The Science of a Good Morning
Not a morning person? That’s what I used to think, too.
By Payton Ramey, University of Central Florida
In the past, it seemed more likely that hell would freeze over before I was categorized as a “morning person.”
Maybe it was an after-effect of having to rise from the dead at 5:45 every morning since I was in fifth grade, or maybe it was just my bright and cheery personality that kept me away from the sun for as long as possible. Either way, I almost always began my day with a race against the clock, because I was too tired to realize that I had continuously hit the snooze button for thirty minutes. Every morning, I left my house feeling irritable and, most of the time, I didn’t even eat breakfast, because even that was honestly too much work.
So, I decided to make some lifestyle changes. About three months ago, I started researching ways to have a happier morning, and while I wholeheartedly admit that I will probably never be able to fully transition into a smiley morning person, I can now at least be in the presence of other human beings without wanting to claw my eyes out.
Here are four of the best ways to make your morning a tad more bearable.
1. Clean and Prepare
I’ve actually mentioned this step in another one of my articles, and I honestly stand by it 100 percent.
A few simple steps at night can make all the difference to you in the morning. When I know that I’m going to have a busy morning, I take the time to tidy up my room, which means recycling the empty water bottles scattered around, cleaning up my clothes that I was too lazy to hang and setting out everything I’ll need the next day.
I recently read an article in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin about a study that found that women who described their homes as “cluttered or messy” were more prone to depression, fatigue and anxiety. So, while having a quick tidy session before bed may seem weird to some, I promise that it’ll make you feel so much better in the long run.
2. Move Your Body
Most people roll out of bed, get dressed and hop out the door with little to no regard for how this fast-paced routine is actually affecting the mind and body. But again, here comes science to the rescue.
Scientific American recently reported on a study that shows even little movements in the morning, like simple stretches, can help boost your overall mood and health. Humans have a natural tendency to stretch in the mornings, but we often stifle these movements in an effort to adhere to strict time schedules.
Whether it’s a few yoga stretches or simple breathing exercises, moving your body in the morning can help you relax, focus and get energized. So, what’s the harm in incorporating them into your routine?
3. Mindfulness Is Key
People love to tout their ability to multitask, especially students. In fact, multitasking has become so commonplace that you can usually find it at the top of any job advertisement’s requirements. But is it really a healthy attribute?
A new study conducted by a Harvard researcher found that mindfulness—not multitasking—is the true key to happiness and success. And no, you certainly don’t have to incorporate a full meditation session into your routine, but completing one mindful activity in the morning can definitely help improve your mindset for the rest of the day.
Whether it’s being mindful as you eat breakfast, when you make your coffee or when you take your morning shower, getting rid of all other distractions and being fully “in the moment” can take your morning from shitty to satisfactory in no time.
4. Create a Happiness Boost
If all else fails, focus on tweaking your routine rather than adding to it.
Research shows that exposing yourself to bright lights, taking a cold shower and listening to your favorite music are all easy ways to help jumpstart your morning routine and get your body moving full speed ahead.
When you wake up in the morning, exposing yourself to bright sunlight can ensure that your energy levels rise, as your body’s internal clock uses light to determine when you need to sleep and when you need to wake up.
Once you’re up and out of bed, you can move on to another energizing part of your routine—a cold shower. Cold water makes you feel alert by increasing your metabolic rate. Feel free to take a warm shower if that’s what you prefer, but make sure to end it with cold water!
When you finally feel ready to go, end your routine with some of your favorite tunes. Music has been shown to increase activity in certain regions of the brain most often associated with movement, emotion and dopamine.
For me, nothing is ever going to change the fact that I simply cannot speak to other people unless an hour has passed since the time I woke up (bless my roommate’s soul). But after following some of these tips, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in how my mornings start. It’s easier to get up, I feel more energized throughout the day and, honestly, I’m not nearly as much of a raging bitch in the morning as I used to be.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of college students are just not cut out to be early-morning risers. Simply put, there’s always going to be a difference between waking up and actually getting up. But regardless, it’s never too late to try.
So, best of luck to all you grumps out there. Hopefully, one day you’ll be able to join the land of the living!