Make the most of the morning
Several years ago during a conversation with a friend I realised I was not a member of the early risers club. “I find the time just before sunset to be the best for taking photographs”, I said. “That, and just before sunrise”, came the reply. My initial thought was, “What’s a sunrise?” It was my first inkling that I was missing something.
Good for family harmony
Not only was I missing sunrises, but my habit of getting up at the crack of noon meant I was also missing a good part of the day. In the end, I really didn’t get to choose to be a morning person. My husband readily springs out of bed in the morning and my two sons inherited the same trait. Needless to say, if I wanted to hang out with the boys, I had to haul my late-night-loving body out of bed—early.
Good for business
Family harmony isn’t the only good reason to forgo the sleep-in. Many in the business world believe the early bird gets the deal. CEOs of major companies such as Apple, Avon and Disney report waking times of 5 am or before. Lifehack.org, a blog dedicated to helping people improve productivity, recommends using the early hours to pack in some productive investing.
Good for health and happiness
A recent study found early risers rated their health and happiness higher than those who choose to stay up late. Researchers concluded that since society is set up on a nine-to-five routine, those who are in sync with that routine are more likely to be happier.
Early bird strategies
Using a few simple strategies, even the most nightly of owls can train themselves to be a morning lark.
Get a good night’s sleep
If you’re well rested you’ll be less inclined to linger under the doona when it’s time to get up. According to the Australian Sleep Health Foundation, caffeine in tea and coffee is a stimulant that prevents us from sleeping well, and alcohol may make us drowsy but our sleep will be very restless. So, to ensure you get a sound sleep, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Fit some exercise into each day. Resist snacking in the hours before bed. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a warm bath or spend some time reading a book, for example.
In the dead of winter, getting out of bed while it’s still dark can be especially challenging. It may add to the energy bill, but give yourself permission to turn on lots of lights (without disturbing your slumbering loved ones). This bright environment will keep your eyes open and help shake off sleepiness.
Combining sweet and sour flavours, says dietitian Danielle Velez, will take the edge off lingering morning fogginess. A fresh orange will add a little sunshine to your day along with a dose of vitamin C and fibre. Alternatively, a cup of warm water flavoured with a bit of honey and lime will do the trick and stimulate digestion as well.
Brew a cup
I love the morning ritual of brewing a cup of eye-opening coffee. The roasty scent is my morning aromatherapy. The University of South Australia’s Centre for Sleep Research suggests caffeine can be combined with a nap to combat tiredness. Try having a cup of coffee, then a 20-minute nap to feel energised. Additionally, research now suggests that caffeine, whether in coffee, tea or cocoa, is a powerful antioxidant.
Caffeinated beverages may cause jitteriness and heart irregularities; if you experience these effects, it may be best to choose another morning drink.
Sticking to a regular bedtime and waking time will allow your body to reset its natural rhythm, or circadian clock. Sadly, sleeping in on weekends will only leave you feeling tired and drowsy on Mondays.
There’s something hopeful about mornings, whether you choose to watch the sunrise, rustle up breakfast for the kids or enjoy some peaceful meditation. And claiming the early hours may just make you healthier and happier.
“If I only had five minutes in the morning to squeeze in some yoga, I’d do five sun salutations”, says yoga instructor Kate McDonald Walker.
Sun salutations will give you energy and strength to face the day. Remember never to push yourself to the point of discomfort—each pose should feel comfortable.