A morning routine can help put a new perspective on your day, even helping you feel more energized, focused, and satisfied.
Quick Health Scoop
Having a morning routine in place can help you feel better physically and mentally, including more satisfied and productive with your day.
A good morning routine should consider things like your sleep, nutrition, exercise, and planning regimens.
Implementing a morning routine doesn’t have to be complex or require fancy tools. You can start right now (or tomorrow).
Why Having a Morning Routine Matters
A morning routine may sound like a tall order when there’s so much to be done and what feels like so little time. But having one can help you feel more centered, more productive, and more fulfilled at the end of the day. It can help you feel your best physically and mentally and even prepare you for a good night’s rest. Research shows that a consistent sleep and wake routine can help support a healthy mood and normal metabolic function.
That said, it’s easy to have good intentions for a routine but never follow through with one. Not this time, though. You’ll set yourself up for success by implementing the 5 habits below as a foundation — and you can start immediately.
1. Support Your Sleep
A good morning begins with a good night’s sleep. Most of us aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal rest. Not sleeping well for one night can mess up the whole next day, let alone a pattern of unrest.
To support your sleep, try the following:
Create a nighttime routine. This means going to bed around the same time every day and practicing ways to intentionally wind down before resting.
Design a sleep-promoting environment. Things like cozy pajamas, comfortable bedding, a weighted blanket, black-out curtains, and a ceiling fan or white noise machine can help.
Avoid caffeine later in the day. Caffeinated beverages can affect everyone differently, and many people find it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep if consumed in the afternoon or evening.
Exercise earlier. Exercise is a great way to pump yourself up for the day, but this may not be the effect you want later on when you’re trying to prepare for rest. If you prefer working out at night, be sure to get it done at least an hour before you start to wind down.
Avoid technology 2 hours before bed. Phones, TVs, tablets, and laptops emit blue light, which has been shown to interrupt the circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep.
Consider a supplement. Some supplements may offer sleep-supportive benefits, such as NatureMade WellBlends™ line of products, made with science-backed blends to support your nighttime needs.†
Sometimes, a slow start to the morning is therapeutic. However, sitting still for too long after you wake up can make it hard to transition to being more productive. When planning your morning routine, make movement an integral part of it. This could look like scheduling a walk around the block with your dog, a group fitness class on certain days of the week, or a virtual workout you can do before the sun comes up.
Movement is medicine, and this applies to every aspect of your life. Even if you’re not into exercising first thing in the morning, getting up to take a shower and get ready sooner can count too. Anything to get your body moving also helps fire up your brain for the day.
Sure, some people say they genuinely feel better when they skip breakfast. But for those who like to eat in the morning, breakfast is your first opportunity of the day to fuel yourself — so make it a good one! Furthermore, some research has shown that those who don’t eat much in the morning tend to overeat later in the day.
Ideally, breakfast should mix complex carbohydrates, good fats, and protein to help wake up your brain and satiate your belly. This also means having water before coffee to support metabolic functions and help rehydrate your body after sleep.
Here are some examples of simple, nourishing breakfasts:
Avocado on whole wheat toast, topped with sliced tomatoes, broccoli sprouts, lemon juice, and pepitas
Oatmeal or overnight oats made with soy milk, topped with cinnamon, sliced apples, and crushed walnuts
Egg or tofu scramble made with chopped veggies, nutritional yeast, and seasonings
Whole grain muffin with a fruit and veggie protein smoothie
It’s nearly impossible to get anything done promptly or satisfactorily without a plan. You may have a plan for your work-day or weekly trip to the grocery store, but this also applies to your morning routine.
Including a to-do list and strategy for the day as part of your morning routine can help set you up for success. Writing positive affirmations and otherwise setting your intentions for the day can also be beneficial. Reflect back on them when you’re feeling overwhelmed or off track to remind yourself that you’re accomplishing tasks and staying the course.
5. Ditch the Early Morning Screens
Just as blue light-emitting screens can disrupt your sleep at night, they can also interfere with how your day begins. Many people say using their phones in bed before they are truly awake promotes feelings of anxiousness that trickle into the rest of their day.
Instead, consider having a book or a journal next to your bed if you need something to do before you get up. This can help wake up your brain in a more relaxing and natural way, rather than saturating it with images and videos that can throw us into a spiral of self-comparison. While you read, open the blinds to let the sunlight in.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve noticed yourself struggling to create consistent, productive days that you feel good about, it may be because you need a new morning routine. If at least some degree of structure and strategy are lacking, this can result in feeling unproductive, dissatisfied, and overwhelmed.
How we start the day is key to how the day progresses, including how we feel. When planning your morning routine, consider things like your bedtime routine, screen use, eating pattern, exercise routine, and overall intentions for each day.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Taylor BJ, Matthews KA, Hasler BP, Roecklein KA, Kline CE, Buysse DJ, Kravitz HM, et al. Bedtime Variability and Metabolic Health in Midlife Women: The SWAN Sleep Study, Sleep. 2016;29(2):457–465. doi:0.5665/sleep.5464
Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation's sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015;1(1):40-43. doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2014.12.010
Stutz J, Eiholzer R, Spengler CM. Effects of Evening Exercise on Sleep in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2019;49(2):269-287. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-1015-0
West KE, Jablonski MR, Warfield B, et al. Blue light from light-emitting diodes elicits a dose-dependent suppression of melatonin in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011;110(3):619-626. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01413.2009
Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She also enjoys writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics. Find her at www.laurenpanoff.com.