If you bolt out of bed feeling frazzled and poorly rested to the sound of an alarm blaring, consider an intentional morning routine. A morning routine can boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels, and get you grounded and settled for the day. It’s about starting your day with intention and control rather than letting the morning (and the day) control you. Your morning routine sets the tone for your day. Make it count. Here’s how.
The Importance of a Morning Routine
We humans thrive on consistency and routine. The body feels safe when it knows what to expect: consistent bedtimes, mealtimes, waking times, exercise times. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can improve your sleep quality. If you’re in a high stress job with a lot of variability, a morning (and a bedtime) routine is even more important for you to reduce stress. Workplace stress has hugely negative impacts on our health and wellbeing.
Routine also prevents decision fatigue. The more we struggle to make decisions, the more energy we deplete. I mention this to my clients regularly. The more dialed in your routine, the fewer daily (or even hourly) decisions you have to make, and little healthy habits that you implement become second nature. Humans make 35,000 decisions per day. Take some of this stress off your plate by creating a routine you can flow through daily.
The idea is to infuse some consistency into your morning. Maybe you start with just 5 minutes and then work your way up from there. Maybe you have 30 minutes or even an hour. Start with what you have, but commit to the process for at least a month. From there, new habits become routine with less effort.
Morning Routine Guidelines
You can structure your morning routine any way you like, but there are some habits to prioritize. These habits include the following:
- Hydrate first thing. Before you reach for coffee or anything else, hydrate with 16 ounces of water. The body uses a lot of water overnight, so we often wake up dehydrated. Some subtle signs you need to hydrate include headache, dry mouth, constipation, and even feeling tired. Add freshly squeezed lemon and electrolytes to your morning water to infuse your body with hydration to give you energy all day and flush toxins. Click here for my morning drink.
- Light exposure: Getting a few minutes of bright morning light can trigger your brain to release chemicals that regulate your circadian rhythm. This can even help you sleep at night.
- Movement: get your lymphatic system moving with some exercise. Could be 5 minutes on the rebounder, 20 minutes of yoga, a 30 minute run or walk, whatever you have time for.
- Meditation: sit quietly and train your mind. Whether you have 5 minutes or 20, it’s all beneficial.
- Make time for a morning poop. Pooping daily is incredibly important for overall health and hormone balance. Help your body take out the trash by making time in your morning routine for a poop. Read how here (bottom of the post).
Example Morning Routine
To show you how to put it all together, I’ll use my morning routine as an example. Remember, your routine doesn’t have to be super time consuming. If you only have ten minutes in the morning, prioritize hydration and a few minutes of meditation and cleansing breaths to clear your mind and ground you for the upcoming day. Here’s what I do with my morning:
- Wake up naturally with no alarm. If you’re dragging yourself out of bed unrested in the morning, work on your sleep quality. (tips here).
- Hydrate! Here’s my morning beauty elixir. It’s about 24 ounces that I sip throughout the morning.
- Green tea
- Meditation for 5-7 minutes
- Morning sunlight exposure (often I combine this with meditation and green tea)
- Exercise. Sometimes this is a barre workout, yoga, running, or a hike in the woods.
- Smoothie. I’m liking this smoothie right now.
- Check email and get to work.
This takes me anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes depending on the day and exercise duration. You can add morning journaling or a gratitude practice. I prioritize hydration and morning movement. I like getting blood flowing and cleaning out the cobwebs that accumulate overnight.
Remember, just start out with 1 or 2 of these habits if you’re short on time or if this list seems overwhelming. You can add to it as you go. Start with hydration and a few cleansing breaths to ground you if that’s all you have time for right now.
BONUS: Make an Evening Routine
If you want to take your day to the next level, add in an evening/bedtime routine once you’ve mastered the morning routine. I always recommend an evening routine to my clients who struggle with insomnia or sleep issues. Sleep affects every aspect of health and is essential to every process in the body. Good sleep is crucial for physical and mental function the following day and boosts metabolism, your ability to fight disease, and lowers chronic disease risk.
A bedtime routine supports restful sleep and may help lower cortisol levels at night. Elevated evening cortisol is one big reason people have trouble falling or staying asleep. Your evening routine should be a calm and relaxing way to transition from a busy day to a restful evening.
Sleep and bedroom hygiene are important factors for good rest, so make sure your bedroom is very dark and cool (no higher than 65 degrees at night), free from invasive electronics (NO falling asleep with the TV blaring), and as quiet as possible (consider a white noise machine). Read more sleep hygiene tips here.
For your evening routine, start an hour or so before bed. Here are the important habits to include for an evening routine:
- Dim the lights an hour or so before bed to help reduce nighttime cortisol levels and support melatonin production
- Relaxing or calming activity which could include reading, meditation, listening to calming music, epsom salt bath
- Have a cup of herbal tea (an hour before bed so you don’t have to wake up to pee)
- Ideally avoid blue light exposure at night, but if you want to read or watch a device, get blue blocker glasses/lenses
- If you find yourself waking up at 3am wide awake, you may have nocturnal hypoglycemic due to blood sugar regulation issues. This bedtime hack will help.
If you struggle with insomnia here are your priorities before sleep:
- No caffeine after 12pm
- Stop all beverage intake an hour before bed
- No alcohol (huge sleep disruptor)
- Very dark room to encourage melatonin production
- Absolutely no watching screens an hour before bed (if you read on a kindle, wear blue blocker glasses)
- Try magnesium bisgylcinate together with these sleep support chewables
The body thrives on routine, and establishing a morning routine can keep you grounded and focused for your day. Whether you have 5 or 30 minutes in the morning, start simple and prioritize habits like hydration, movement, meditation, and work up from there.
Once you master the morning routine, create a bedtime routine to support sleep hygiene, You’ll feel so much more grounded and energized for your efforts!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.