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Let’s be honest. For most people, it’s not easy to get up first thing in the morning, especially when it’s still dark. But a lot of successful people say,
“If you win the morning, you win the day.”
In fact, there are all kinds of clichés about rising early. There’s the one about the early bird getting the worm, to which I always reply that I don’t want the worm.
However, there are so many other benefits to waking up early, from better performance in work to being more able to stick to a diet plan.
In this article, I’ll discuss the benefits in more detail, provide you nine helpful tips to make rising early a habit, and answer some questions you have about starting a morning routine.
People who wake up early tend to eat breakfast, while later risers are often rushing out the door and have to grab something convenient (i.e. unhealthy), or they skip the meal altogether.
The problem with skipping breakfast is that it leads to poorer eating habits later in the day. If you’re hungry because you missed a meal, the doughnut in the break room may be too tempting to resist.
After a night of restful sleep, our skin is at its best first thing in the morning. And if you’re an early riser, you can take advantage of the morning hours to give your skin some extra TLC.
Similar to the breakfast example above, people who get up later in the day tend to focus less on healthy morning habits like hydrating and exercise, which oxygenates your blood and promotes healthy skin. Early morning risers can also use the extra time to exfoliate, moisturize and cleanse.
People who wake up early also tend to have regular sleeping habits (unlike the night owls who keep erratic sleeping schedules). Having a predictable sleep routine ensures that your skin gets proper time to rejuvenate.
I enjoy an after-work gym session as much as the next person, but I’ll also admit to missing a fair number of workouts because of commitments at the office or with my family. And sometimes, I’m tired after a full day of work!
When you exercise in the morning, you’re less likely to have an excuse. Plus, you’ll find that your morning workout will keep you energized all day long.
Starting your day early improves your concentration. In addition to being able to focus on goals and task lists without being interrupted by family members or coworkers, getting up early means that by the time you get to work or school, you’ve had hours to properly acclimate yourself to the day. You’ll be more alert during peak hours as a result.
Most successful people report that they’re up at 5 am, or even earlier. Early risers tend to be more productive for a variety of reasons, including:
Keeping your body on a sleep routine will make it easier to go to sleep and wake up naturally at the same time each night. This is important for your body’s internal clock. If you go to bed late and wake up late on the weekends, for example, it’s harder for your body to adjust.
People who get up early are naturally sleepier when it’s the “normal” time to go to bed. And being on a predictable routine will help you sleep better each night and wake feeling more rested.
Sometimes it amazes me that not everyone gets up earlier. It’s a miracle how quiet the world is first thing in the morning. Not only are there zero distractions, which will allow you to enjoy peace and quiet, but you’ll also find that your daily commute is easier if you leave an hour earlier and beat all the traffic.
Plus, you get to avoid all that annoying office chit chat about weekends and kids and all the stuff you have to pretend to care about to be “polite.”
If you typically wake up at 8 am and decide that tomorrow you want to be out of bed by 5 am, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, try waking up just 15 minutes earlier each day. Within a week, you’ll have worked your way up to almost two hours!
Start going to bed earlier than you normally would. That way you’ll get enough hours of sleep, and you won’t feel deprived when the alarm goes off. If you’re not tired when it’s time to catch some zzz’s, read a few pages of a book, especially a boring one, and you’ll be in dreamland in no time.
Unless you naturally wake up at your goal time every morning, you’re going to need to set an alarm. I recommend putting it across the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. I also set the alarm to play an inspirational or energetic song to help nudge me out of bed. Something with a positive message or an upbeat sound is much better to wake up to than a series of obnoxious beeps.
We’ve all turned off our alarm and crawled right back into bed. It’s so warm and comfy, right?
Instead, leave your bedroom. Whether it’s a trip to the bathroom or the coffee maker, once you’ve put enough distance between you and that blissful mattress you’ll find that you’re awake enough to start the day.
Your long list of emergencies is not the driver that should spring you out of bed every morning. Instead, think of something positive that you plan on accomplishing. Maybe you can tell yourself something like you’ll get to leave work early if you get to work earlier. Or if you enjoy meditating but don’t often have the time, use that as a reason to get up and start your day.
By rising early, you’re rewarding yourself. Try to remember that. If that’s enough of a motivation, bribe yourself with a treat from your favorite coffee shop or an extra long shower if you manage to get out of bed on time and without pressing snooze.
Is there a book you’ve wanted to read or an online class you’ve been considering enrolling in? Use the extra time you get in the morning to do something that helps you grow and improve.
Even though eating before bed can make you sleepy, it’s also been known to disrupt your sleep and even cause nightmares. You need to listen to your body on this one. If your tummy is grumbling, try a soothing cup of herbal tea instead of a carb-filled snack. If you struggle to get off to sleep, try porridge before bed, it will help you drift off. If you find yourself waking in the night, stick to the herbal tea!!
Even if you tell yourself the night before that you plan on rising before dawn, it’s almost like you have a second personality that takes over when the alarm goes off and urges you to go back to sleep. It’s unnerving.
To avoid that evil monster living inside your brain, you’re going to have to be firm. If you can’t reason with it, then you’ll need to set up external cues in your environment. I recommend putting a reminder on my phone about my commitment or sleeping in my exercise clothes, so I’m all ready to start my day as soon as I wake up.
The answers to this question will vary depending on whom you ask. A lot of CEOs and gurus will tell you 5 am. However, the medical community generally agrees that the best time to wake up is at sunrise. Sunrise isn’t practical as it changes all thew time, so go with 5am to 6am, but no later.
The most important thing to keep in mind is consistency. Set a time that you plan to wake up and stick to it.
Besides having to rush around and feel like you’re playing catch up all day, the harmful effects of waking up late include having a hard time falling asleep when it’s time for bed and messing up your internal clock.
If you woke up each day of the week at 6 am and then slept in until 8 am or 9 am on Saturday, you’ve completely thrown off your clock, and you’ll feel effects similar to jet lag. When Sunday rolls around, and you try to resume your normal sleep schedule, you’re likely not to feel tired at bedtime, and in turn, you’ll be exhausted when the alarm goes off on Monday morning.
A morning routine sets the tone for your entire day. This is especially if you’re forcing yourself to get up early and you’re not naturally an early riser.
Having a set routine each morning will help you stay focused and productive. Countless productivity experts agree that the first thing you do in the morning is to make your bed. It gives you a small win and you can claim completing that task as your first accomplishment of the day!
There’s a strong correlation between waking up early and scoring higher on tests. Texas University found in a recent study that the students who got up earlier got higher grades and performed better on tests than students who slept in.
Back pain is the UK’s leading cause of disability. Almost 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The most common area for back pain is the lower back (lumbar spine), followed by the neck (cervical spine). Many of the current problems come from professional people like you, spending too much time at your desk.
“Sitting is the new smoking.’
I have got a lot of experience of back pain, both in terms of suffering from it and from successfully eliminating it from my life and the lives of many of my clients. I am going to share my considerable experience with you, because most back pain is both avoidable and treatable by you, without any need for medical intervention.
The Podfit philosophy is to build a strong core and then to build strong muscles (including the heart) around it.
Back pain includes sore muscles and tendons, prolapsed (‘slipped’) discs, fractures and other problems affecting the back. Back pain can develop over a long period of time, or can result from an accident or heavy lifting. Other serious back conditions involve the abnormal curvature of the spine and are labelled as scoliosis.
I have a condition known as functional scoliosis. I live my life 99% back pain free
When I was a teenager, all I ever wanted to do was play professional football and I signed for York City Football club at 13. About a month after signing, I broke my leg playing for my school, Thirsk, in an away fixture at Stokesley. Its one of those moments I can recall like it was yesterday and it was to be one that shaped my life and indeed my spine. I broke both the bones in my lower left leg and the tibia was fractured on the growth plate. I had surgery to put the bones back into alignment and I was told that the leg might not grow properly because of the position of the fracture. However, 5 months later I was playing for York City’s youth team, I had a bright future ahead of me and I forgot about my leg, which had healed perfectly…..
I slipped a lumbar disc 3 times before I was 30, each one progressively more painful, resulting in more time off work than the previous one and by the time my left leg was officially diagnosed as being over 2 inches shorter than the right, I was in a lot of pain on a daily basis. Playing football of any kind was a distant memory. Eventually I had problems in my lower back and my neck and this resulted in a spinal fusion (see right). The fusion fixed my neck, but I still had lots of lower back pain and it was making my life difficult to enjoy to the full.
I was cared for by a great surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary, Gerry Towns, who told me to develop a strong core and began to research what this meant. Over a decade later, I have developed a comprehensive professional library for spinal health ranging from rehabilitation to strength, including a wealth of priceless core strengthening exercises and tips and strategies for mobilising the spine at work.
I know how common back pain in the community is: so many clients come for consultations at Podfit and talk about back pain of some sort. Some come only to have their back pain fixed, like Daphne
After suffering a bad fall which resulted in broken vertebrae and compacted discs I really struggled to live a normal life. I had physio and tried swimming and joined a gym, but nothing helped the back pain and with lack of exercise I put on weight. This went on for nearly two years until I was recommended to Neil at Podfit. He has turned my life around, he is not only a superb personal trainer, he knows first hand about back pain and nutrition. Since my first appointment three months ago I have lost almost one and a half stone but more importantly, I am 99% pain free. I can now go out and walk for hours instead of looking for seats every ten minutes. He has supported me totally and I feel he has given me my life back. I can recommend him for anyone who needs to be fitter.
When and how to start exercising depends on 4 main factors:
The first thing I would consider is to think of your back pain as the effect of lots of aspects of your life and do not isolate it to the fall you had or specific point at which your back pain started. Back pain ranks high on the list of self-inflicted ailments. Most of our back troubles happen because of bad habits, generally developed over a long period of time. These bad back habits include:
Look at your lifestlye and take action in every area possible. For example, lose weight if you need to. Have you every carried a backpack? Ever been pregnant? If you are overweight, you are putting unnecessary weight on the spine and you really need to be as light as possible.
Following a structured diet will not only help you to lose weight, it will also help fight inflammation and the right foods can help other areas of you life to support back recovery such as improved sleep patterns.
Learn how to mobilise the spine. Don’t make the mistake that sitting or lying still is going to fix you in the long term, its going to make things worse. You might have to lay still for a short period of time for some really bad disc bulges and its important to listen to your body, however, at some point, you are going to have to break through the pain barrier and get moving again. When I first really learned how to manage my back pain, getting up after a night’s sleep was really painful. But the more frequently I forced myself up for an early morning walk, followed by a proper mobilisation workout, the less severe my morning back pain became, until, eventually, it disappeared. Two really important exercises are the pelvic tilt and the child’s pose.
Learn how to engage the core. The core is comprised of layers of muscle on your stomach, back, and butt, which support your pelvis and spine. These muscles work as a team to keep your posture tall and your back safe from any strains that can cause pain or injury. Engaging your core is different than sucking in your tummy. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat to the floor. Imagine bracing your stomach muscles as if you’re going brace for a punch in your gut. They should feel rooted and secure. Now, at the same time push you back into the floor as hard as you can. Your spine is now stable and the core is engaged.
Get up early and exercise the spine every day for the rest of your life. It’s pretty simple this one. It’s your back. Its your life. Your health is the most important aspect of your life. Back pain can make your life a misery and it’s entirely avoidable. Your choice…
Use a foam roller. If you haven’t got one of these at home or at work, then it’s time you spent £30 on yourself today. Discovering this was a major breakthrough for me and I have purchased lots of these for my clients We use trigger point foam rollers.
When you are going to the gym to exercise, leave your ego at home. Its really important this one. Form is everything if you have a bad back. Squat with no more than 25-50% body weight and concentrate on engaging the core and squat with slow concentric and eccentric movement (slow down, slow up!). If you are crying out loud, “squat? I cant squat with my back, I can barely sit down”, then you need to look at the rehab phase and learn how to really mobilise the spine first, but I had Daphne squatting in 6 weeks, with weight. I had Daphne squatting because its actually a really good exercise for engaging and strengthening the core, when its done properly.
Progression needs to be slow, but steady. If you are prepared to work daily then you will make progress. You will be amazed how much progress you will make in a month with 20 minutes a day.
Use a lower back expert to get you started if you are in any way not sure that you are doing the right thing.
If you have been suffering for a long time and you haven’t managed to fix this with the help of your GP and associated services, or if you have only recently had a back injury, but you want to know how to make sure it doesn’t lead to a lifetime of suffering, then I can help, using a proven programme, which will lead to a lifetime free of back pain.
Corrective diet planning to reduce inflammation, build lean muscle and drop fat.
If you or someone you know is suffering, but you’re not quite ready to seek professional help, the exercises below will get you started on the road to a pain free lower back. I hope you find them and indeed this article useful.