Morning Glory

Anyone will feel like a morning person with these simple habits to guarantee a great day

By Victoria Holt, with inputs by Gagan Dhillon Updated: Oct 15, 2018 18:40:40 IST
Morning Glory

If you wake up each morning in a groggy haze, rest assured you can blame your natural body clock: "Sleep circadian rhythms are longer than a 24-hour day, so our sleep clock pushes us later," says Rebecca Scott, PhD, a sleep specialist at the New York Sleep Institute. That means that sleep acts like a dimmer switch rather than an on/off switch. It takes time to ease into sleep at night and time to feel fully awake in the morning, which is why, says Dr Scott, you feel like you need 10 to 20 minutes to fully wake up. These simple tweaks to your routine can get your body clock back on track faster so you face the day feeling alert, mindful and energized.

When Your Alarm Rings: Don't Hit Snooze

Just those few minutes of extra slumber can trick your body into thinking it does not need to wake up after all; then, when you do wake up to a second loud alarm, you may find yourself experiencing what scientists call sleep inertia, but the rest of us call grogginess. Sleep inertia can be characterized by reduced cognitive and motor skills. It typically doesn't last more than 30 minutes, but it can extend for hours.

Before You Get Out of Bed: Stretch Fully

Morning stretches help you loosen up stiff joints, improve your circulation and sharpen your mind-all before your feet even hit the floor. "Any full-body stretch will help," says Scott. Focus on your body and breathing, and use this moment of calm to set your most important goals for the day.

Seated side bend: Cross your legs, hands at your sides on the bed. Arc your left arm up and bend right, softening your right elbow so that your forearm now rests on the bed. Take a few deep breaths, then do the same on the other side.

Seated forward bend: Sit cross-legged on the bed and walk your hands forward, stretching your torso as far as feels natural.

As Soon as You Get Up: Open the Shades

Early exposure to sunlight helps you regulate your circadian clock and feel more awake. It also has a surprising bonus effect, found a 2014 study from Northwestern University, USA: People whose daily light exposure took place in the morning tended to have lower BMIs than those who were primarily exposed to light later.

Before Breakfast: Head Outside for a Walk

If hunger pangs are knocking, your body is asking for fuel-skip to the breakfast section below, or at least grab a pre-walk banana. If not, though, moving around in outdoor light within the first 90 minutes of your day has been shown to be effective in resetting your body clock and releasing mood-boosting endorphins. By encouraging your body to use stored fat, not breakfast's carbohydrates, for energy, pre-meal exercise also trims your waistline. "Any cardiovascular exercise is good, even for a short period," says Scott.

When You Finally Eat: Pick Nutrients That Last

"Make breakfast a substantial meal as the body needs the energy to kick-start metabolism after eight hours of fasting," says Rekha Sharma, former chief of dietetics, AIIMS, New Delhi. The right mix of nutrients at breakfast gives you more hours of energy as well as muscles with more stamina and sturdier bones.

Follow these recommendations:

Pack your morning meal with 20 to 25 grams of protein and whole grains, says Sharma. This combination ensures you'll feel full and satisfied until lunchtime. Make a tasty parfait by topping plain hung yogurt (which contains roughly twice the protein of regular yogurt) with half a cup of pomegranate, two tablespoons of pistachios and two teaspoons of chia seeds to add protein and fibre. Or have a glass of milk and scramble two eggs, which provide easily absorbed, high-quality protein.

Add a side of fruits to get your fix of antioxidants. Include citrus fruits like oranges and pineapple that are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. Make sure that you eat fruits of different colours to get a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants.

While Brushing Your Teeth: Boost Your Stamina

Don't miss this simple opportunity to practise the easiest (but effective) core exercise: As you brush, balance on one foot. When you change mouth quadrants (about every 30 seconds), switch feet. Do stay focused so you don't hurt yourself.

Last But Not Least: Do What You Hate

When you get your most daunting responsibility out of the way first thing, everything that comes after will feel easier. And if your toughest task can't be done until later, then at least prep for it early. Jot down ideas for a difficult afternoon meeting at 8 a.m., for instance. That way you can leave the house feeling accomplished instead of dreading the rest of the day.

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