A morning routine is a great way to integrate some well-needed structure to your day. And the sleep habits that promote and maintain excellent nights of sleep start with your morning routine. From waking up well rested, feeling awake and alert all day, free from fatigue, with better quality of life, to being able to fall asleep easily, quickly, with high quality sleep that night - it all begins with your morning routine.
There are several key components that will help elevate your morning routine to well rested status. None of these should come as a surprise to longtime listeners, or even if you just tuned in last week.
The foundation for a sleep-friendly morning routine lies in your wake-up time. And while a later wake-up time can be problematic, the most important factor here is consistency: maintaining the same wake up time during weekdays and weekends.
Next, get moving! A little stretching goes a long way. But more importantly, movement and physical activity that gets that heart rate up. Specifically, a heart rate between 50 and 85% of your max recommended heart rate, which is determined by your age.
After exercising your body, such as during your cool-down, you have a wonderful opportunity to exercise your mind. It may be something practical like writing out your daily and weekly to-do list to reinforce what’s important. This may involve taking a few minutes to write out 1, 3, 5 things that you’re thankful for. It may involve exercises in mindfulness or compassion.
Next, following your physical and mental workouts, its time to dine! Breakfast, it turns out, really is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast increases the likelihood you’ll achieve an adequate amount of sleep at night, it increases the chance you’ll have better quality sleep. And breakfast that’s high in protein and fats and lower in carbs and sugar is also independently associated with better daytime energy, lower fatigue, and better quality sleep at night.
And at any point as part of your morning routine, you can add another key ingredient, which is bright morning light. So during physical activity, during your mental work, while eating that high quality breakfast - giving yourself the gift of bright light, especially in that 5,000 to 10,000 lux range of brightness for at least 15 minutes will not only increase your energy and alertness across the day, boost your mood, but significantly improve your sleep that night as well.
If you’d like to see an example of morning habits like these and more, check out wellrestedmd.com/day, where you can get a special download, a totally free cheat sheet. In this Day of the Life of the Well Rested download, you’ll find examples and timing of these morning as well as evening routines, the evidence-based best practices for wakeful days and restful nights. So head over to wellrestedmd.com/day to see these morning routine best practices in action.