 hours for children. This may vary from individual to individual, so make sure to pay attention to what amount of sleep makes you need.

After you’ve decided a proper time to wake up, think about what you’d like to get done in the morning. In Arlinghaus and Johnston’s article of The Importance of Creating Habits, they discuss the structure of long-term lifestyle changes. Implementation of a lifestyle routine is a timely process and unlike habits, not dependent on a cue. Complex combinations or behaviors, such as physical activity, take more time to adapt than simpler routines, like eating a piece of fruit after lunch. This could be because more complex behaviors require more decisions on the part of the individual and therefore, demand more effort than less complicated behaviors. In other words, pick a morning routine that doesn’t require you to do something outside of your typical habits and take things one step at a time.

Just like habits, it’s important to know your personality in thinking of a morning routine. What type of activities might help you get a healthier start to the day? You might prefer to do something physical, like getting in an early jog, walking your dog, or doing some yoga. You might change your diet, like eating fruits every morning or spending some more time on making a more nutritional breakfast. If none of those options work for you, perhaps you might enjoy using the free time to catch up on other activities like listening to podcasts, journaling, or reading a book.

Morning routines can allow you to get a healthier start to the day. Whether it be through physical activity, breakfast, or some other type of mindfulness exercise, it’ll be helpful to choose something that won’t require much effort for you to establish. Try looking for something that you already enjoy doing or wouldn’t stray too far from what you usually do in the mornings. And most importantly, it’s important not to wake up early to start your morning routine. Otherwise, you might do your health more harm than good. Maybe your morning routine can simply be getting another hour of sleep!

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