Hit the Snooze Button
That extra 15 minutes will help energize your day, right? Wrong. You’ll get better rest if you get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Groggy in the a.m.? Try using a sleep tracker. This wearable device can tell when you’re in a light stage of sleep and wake you when it’s easiest to get up.
Stay in the Dark
It’s tempting to stay in the quiet dark of your room with the shades drawn in the morning. Don’t do it. Daylight helps your body set its clock. That helps you sleep better and helps your body fight infection and inflammation. Getting outdoors into the sunlight helps you make vitamin D, think more clearly, and exercise more. It can even make you happier. So open those shades and greet the new day.
Sometimes it just feels so good, especially when you have the time and you’ve been short on sleep. But the best way to improve your sleep over the long term is to keep a regular bedtime schedule. That means you get up at the same time every day, even if you had a late night — and yes, that includes the weekend.
Shoot Out of Bed Too Quickly
When you go from lying down to standing, gravity sends blood rushing to your legs, which can drop your blood pressure suddenly and make you feel a bit woozy. It can even make you pass out. Sit up slowly and pause at the edge of the bed to give your body a few seconds to get used to the idea, especially if you noticed some lightheadedness in the past. It’s an easy precaution that could save you from a serious fall.
Ditch Your Workout
Regular exercise helps your sleep, weight, heart, and mood, among many benefits. You may be more likely to stick with exercise if you do it first thing. It could even make it easier to control what you eat throughout the day and maintain your weight. Plan ahead and put your workout clothes out the night before.
Skip Your Coffee
If you usually have a couple of cups of joe in the morning, skipping it can leave you groggy. You may not concentrate as well, and you might even become very tired with a severe headache, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. If you’re trying to cut back on your caffeine, do it slowly to avoid these responses.
Forget Your Teeth
A sticky film called plaque forms on your teeth each night. If you don’t brush it off in the morning, it can start to harden into stuff called tartar that you can only get rid of at your dentist’s office. If plaque and tartar are around too long, they can lead to swollen or bleeding gums, cavities, bad breath, gum disease, and other health problems.
Brush Right After Coffee
It’s the acid in coffee. So you really shouldn’t brush right after any acidic food or drink. For example, some people like to drink water with lemon in the morning. The acid weakens tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can remove it. Simply brush your teeth beforehand, or wait 30 to 60 minutes for the acid to fade from your teeth.
Check Your Email
If you constantly check digital devices, email, and social media, it can cause stress and anxiety. For example, you may feel more pressure to start work earlier if you check your email first thing. Take some time in the morning to stay disconnected from digital media like email. It may take some effort at first, but it can make you happier and may even help you get more work done in the long run.
Start Your Day Without a Plan
If you start your day without a thought to why you do what you do, you may lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve and what gives your life meaning. Whether it’s work, family, or lifestyle, it’s important to figure out what’s most important to you and make sure the things you do each day help you get there. Set priorities, make a list, and check your progress at the end of the day.
Dwell on the Day’s Problems
Once you’ve got a plan to tackle the day’s problems, let them go and take a moment to be grateful for the good things in your life. People who do this are often happier, healthier, and more satisfied in their relationships, especially compared to those who focus on their problems. Write it in a journal or just list them in your head — what matters most is that you do it.
Forget Quiet Time
If your day is filled with work and noise, the morning is a perfect chance to clear your mind with even a few minutes of meditation. You can simply focus on your breath and try to let go of thoughts that come up. The practice can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and may help ease conditions including anxiety, pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, and migraine headaches.
Bail Out of Breakfast
People who eat breakfast regularly tend to have sharper thinking and less body fat, and they are less likely to have type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also exercise more regularly and eat a healthier diet. So enjoy a healthy breakfast — it’s an easy and enjoyable way to get a good start on the day.
Eat Too Sweet
Doughnuts and other sugary pastries made from white flour have little nutrition and get into (and out of) your blood too quickly. That can leave you tired, irritable, and hungry for more. Protein from eggs or cottage cheese and “complex carbs” with more fiber and nutrition — oatmeal or other whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and provide a slow steady stream of energy.
Skip the Sunscreen
It can help protect your skin against cancer and wrinkles caused by UV rays that you’re exposed to whenever you’re out in the sun, even if it’s cloudy. It’s best to put it on about 15 minutes before you go outside. That’s how long it takes your skin to absorb it. You need to put it on again after just 2 hours if you’re still in the sun, or sooner if you sweat a lot or go swimming.
Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD