“The early bird gets the worm.” “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
We get it, getting up early is the bees’ knees if you want to be a productive member of society. (As a bona fide night owl, I can’t say I agree entirely, but that’s for another article.)
Getting up early is half the battle, sure. The other half is what you do upon waking. Apparently, what you do right after you open your eyes can determine what kind of day you’re going to have. If you start off on the wrong foot, you’re likely to end up grumpy, unfocused, and ultimately, unproductive. Alternatively, there are some things you can do to take back control of your day and ultimately come out more energized, more focused, and more satisfied.
So, as a public service to all of our dear readers, here are five things you shouldn’t do once you wake up and what to do instead:
1. Hit the Snooze Button.
Aren’t we all guilty of this? I know I certainly am. Five, ten more minutes of sleep is always tempting, no?
Unfortunately, that bit of extra sleep does more harm than good. It won’t be restorative at all, but can make you even groggier. According to Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Reena Mehra, the latter part of our sleep cycle consists of REM or dream sleep. This is the restorative sleep state.
Thus, hitting the snooze button in the morning just disrupts your REM sleep in the long run.
What to Do Instead: Go to bed earlier. This will increase the chances of you feeling refreshed and restored rather than groggy when your alarm goes off.
If you manage to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep, you might even wake up before your alarm.
2. Check Your Phone.
If, like many others, you use your phone as an alarm clock, this can be unavoidable. Once you turn off your alarm, you’ll see all your emails, messages, and alerts on the screen. It’s only natural that you check all of them, right?
Maybe so, but checking your emails and messages first thing in the morning can prematurely raise your stress levels too. The point is, you need to give yourself time to wake up properly before you reach for your phone. So long as you get up at a reasonable time, you don’t need to act on all your notifications at once anyway.
Furthermore, the less you check your phone throughout the day, the happier and more in control you’ll feel.
What to Do Instead: Get an alarm clock. Yep, an old-fashioned one. This way, you can put your phone farther away from your bed at night so it won’t be the first thing you reach for in the morning.
3. Stay Curled Up in a Ball.
Comforting as it might be to sleep in a fetal position, it’s not the best for instilling confidence as you face a new day. A sleep study from Harvard concluded that people who woke up and remained curled up often have lower confidence levels.
Plus, this position isn’t good for your back in the long run.
What to Do Instead: Stretch out wide and tall as soon as you get up. This will ready your limbs and also awaken your senses gradually, setting you up for the day.
4. Drink Coffee.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? Heck, I know some people who can’t even form sentences before they’re had their caffeine fix.
This isn’t to say that you should swear off your cup of joe. (Put down your pitchforks, please.) Rather, you just need to wait a while before you start brewing.
Why? This is because caffeine can interfere with your body’s cortisol production. This hormone is released as a stress response, and you typically experience three natural spikes each day. Chugging coffee before 10 AM could interfere with this, so it’s best to postpone the consumption till after the early morning hours.
What to Do Instead: Drink a bottle of water. If you really must consume something upon waking, cold water is great for waking you up. If that’s too much for your empty stomach, lukewarm water will do just fine.
As a bonus, drinking water upon waking helps rev up your metabolism and digestion. This is great if you’re working towards a trim figure.
5. Linger in Bed.
Ideally, your bed should be used only for sleep (and one other thing I’m not supposed to mention on a family-friendly blog). Lingering there as you check your feed, mull over your tasks for the day, and so on could lead to your brain linking your bed to being awake and active.
That would spell disaster for your sleeping patterns. And trust me, it’s hard to be all chipper and productive when you’ve had far too many rough nights.
What to Do Instead: Make the bed. This signals to your brain that your day is officially starting, and reduces the temptation to climb back in.
Furthermore, once you’ve made your bed, you’ve ticked off one item on your to-do list. This will give you momentum for the other items and sets you up for greater productivity later on.
Lastly, if nothing else, a nicely-made bed is always great to come home regardless of how your day turned out.
They say success all boils down to several seemingly small good habits done consistently. When better to get started than when you wake up, right?