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Take These 10 Simple Steps To Make You A Morning Person

Take These 10 Simple Steps To Make You A Morning Person

Wouldn’t it be an amazing feeling if you could stroll into work comfortably in the morning after a three-mile jog, twenty-minute workout, fifteen-minute ashtanga yoga session, or whatever your ideal morning routine would be?

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, explains that, “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. They tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities.”

But we all knew this, or at least suspected it, right? There’s even a saying about it: “The early birds catches the worm.”

Early in the morning is when your mind and body are most rested. Your motivation is at its highest then, and there are less things to distract you from writing or thinking deeply and creatively about projects. You are most productive at first light, which explains why so many successful people wake up before the sun rises, including Richard Branson (Virgin Group founder), Tim Cook (Apple CEO), and Indra Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo).

If you love the idea of creating a success-boosting morning routine that gives you a headstart on others, and also affords you time for exercise and family, but struggle to get up when the alarm clock sounds, don’t worry. There are simple steps you can take to make climbing out from under the covers and starting your morning earlier much easier, and maybe even fun. Here’re ten of them:

1. Define your motive beforehand.

As with any change, it’s important to have a solid reason for waking up early. Define a meaningful reason for why you want to get up early and write it down if necessary. For example, you might want to wake up early to fit in a morning cardio workout, squeeze in a morning run, or have some extra time to cook a healthy breakfast for your family. Whatever the reason, being clear on it from the start will motivate you and set you up for success.

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2. Get enough sleep — 7 to 9 hours.

Waking up early and well-rested starts with getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, due to our busy lifestyles, many of us don’t get enough sleep. But, just like you need to make time for exercise, you need to make time for quality sleep. Admittedly, balancing our own wellbeing against other personal and professional responsibilities is tough, but do not compromise on your health for success.

Schedule 7 to 9 hours of sleep (the average amount adults needs in a night, although some naturally need more) into your day. What you get from a good night’s rest cannot be supplemented elsewhere. Your body and mind are more apt to change other habits (like wake time) if they’re well-rested.

3. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.

Don’t just get enough sleep once in a while. Get enough sleep every day.

“Many people think they’re getting more or less than they actually are,” says Colette Haward, MD, a psychiatrist in New York City. Watch out for that. An inconsistent sleep schedule means that, “Your sleep cycle is pushed back a few hours. It’s delayed at night, which causes excessive sleepiness in the morning and during the day,” Dr. Haward says.

Sleeping two hours later on Saturday and Sunday also throws off your internal clock during the week. “We all have a 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle,” Dr. Haward explains. That is why it’s so important to keep a consistent sleep schedule and get the recommended hours of shuteye.

Nathaniel Watson, MD and president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, agrees.

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“Keeping a consistent sleep schedule,” he says “is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting quality, restful sleep.” It will reflect on your wake time, as well.

4. Adjust your sleep schedule gradually.

Just because you should get enough sleep and keep a consistent sleep schedule doesn’t mean you should shift your schedule suddenly. Drastic adjustment will keep you rebounding between early and late times, rather than helping you create lasting change.

Start adjusting your bedtime gradually by just 15 minutes at a time, advices Dr. Haward. And, if you have a sleep debt to repay, it’s better to nap during the day than to mess up your nightly sleep schedule. That said, don’t take extended daytime naps, because they can keep you up at night.

5. Establish a relaxing evening routine.

A relaxing evening routine can help to clue your body into what is to come. It will chill you out and let your mind know that it is nearly time to fall asleep. For example, Dr. Haward recommends taking 30 minutes to prepare yourself for sleep with a three-step plan:

Firstly, take a hot bath or shower (when you step out, your body temperature drops, which encourages sleep); secondly, jot down a list of things you’re worried about to clear your mind; and thirdly, dim the lights and meditate, do some deep breathing or practice progressive relaxation, in which you slowly tense and then relax all your muscles from scalp to toes.

Drinking a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading for 20 minutes or so each night before bed is also a good and relaxing routine you can establish. A relaxing routine will help you sleep better and wake up fresh.

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6. Create a sleep sanctuary.

Once you know when to sleep and what to do right before bedtime, it’s important to make your bedroom conducive for sound sleeping. A snooze-friendly bedroom is clean, quiet, comfortable, and dark (light suppresses secretions of sleep-inducing melatonin).

Your bedroom also needs to be cool to allow you to sleep comfortably and wake up rejuvenated.

“The magic number for a sleep-friendly room is around 69 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Dr. Haward. A wool blanket can also go a long way in keeping you cool throughout the night.

“Wool is a fantastic insulator but also good for wicking away moisture and keeping you cool,” Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep, says. And if your mattress leaves you achy, now is a good time to upgrade.

7. Power down and unplug from technology.

Any kind of bright light emitted by electronic devices in the bedroom can shift your circadian rhythms, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep. So, no late-night TV shows and no checking e-mail in bed. Dr. Haward notes that televisions, cell phones, and computer screens all emit blue light, which suppresses melatonin production. Turn off those electronic screens at least an hour before bed to make dozing easier.

8. Hop into bed and get some sleep.

If you can’t fall asleep: “After 30 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet activity. Don’t flip on bright overhead lights; use a soft table lamp instead,” says Dr. Haward. Twenty minutes into a favorite book or crossword puzzle in a dimly lit room and you should notice your eyelids dropping. Time to hit the sack.

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9. Break up with the snooze button.

When the alarm goes off and your immediate temptation is to hit snooze, go ahead and do it. Hit the snooze button, but get out of bed. Wait for those next few minutes before the alarm goes off again to pass while you are out of bed. The idea is known as “inverted snooze.” It helps ease the pain of waking up by telling yourself you only have those few minutes to stick it out.

Stretch, move around, start brewing coffee, make an entry in your diary – do something, anything to keep yourself awake. By the time the alarm goes off again you should be fully awake and alert, rather than dull and still grumpy in bed, likely to hit snooze again.

10. Seize the day and make things happen.

Starting the day in grouch mode, thinking about all the things you don’t want to do today is a terrible way to start your day. It might even de-motivate you from the wonderful habit of waking up early you’ve started. Instead, remind yourself of your motive for waking up early and think ahead to the best things you’ll do all day. It will stir your energy and fuel your desires to seize the day and make things happen.

Eat a healthy breakfast. Exercise. Be your best self. Your willpower is at its peak in the morning. Make the most of it!

Featured photo credit: lzf via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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