We all know that starting your day off on the right note is the key to having a day full of awesome momentum. But, many of you likely have heard contradictory advice. One “guru” says to wake up early, the other says to sleep in; one says to get 8 hours of sleep, and yet another says you can function normally on just 2 hours of sleep. And, all of that is just about sleep, the precursor to a solid morning.
Thankfully, science has the answers for you. Science also has a bunch of counterintuitive answers in many cases too. Are you ready for a maximum day? Get ready, guys.
1) How much sleep you need:
First off, lets tackle the sleep issue. Right off the bat in the opening paragraph, you’ve likely already been given more than you can chew. So, in terms of hours of sleep, though some people claim to be able to get by on 2 or 3 hours of sleep by just taking a handful of power naps instead, even they admit that this is tough in social situations when your body feels like it’s going to die if it doesn’t take a power nap every couple hours. Study after study after study shows that, whether you realize it or not, you need 8 hours of sleep (or more, if you’re not an adult yet). Are you wondering why your body is off, or why your gym days aren’t resulting in the gains you wanted, or is your memory not what it used to be? Essentially, your hormones are off, and you’ve managed to trick your brain into thinking it’s okay from your own subjective position, whereas all objective studies of mental and physical robustness show that anything less than 7 and you’re pretty much drunk.
2) When to wake up:
This is actually a subjective thing. Some people are programmed to be night owls, and they should be night owls. Some people are programmed to be morning people, and they should be morning people. Interestingly enough, when you start even a school day later (10am or after), you increase test scores overall. But, there are plenty of studies going both ways, to show that there is no one definitive time where everybody will be at their best. The hypothesis here is that when we lived in small tribal communities that it was more advantageous to minimize time where everybody was asleep so as to protect the village. We may not be in small dangerous villages anymore, but our DNA sure is.
So, now you’re up and at it. Do a brief exercise right away. Get your blood flowing and get to the point of being almost out of breath. It doesn’t have to be a full on gym session, just 60 seconds before a meal and another 60 seconds 90 minutes after eating is all that is needed.
And, you want it to be quick, because your early food intake influences your metabolism for the day, and your metabolism is also influenced by whether you exercised or not before the food. Small tribal communities likely had to hunt for their food or go do chores to prep it first, after all. This is important because your metabolism isn’t not a constant, it has highs and lows, and our daily actions can put it on one side or the other for longer or shorter periods.
4) The best breakfast is:
…to maximize your metabolism, not only do your quick exercise, but eat at least 30 grams of protein within the first 30 minutes of waking up. Your body will be primed and ready. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast done correctly is even better.
5) Your morning to-do list:
It depends on your diet, but a good rule of thumb is to wait at least 30 minutes after breakfast for brushing your teeth, as many foods can weaken the enamel, making it more prone to cavities and other hygiene related issues will soon follow. The best way to take this 30 minute gap is to meditate for at least 20 minutes. Meditation has been shown to do everything from boosting IQ over 20%, to reducing stress, to offering more clarity in life. It is the one activity that is consistently rated, both scientifically and personally, as the one thing most likely to better your life. All you should do is sit in a chair, keeping your back off of the rest, placing your hands on your knees, closing your eyes, and focusing on your breathing. It’s impossible to mess up meditation. Thoughts will naturally come into your head, but your goal is to recognize that and immediately try to clear them and focus back on your breathing. Some days will be better than others, but overall you’ll win in the long run.
You’ll find the meditation, and the rest of your day, far easier if you do not check your cell phone, media, or any other electronics during this whole morning period. When you check your email or anything else during this time period, you are beginning your day by having your mind filled with other people’s thoughts. And, unfortunately, negative information travels easier than positive information, and you can quickly lose your grip of the day. Work can wait. The world can wait. You need to dominate it. Lose the electronics and newspapers.
6) Wait, what about coffee?
And, this last tidbit is especially difficult for me to bring myself to say, as I am a person who runs a coffee pairing company, but delay your coffee intake for the day. Do not stop drinking coffee though, as there are plenty of studies that shows its benefiting everything from mental acuity to longevity and the avoiding of dementia, but delay when you take it. Your body needs to go 90 minutes after waking up before having caffeine, or you’ll hamper its ability to produce necessary chemicals, and it’ll ultimately tire you out more quickly.
Although we could go into more detail about how your day can be scientifically optimized, we’ll stop here. This is how your first 60-90 minutes should take into consideration. Do you feel that we missed something? Do you feel that we are dead wrong about something? Feel free to comment and let us know what your perfect morning routine looks like.