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5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Mornings

Expert advice from author Laura Vanderkam for creating an effective morning routine

A breakfast bowl with fresh figs, blueberries, kiwi, orange, sliced apples and sprig of mint

When the alarm clock goes off, it can be a real challenge to get cracking in the morning. So we spoke to Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, for her advice on how to make your mornings more productive for mind, body and soul. 

Track your (night) time

Making mornings brighter starts the night before. While it can be tempting to stay up late doing endless activities, Vanderkam says to be more mindful about how you spend your evenings.

“Do the hours before bed disappear into too much TV or web surfing?” says Vanderkam. “You might be able to cut that short, go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.”

Plan out a nightly routine that allows you to relax and get “bed ready.” For instance, cut out binge-watching TV series or trolling social media, and instead, take a warm bath or shower. According to scientists, the increase in body temperature followed by cooling down afterwards sends a sleep signal to your brain.

A headshot of author Laura Vanderkam transposed over a photo of a breakfast table, phone, croissant, mug of coffee and a large bowl of fresh strawberries are seen on the table 

The bottom line? As Vanderkam says: “Good mornings depend on good evenings—and good evenings stem from spending time consciously.”

Get enough sleep

“Related to the above, you will not have good mornings if you’re sleep deprived,” says Vanderkam.

A woman lies in bed, her hair in a bun while looking at her phone, the light shining on her face in the dark 

How much sleep is enough? The answer largely depends on the individual, but most people feel well rested and at their best after an eight-hour slumber.

There are some tricks to improving your sleep quality, too. Stop caffeine intake (which includes coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) and avoid big meals at least four hours before bedtime, and unplug all screens one hour before you hit the hay. Ultimately, being sleep savvy will make sure that you get all your ZZZs.

Don’t hit the snooze button

Snoozing may feel good in the moment, but the truth is, it isn’t bettering your mornings.

“Snoozing is the worst of all worlds,” says Vanderkam. “You’re not rising and going about your day, but you’re not really sleeping either. Snooze sleep is lousy sleep.”

A black alarm clock sits on a bedside table indicating the time is seven AM 

Rather than dozing your morning away, Vanderkam says to set your alarm for the time you actually intend to get out of bed—and then do it! If pulling yourself from a cozy bed is a challenge, try this simple trick.

“To make snoozing less tempting, try using a real alarm clock—not your phone,” she suggests. “Put it all the way across the room so you have to get up.”

Build enjoyment into the morning routine

Give yourself a reason to get up. It may take a little planning, but Vanderkam recommends finding the fun in mornings, whatever that looks like for you.

“Build a morning routine around something you really want to do,” she says. “If you hate to run, you won’t run regularly in the morning. Choose an activity that’s actually motivating, so your bed will be less tempting.”

A woman in workout clothes practices yoga on a rooftop, standing outstretched in a yoga pose on a pink yoga mat 

Love meditating? Join a morning yoga class or dedicate some time for a quiet moment at home. If you like playing chef, try out a new breakfast recipe, or take a sunrise walk or bike ride with friends or family. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it gets you geared to go at daybreak.

“It may not be a huge amount of time, but that’s okay,” says Vanderkam. “A half-hour workout is better than nothing. Or alternate working out some days, and writing in a journal or reading something inspirational on others.”

Reward yourself

Once you’ve got it down, give yourself a gold star! Find ways to inject a little treat into the morning routine or show appreciation for the forthcoming day. Perhaps it’s a trip to your favourite bakery, or a subscription to a newspaper or magazine of your choice.

A hand holds a mug of coffee, the other hand flips the page of a magazine, a bowl of muesli laid out on the table 

“I find that really good coffee is a good motivator to get up!” says Vanderkam.

Making New Year’s resolutions?

Start with small changes using these 5 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier Home. Also, keep the planet top of mind and reduce waste by keeping your family’s routine green.

Image credits: Unsplash, Pexels, iStock/ljubaphoto and Yana Shellman