How we start our day can have an impact on how the rest of our day goes. Of course, beginning with a restful night of sleep also makes a difference. So what can we do to both improve sleep and set the tone for a productive day?
Here are some healthy morning habits that won’t take very much time. (The last thing any of us need is yet one more thing to work into an already over busy day.) Please note, that any of these suggestions can be modified to allow for physical limitations, dietary restrictions, etc. I personally begin with a cup of freshly brewed coffee* in bed while listening to the news for 30 minutes, and then I begin my morning routine:
First, stretch. Your body has been prone for hours. Bounding out of bed — or even dragging yourself reluctantly out of bed — may be asking too much of your muscles. I find stretching and gentle breathing, like in this beginner’s Sun Salutation yoga sequence, is a way to get your body ready to greet the day.
Second, hydrate. You’ve been asleep for (hopefully) seven or eight hours, during which time you’ve ingested no liquid. Studies suggest drinking 16 ounces of water can combat muscle fatigue and keep your digestive system working … smoothly. Here too, I do things a little differently; namely, I run about 2 cups of water through my coffee machine and leave the plate on to keep it hot. To the same mug I used for coffee, I squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon or lime, fill it about half full with hot water and top it off with just enough filtered water to make it drinkable. Lemon and lime, in addition to adding flavor, help to regulate the body’s Ph level, which is a bonus.
Third, exercise. If your schedule allows it, a 20-minute stroll or brisk walk can help ease stress during your workweek. One study, which followed overweight women aged 50-75, showed that walking four hours per week in the morning helped the women sleep better at night (Huffington Post January 2014).
Fourth, eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast with lean proteins — eggs are a good source — can help you feel more satisfied through the morning. Participants in a study who ate an egg for breakfast lost 18 pounds over the course of the study, and those who added a slice of lean protein such as Canadian bacon had more lean muscle than those who ate less protein (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013).
I hope you find these tips useful. Let me know how it goes.
*NOTE: Caffeinate in small doses. A large jolt of coffee will boost you for an hour before filtering out of your brain over the following three to four hours. A study published in the academic journal Sleep showed that hourly doses of caffeine — what you would find in a two-ounce shot of brewed coffee — were optimal in keeping the study subjects alert. Bonus: you can sip your coffee throughout your work morning, extending the caffeinated treat.