I hate mornings. I hate morning people. I hate the cold morning air that is everywhere except under my warm blanket. I even hate the stupid singing birds. Mornings suck.
I have never ever been a morning person. I typically require a shower, brushed teeth, and at least 15 ounces of coffee before I will even talk to anyone. Normally, I am a pretty poor sleeper, but I can sleep like a baby in those precious morning hours. Yet for some reason I have decided to spend the last month waking up even earlier every single day — even weekends.
Well I started out on a mission to become more productive. Every person I know who is a morning person is super productive, so common sense dictated to me that if I am going to get more done, I need to start waking up earlier.
I read the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and throughout reading the testaments, the research-based evidence, and the fact that every single successful entrepreneur has a morning routine, I became even more convinced that to be more productive, I must become an early riser.
So to be honest, waking up earlier than normal is super hard. Remember, I am the person who HATES mornings. So I have been reading more and more on how to become a morning person. In doing the research, I have discovered one interesting thing that I did not expect. Morning people are not only more productive, but they are healthier.
A 2013 study done in Aachen, Germany studied the brain scans of nearly 60 healthy men, which they divided into three groups: early risers, late nighters, and intermediate. The study found that the early risers actually have more white matter in the brain than the other two groups and considerably more white matter than my group — sad face for the late nighters. White matter refers to the bundles of nerve cells that increases the speed of transmission of all nerve sells. So put simply, early risers have higher cognitive function. No wonder they always seem so productive.
But it gets worse (for me). Not only are these early risers smarter, but they are healthier too! Bastards.
A study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that morning people and people who got at least 7 hours of sleep a night also ate healthier than those who slept in and those who slept less.
Us late nighters crave sugar and fatty foods to give us energy. But those early morning folks have plenty of energy and therefore do not have the need for those bad-for-you foods.
And according to fittnessmagazine.com, morning people are happier, suffer from less stress, are more productive at work, are more alert and reliable, and they lose more weight. Most of these accomplishments occur because those who rise early simply get things done. They workout earlier and set the tone for the day. They are motivated and therefore make better food decisions.
Most morning people plan their day and make lists and write down daily and weekly goals. And according to a study done by University of Toronto researchers, morning people actually tackle their hardest tasks first thing–when people (morning or not) are at their peak efficiency. Morning people just have their sh*t together, okay?
So how do you work on getting better sleep in order to become more productive and boost your health? Especially if you’re used to crazy schedules, Netflix binging, and HATE mornings!?
You create a Sleep Hygiene Plan.
It is best to create a plan that will best fit your lifestyle and your needs, but here are some things to consider in your plan.
- Avoid coffee or caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime.
- Limit alcohol consumption to two to three beverages a day and avoid alcohol two to three hours before bedtime.
- Establish your bedroom as a sleep center.
- Make sure it is dark and quiet.
- Make sure you limit the activities you do in your bedroom to sleep so that your brain begins to connect the room with sleep.
- Keep the temperature cool and well ventilated.
- Establish a pre-sleep routine of 15-30 minutes to prepare your brain for sleep.
During this time consider the following:
- Avoid blue light from TVs, smart phone screens, and computer screens. Blue light blocks the production of melatonin. (Consider using blue-blocking sunglasses)
- Avoid light. Darkness will help the body to produce melatonin.
- Consider implementing a yoga, meditation, or stretch and relax routine. Never underestimate the power of yoga. Yoga has a plethora of benefits, such as digestion, improving blood flow, balancing hormones, increased flexibility, and muscle strengthening all while wearing ultra-comfy yoga pants.
- Avoid reading materials that will spark too much thought production.
- Establish a consistent schedule for sleep time and wake time. It is best to always sleep and always rise within an hour of your established sleep schedule. If you plan to wake at 6am every morning then on the weekends you need to wake no longer than 7am. The body will sleep best when part of a consistent schedule.
- In the morning take vitamin D and eight ounces of water. Vitamin D along with natural light will help you in so many ways, one of which is a better night’s sleep.
And then you create a morning routine.
Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning is truly an amazing book. I mean, I’m waking up 30 minutes earlier than normal on the weekdays and up to an hour or more earlier on the weekend.
Hal has created morning “Life SAVERS” that start his day and have been starting the days for millions of people worldwide. His life savers stand for Silence (meditation or guided thought), Affirmations (telling yourself what you want to believe about yourself, your life, your day), Visualization (seeing yourself each and every day being successful at whatever it is you are trying to do) Exercise (even if it’s just a 15 minute stretching or mobility routine, a quick walk through the neighborhood, or a few push-ups and sit-ups), READING (even if it’s just a paragraph!) and Scribing (writing out your thoughts, making a list, or jotting down your goals for the day).
People who take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour each morning to incorporate these life savers into their routines will undoubtedly become more productive and increase their health, energy, and happiness.
But how do you go from waking up at 7am all the way to 6am without struggle?
You don’t. You start with 10-15 minute increments. If you typically wake up at 7, set your alarm for 6:45 and make sure you have to get out of bed to reach the alarm. DO NOT get back in bed. Drink water. Brush your teeth. Put clothes on–whatever you have to do.
The rest is up to you: you’re awake and out of bed!
Our suggestions for creating a morning routine follow closely to Hal’s. After all, this stuff has a proven success rate.
It doesn’t matter what order you use when you create your routine, just do what feels right for you. Here’s what Steph and I like to do.
- Have some coffee and sit in silence. You can meditate if you want, or simply sit and breathe, or you can focus on a positive word or phrase you’d like to become better with in your life. Words like “confidence,” “patience,” “gratitude,” etc., are easy words to focus on.
- Create a vision board and look at your board for a few minutes. What are your goals? Your “whys”? Meaning, why is this important to you? What do you want to accomplish and what’s your end goal? Put it on the board and focus on your vision. (I will be honest I haven’t done this step yet but Steph has and her board looks really cool.)
- Read a chapter (or just a couple pages) from a book: you can read personal growth books (when you work on you, everything else gets better), you can read business-related books for work, spiritual books, or just for fun fiction novels or magazines. Try to do something good for yourself here and flipping through the internet to catch up on social media doesn’t count!
- Write down your to-do list, your weekly goals, your new affirmation or positive phrase, or just journal something. Make a plan for your day, write out a menu, tackle personal goals and business ideas, whatever you want to write! It doesn’t–and shouldn’t be–long. It only needs to be long enough to get you thinking and your brain feeling confident about the day ahead.
- Move. Thousands of people have actually lost weight and gotten their health back in order just from adding in a good 10-20 minutes of exercise into their morning routine. You don’t have to workout for an hour, you just have to do something good for your body. You can stretch, follow a yoga or other fitness DVD, take your dog for a walk, go for a few sprints around the block–whatever it is, it’s going to improve your health. Since Steph and I typically workout later in the day, in the mornings as part of our routine, I follow a mobility DVD for my tight back, and Steph follows ROMWOD for total body mobility. (Try romwod for free here: https://romwod.com/members/
You can do this!
What do you say? Can you incorporate some time in your morning to create a game plan for starting your day on the right foot? Can you make it so that you go to bed early enough to wake up a bit earlier? 10 minutes? 20? 30? An hour? Studies show that if you take the time to wake up and map out your day with a list, take time to say or write down your positive affirmations about yourself, educate yourself through a few minutes of reading, and performing roughly 10 or so minutes of exercise or stretching, it’s impossible to NOT have a successful, productive, positive day.
Take a little time to investigate, on your own, the power of creating your own miracle morning. And since reading should be a part of your morning, check out Hal’s book, Miracle Morning. (We aren’t affiliated with Hal or his book. We’re just practitioners and believers.) The power you have to rewire your brain, praise yourself for you accomplishments, write out some affirmations and keep a journal of your goals and successes, educate yourself on better mindful practices, and learn from your mistakes will take your health further than any plan of just “diet and exercise.”
- Wimer, Stephanie; Walker, Erik. The Total Health and Fitness Makeover, 2015.
This week’s Strong Figure Conditioning Workouts: