In the recent rise of businesses allowing employees to work from home, routines have adapted as well: Wake up, turn on the coffee pot, finish your Wordle or crossword puzzle, read your newsletters, then get to work. Unless you’re going outside to grab your morning paper or walk the dog, there isn’t much of a reason to go outside, right? Wrong.
Why you need sunshine
Every cell in your body functions off our circadian rhythms. Spending too much time inside and staying up late looking at screens can disrupt our rhythms, impairing sleep quality, energy and mood. One of the best ways we can help realign them is by getting direct sunlight right after we wake up. Morning sunlight triggers neural circuits that regulate the release of cortisol and melatonin, two important hormones that relate to our energy in the morning and our restfulness at night. Sitting by a window doesn’t give us the same effect because glass filters out some of the ultraviolet light needed to trigger these circuits. Wake up, leave the sunglasses inside, and head out for a quick stroll.
Drink water before your cup of coffee
If you’re like most people, coffee is a key part of your morning healthy routine. The sound and smell of a fresh pot brewing in the morning is enough to get you excited to start your workday. Sometimes people have their pots set on timers so that it’s already brewed by the time they get downstairs. As tempting as it is to start your day with a cup of joe, you’ll find that cup is more effective if you wait on it. After a night of sleep, it’s important to start your day with a cup of water. You likely just went 6-8 hours without any, and like it or not, it’s what your body needs. Drinking 16 oz of water before coffee will help you stay hydrated and improve cognition before your cup of coffee. Coffee is also a diuretic, which means it can dehydrate you if you’re not conscious of your water intake.
Another reason to hold off on the coffee
Aside from hydration, cortisol (think of it as a stress hormone) is highest in the morning. It’s the hormone that gets you out of bed and has your mind preparing for the day. Caffeine also increases cortisol, so waiting 30-60 minutes for that first cup of coffee will prevent your cortisol from spiking too high and leading to a crash.
Here’s how it works:
- Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that accumulates throughout the day and makes us tired.
- Our brains begin metabolizing the adenosine when we wake up, helping clear that morning fog.
- Caffeine has a higher affinity for the same receptors in our brain that adenosine binds to.
- When we drink caffeine first thing in the morning, the adenosine is displaced until the caffeine can be metabolized.
- Once the caffeine is metabolized, we now have to clear out the adenosine.
- This is why a cup of coffee first thing in the morning is more likely to lead to a crash.
Healthy habit: sit less, stand and walk more
You may have heard sitting is the new smoking. While this is quite a stretch of a statement, it does have some truth. Too much time spent sitting each day impairs our posture and our general biological function. Standing desks are more common and help offset time spent sitting, but they don’t increase total daily movement. Our bodies need to move to function optimally. Giving yourself time for a few 10-minute walks each day will tremendously benefit your health and sense of wellness. Add this to your list of healthy routines: Try to leave 10 minutes at the end of your lunch break to get outside and go for a walk. Walking after eating helps increase our ability to digest and absorb whatever it is we just ate. It also increases blood flow to our muscles and brain, allowing for us to think more clearly. It may not seem like much, but a few walks a day over a year adds up.
These are just a few ideas on how to change up your morning routine to help you feel better. For more healthy living tips see 5 Tips for a healthy heart.
In addition to working at Smart Lifebites’ parent company Crispy Green, Jackson is a Requisite Fitness/CrossFit 215 instructor. He coached for the last 7 years in Philadelphia after earning my CrossFit-Level 1 & 2 certificates. He is passionate about coaching and training. “Fitness is about finding something that will enjoy and stay consistent with. For me that is and always will be CrossFit.”