We can’t all be morning people. But according to psychiatrist and sleep expert Tracey Marks, MD, we can all train ourselves to be more productive in the a.m. Here’s how.
Don’t stay up past your bedtime
It sounds obvious, but if you want to wake up feeling well rested, you have to get enough sleep. Hitting the sack at a reasonable hour is key, but your sleep schedule matters, too. It’s important to go to bed at roughly the same time every night to keep your circadian rhythms in sync. Going to bed when your body feels tired allows you to fully experience the various stages of sleep, and wake up ready for the day.
See: 7 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever
Humans are wired to rise with the sun and sleep when it sets, relatively speaking. If we’re not exposed to enough light in the morning, it can be difficult for our bodies to know that it’s time to wake up. Letting more morning light into your bedroom may be as simple as switching from blackout shades to blinds, but Marks recommends using a portable light box for 15-30 minutes each morning after you wake up, to train your body to awaken earlier.
See: Maximize the Natural Light in Your Home
Get your juices flowing
For some of us, a morning workout sounds more like torture than exercise. But you don’t have to hit the elliptical or run five miles to get your blood pumping. Taking a walk or practicing yoga or tai chi are all great low-impact ways to increase your energy in the morning. An added bonus to exercising early in the day is that it allows your body to rest in the evening, unlike a late-day workout which pumps you up when you should be winding down.
See: Lose Weight Around the Clock
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, many of us either opt for something quick and sweet, or skip the morning meal entirely in favor of a cup of Joe. For a healthier boost, bypass the sugary stuff and opt for a nutritious breakfast of high-fiber oatmeal or protein-packed eggs to give you the energy you need to take on the day.
See: 8 healthy breakfasts for energy and appetite-control.