It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.
Are morning people born or made? In my case it was definitely made. In my early 20s, I rarely went to bed before midnight, and I’d almost always sleep in late. I usually didn’t start hitting my stride each day until late afternoon.
But after a while I couldn’t ignore the high correlation between success and rising early, even in my own life. On those rare occasions where I did get up early, I noticed that my productivity was almost always higher, not just in the morning but all throughout the day. And I also noticed a significant feeling of well-being. So being the proactive goal-achiever I was, I set out to become a habitual early riser. I promptly set my alarm clock for 5AM…
… and the next morning, I got up just before noon.Advertising
I tried again many more times, each time not getting very far with it. I figured I must have been born without the early riser gene. Whenever my alarm went off, my first thought was always to stop that blasted noise and go back to sleep. I tabled this habit for a number of years, but eventually I came across some sleep research that showed me that I was going about this problem the wrong way. Once I applied those ideas, I was able to become an early riser consistently.
It’s hard to become an early riser using the wrong strategy. But with the right strategy, it’s relatively easy.
The most common wrong strategy is this: You assume that if you’re going to get up earlier, you’d better go to bed earlier.
So you figure out how much sleep you’re getting now, and then just shift everything back a few hours. If you now sleep from midnight to 8am, you figure you’ll go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6am instead. Sounds very reasonable, but it will usually fail.Advertising
It seems there are two main schools of thought about sleep patterns. One is that you should go to bed and get up at the same times every day. It’s like having an alarm clock on both ends — you try to sleep the same hours each night. This seems practical for living in modern society. We need predictability in our schedules. And we need to ensure adequate rest.
The second school says you should listen to your body’s needs and go to bed when you’re tired and get up when you naturally wake up.
This approach is rooted in biology. Our bodies should know how much rest we need, so we should listen to them.
Through trial and error, I found out for myself that both of these schools are suboptimal sleep patterns. Both of them are wrong if you care about productivity. Here’s why:
If you sleep set hours, you’ll sometimes go to bed when you aren’t sleepy enough. If it’s taking you more than five minutes to fall asleep each night, you aren’t sleepy enough. You’re wasting time lying in bed awake and not being asleep. Another problem is that you’re assuming you need the same number of hours of sleep every night, which is a false assumption. Your sleep needs vary from day to day.Advertising
If you sleep based on what your body tells you, you’ll probably be sleeping more than you need — in many cases a lot more, like 10-15 hours more per week (the equivalent of a full waking day). A lot of people who sleep this way get 8+ hours of sleep per night, which is usually too much. Also, your mornings may be less predictable if you’re getting up at different times. And because our natural rhythms are sometimes out of tune with the 24-hour clock, you may find that your sleep times begin to drift.
The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches.
It’s very simple, and many early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthrough for me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.
I go to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up. My sleepiness test is that if I couldn’t read a book for more than a page or two without drifting off, I’m ready for bed. Most of the time when I go to bed, I’m asleep within three minutes. I lie down, get comfortable, and immediately I’m drifting off. Sometimes I go to bed at 9:30pm; other times I stay up until midnight. Most of the time I go to bed between 10-11pm. If I’m not sleepy, I stay up until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Reading is an excellent activity to do during this time, since it becomes obvious when I’m too sleepy to read.
When my alarm goes off every morning, I turn it off, stretch for a couple seconds, and sit up. I don’t think about it. I’ve learned that the longer it takes me to get up, the more likely I am to try to sleep in. So I don’t allow myself to have conversations in my head about the benefits of sleeping in once the alarm goes off. Even if I want to sleep in, I always get up right away.Advertising
After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into a natural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier and get more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less. My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at the same time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable.
A side effect was that on average, I slept about 90 minutes less per night, but I actually felt more well-rested. I was sleeping almost the entire time I was in bed.
I read that most insomniacs are people who go to bed when they aren’t sleepy. If you aren’t sleepy and find yourself unable to fall asleep quickly, get up and stay awake for a while. Resist sleep until your body begins to release the hormones that rob you of consciousness. If you simply go to bed when you’re sleepy and then get up at a fixed time, you’ll cure your insomnia. The first night you’ll stay up late, but you’ll fall asleep right away. You may be tired that first day from getting up too early and getting only a few hours of sleep the whole night, but you’ll slog through the day and will want to go to bed earlier that second night. After a few days, you’ll settle into a pattern of going to bed at roughly the same time and falling asleep right away.
So if you want to become an early riser (or just exert more control over your sleep patterns), then try this: Go to bed only when you’re too sleepy to stay up, and get up at a fixed time every morning.
How to Become an Early Riser | Steve Pavlina
Last Updated on May 22, 2019
10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day
There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.
One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing. According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.
In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.
Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.
1. Cat Camel Stretch
Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.
Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.
Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.
Here’s a video to guide you through:
2. Go for a Walk or a Run
This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.
Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!
The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.
Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.
Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know
3. Jumping Jacks
Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.” They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.
Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:
4. Abductor Side Lifts
Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.
Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:
5. Balancing Table Pose
This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.
Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.
6. Leg Squats
Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.
Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.
The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
7. Push Ups
You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.
An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.
Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.
This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.
8. Bicycle Crunches
There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.
Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.
Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.
This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.
10. Bicep Curls
You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.
Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.
Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.
Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:
Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.
These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles. In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.
You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.
Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better! Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!
More Articles About Exercises for Beginners
- How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses)
- Getting Fit Over 40: The 7 Best Workout Routines for Beginners
- Exercise Routine That Best Fits You (With 3 Difficulty Levels to Choose)
- 4 Best Beginner Exercises To Do At Home
- 7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
|||^||American Psychological Association: The exercise effect|
|||^||New York Times: How Exercise Could Lead to a Better Brain|
|||^||Appalachian State University: Early morning exercise is best for reducing blood pressure and improving sleep|
|||^||The Washington Post: Michelle Obama, ‘Jumper in Chief’|
|||^||Azcentral: What Are the Benefits of Leg Lifts?|
|||^||Fitness Mercola: How to Do Squats: 8 Reasons to Do Squat Exercises|
|||^||The Nest: Why Are Bicep Curls Important?|
|||^||WebMD: Lose Weight With Morning Exercise|