As the saying goes, “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But, what if we told you it doesn’t actually matter when you go to bed and wake up? You can still be all the things that adage promises, as long as you make a successful morning routine and avoid a few mistakes. By Stacey Leasca
There are innumerable reasons why a person may not get to bed early and rise before the sun. Be it late shifts, kids, a nagging deadline, dirty dishes that simply must get done, or anything in between. However, just because some people can’t get to bed at an hour others deem reasonable doesn’t mean they can’t absolutely own their mornings. Just take it from Liz Plosser, who literally wrote the book on how to have a successful morning.
“There is a little bit of a misconception out there that I was born a morning person. I definitely was not,” Plosser, the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health and author of “Own Your Morning,” shared with Travel + Leisure.
“I’m with all the people who are struggling to get out of bed,” continued Plosser. “But, I have learned over time — and mostly since I graduated from college and started in the working world — that morning hours are the hours I can control. Once I started taking control of them and doing things that really fired me up, it made my entire day, week, month, and life better.”
According to Plosser, it’s well within your power to take back the first few moments of your day, and there are lots of cool tricks (with science to back them up) to do so. Keep reading to learn five mistakes that may make your mornings more difficult — and what you should be doing in those first few moments your eyes flutter open instead.
Hitting the snooze
“I want everybody to know this: This is not about you having to wake up at 5:00 am. It’s truly not. It’s about making the most of the morning, whenever it feels right,” Plosser said. What that means is picking the right time to actually get up and go versus hitting the snooze button over and over again.
“I used to set my alarm 30 minutes before I needed to really wake up knowing I was going to snooze it three times. It was so enlightening to learn through reporting this book, talking to scientists, and looking at the research that doing so is not doing us any favours,” Plosser said, pointing to the fact that the latter half of sleep is where humans experience the most REM sleep, which is the most restorative.
“Please don’t break it up with needlessly snoozing because you’re not getting anything out of it once you’re up. What would be better is being realistic about what time you want to get up in the first place.”
Picking the wrong alarm
Getting up to a harsh alarm in the morning can be jarring and put you in the wrong mindset. Plosser suggested picking a soothing tone to wake up to rather than the stock sound that comes on your phone.
“Set your alarm to a sound that makes you feel good. Whether it’s a song or chimes, anything that will force yourself to stop pressing the snooze button because you’re taking away that super restorative REM sleep,” she explained.
Not adequately preparing the night before
Sure, Plosser wrote a book about mornings, but as she told T+L, having a great morning means preparing the night before.
“It’s already so hard to motivate and to do what you need to do in the morning,” Plosser said, adding just how easy it can be to crawl back into bed if a single thing goes wrong in the morning. But, rather than let things get in the way, Plosser suggests ensuring a smooth path from bed to the door the night before. Even if your routine is just getting from your bed to your home office.
“We’ve been working from home, and a lot of us are working in lounge pants and sweatpants and sweatshirts, which is awesome. But even pick out those things at night because a lot of research shows it takes us 17 minutes in the morning to choose what we’re going to wear. And those are your most precious neuron moments.” Plosser notes people like Steve Jobs, who famously wore the same thing every day just to avoid this very problem, adding “there’s a method to the madness. He didn’t want to zap that brainpower in the morning. He wanted to put it onto other things.”
Not understanding your personal “power-up”
According to Plosser, the real crux of owning a morning and avoiding a mistake is understanding what makes you feel your best and turning that into an am routine.
The book, Plosser said, is really about helping people “figure out their personal power-ups to help them supercharge both their mornings and thus the rest of their day too.”
This comes down to figuring out your core values. It could be that you value having a little solo time in the morning, so ensuring you have adequate time and space to pour a cup of coffee and listen to the sounds of the morning may be right for you. It could be meditating, Or, as Plosser does, it could be ensuring there’s time to journal — even for five minutes — to write down how you’re feeling or what you want to accomplish that day. Plosser said, journaling can be as simple as writing down a sentence or two, what you’re grateful for, or even what the weather is like outside that day.
“It can be that little,” she noted, “but taking that moment to myself and checking in as a human being before I go out in the world and do all the things — be a mom, be a boss, be a fitness enthusiast, — that’s really impactful.”
Again, the cool thing, Plosser said, “is that everybody’s morning looks different. Everybody’s version of that is super different.” So just make sure to take a beat, learn what matters to you, and lean into that.
Not moving a muscle
Plosser may work for the bible of women’s fitness, but that doesn’t mean she thinks you have to run 10 miles (16 km) in the morning. All she’s suggesting is dusting off the nighttime cobwebs before you begin your day.
“There’s so much power in moving your body and how that affects your clarity, your confidence,” she said. And again, science backs her up. According to Harvard Health, exercise can increase brain activity in the areas that run our “executive function and memory” and can even promote the growth of new brain cells, which is exactly what we need in the am.
“I used to think it had to be a five-mile (8 km) run account. And I am so glad I learned this lesson. It does not. It can be a 10-minute walk. It can be getting on my foam roller. It can be literally just going into a happy baby for a few minutes. It’s like having a natural cappuccino because of what it does for your body.”
The ultimate point of it all, Plosser said, is to realise that any effort you make in the morning is awesome, so long as it’s serving your needs for the next 24 hours ahead. It’s also giving yourself the empathy that not every morning will be ideal.
“There are good mornings, and there are perfect mornings,” she says, though “perfect” may not be what you think.
“In my mind,” Plosser shared, “the perfect mornings are more in the ‘crazy stuff happens and you still filled yourself up and did everything you needed to do and survived’ category. That way, you’re ready to kick ass in your day.”