Have you seen that riddle that goes like, ‘It’s 3 am and someone is knocking on your door (how rude)? It’s your parents, and they want breakfast. You have jam, honey, bread, wine, and cheese. What do you open first?’
To accomplish anything, you first have to open your eyes and get out of bed! Most of us start our days just that way, by opening our eyes. But after that, morning routines vary. There are some fabulous ways to start your day off right, and then there are these five morning habits that you should avoid if you want to have the best day possible.
Some of these habits, like hitting the snooze button, having coffee and sugary foods, and taking a hot shower, affect your bodily functions. Looking at your phone first thing in the morning and staying curled in the fetal position can also affect your mental health and wellness. Staying clear of these habits will make sure your day gets going on the right foot.
Resist the temptation to hit the snooze button
You are resting peacefully, probably right in the middle of the best part of a dream, when suddenly this obnoxious noise interrupts your thoughts. The dreaded alarm. Now, there are two types of people: those who wake up moments before the alarm goes off and turn it off, and those who hit the snooze button.
If you are a snoozer, then you aren’t alone. According to a USA Today survey, more than a third of American adults hit the snooze button every morning an average of three times. My husband does this all the time, and it drives me crazy. At most, you get another 9 minutes of sleep. What are you really going to do with that? Not much, and it’s doing you more harm than good.
The reason you are having such a good dream right around the time your alarm goes off is because you are in REM sleep. If you would get out of bed, the REM part of the sleep cycle would end. Those measly nine minutes throw you right back into REM without first achieving light and deep sleep. This makes you feel groggy, and maybe even confused. So, to start your day off right, resist the temptation to hit the snooze button, and try these things instead:
- Go to bed a little earlier. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night, so depending on what time you set your alarm, you might need to go to bed a little earlier.
- Set the clock 15 minutes later. If you don’t want to go to bed earlier, then set the clock for 15 minutes later and get up when it goes off. If you are hitting the snooze button every day, then you don’t need these 15 minutes to get ready, anyway.
- Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible. Invest in a good mattress that meets your needs. Keep the bedroom dark, clean, cool, and quiet.
Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning
Do you bring your phone with you to your bedroom at night? I tried telling my teenager to leave it out in the living room, and her response was, “I can’t, my alarm clock is on it.” She finally got an actual clock, because she couldn’t stop staring at her phone until she fell asleep with it on her face, literally. However, sleeping with your phone isn’t the only problem. You should also resist the urge to look at it first thing in the morning.
I struggle with this habit. The call of my Facebook notifications, overnight emails, and app notifications is strong. Is it really such a nasty habit to have, though? Experts agree that looking at your phone can make you more stressed out and overwhelmed, because of all the information gathered. This flood of information can make us feel awful. This feeling first thing in the morning makes it harder to prioritize tasks, focus, and meet your goals.
I also end up just wasting a bunch of time. It starts as Facebook scrolling, but then I need to check Twitter and Instagram too. After that, I move onto my email, bank accounts, and websites I write for. Then I get sucked into my novel reading app, hoping one of the authors has updated the many books I am reading at the same time. Before I know it, an hour has gone by. I could have used that hour to get my yoga session in first thing in the morning, which is better for you than an evening workout. I’m going to be better and leave my phone out of the bedroom.
Stop staying curled up under your blankets
Now that the alarm clock has stopped screeching, and you have put the phone down, it is time to remove yourself from the cocoon of blankets. On those winter mornings when the temperatures are below freezing, it is really tempting to stay curled up under the blankets.
However, staying curled up in a warm little ball is not the best option. There is evidence that people who wake up in the fetal position feel more stressed out than those who wake up with their arms stretched in a V-shape.
When we sleep, our spinal discs absorb fluid and expand as part of a natural rehydration process. Even though this process is a normal part of our bodily functions, it limits movement of the vertebrae. This makes them stiffen up.
Take a few deep breaths when you first wake up, and then gently stretch your arms up and out. Then add in the legs and take up as much of the bed as possible. Stretching first helps to increase flexibility, relieve tension, and increase circulation.
Skip the steamy shower
Warm water feels good on those stiff joints and tight muscles, so what’s wrong with a nice warm shower? Clearly, part of my resistance to getting up in the morning has to do with being cold… It isn’t so much that a hot shower is bad, but heat triggers your nervous system to tell your muscles to relax, and for your heart rate to slow down. This won’t make you feel awake or rested, in fact, it will make you sleepy.
Turn that shower dial a little more toward the ‘cold’ setting and you will feel energized and invigorated. If that isn’t something you want to do, try taking a nice hot shower at night before bedtime instead of a morning shower. You can use that extra time in the morning to make the bed or do some meditation, both of which will get your day started off right.
Leave the coffee and sweet breakfast foods alone
The most important thing you should put in your body upon waking up is water! Your body has gone 7-8 hours with no fluid, and coffee is not the best choice. The caffeine and diuretic nature of coffee makes dehydration worse. Dehydration is linked to decreased mental performance, so getting that water first thing will help you complete daily tasks.
Breakfast is important for most people, although not everyone does well eating first thing in the morning. Popular breakfast foods like waffles, French toast, pancakes, and bagels taste delicious, but all those carbs and sugar can lead to one big crash right before lunch. A breakfast of eggs, omelets, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or fresh smoothies with protein powder would serve you much better.
According to Aubree Hawley, having protein in the morning “has been shown to benefit muscle health and to support weight loss by increasing muscle mass, energy expenditure (calories burned), satiety hormones, glucose regulation, and by decreasing the desire to snack at night. High protein breakfasts have also been shown to improve the body’s response to a high carbohydrate food up to 4-hours after the breakfast meal.”
Ready to start your day off well?
These are all simple things that can make a significant impact on your day. Starting the morning off sleepy, grumpy, and sluggish is not what we want. No one is saying that you have to suddenly become a cheerful morning person, but ditching these habits will help keep you sharp and focused throughout the day. Being productive, creative, and at your best during the day is something we can all achieve.
So go to bed a little earlier tonight and get a good night’s sleep. Rub the sleep out of your eyes, stretch, and grab some water. As much as I grumble about mornings sometimes, it is important to remember that waking up is a blessing and something we should be grateful for. That sense of gratitude is one of the best ways to start your day off well.