What is your morning routine?
I wake up between 8:00 and 8:30am, depending on what time I go to bed. I care less about the wake-up time than about the number of hours slept - I calculate my alarm time based on multiples of 90 minutes, which is the average length of a sleep cycle. If I have no constraints on time, I’ll set my alarm for eight hours after I go to bed, which is five sleep cycles (seven and a half hours of sleep) and thirty minutes of padding to fall asleep. If I can’t fit in eight hours, then I’ll knock it back to six and a half, then five, and so on.
I’ve found it to be much, much easier to wake up if I follow these sleep cycles, even though it seems to defy logic to get six hours of sleep instead of seven.
Once I do wake up, though, I’m usually pretty alert and I check in on my email/notifications to make sure that nothing needs my attention. After that I’ll get out of bed, tend to the plants in the house, and start some coffee. I’ve started doing stretches in the morning lately; it feels nice to wake up my body as well as my mind. Once the coffee is ready, I usually read through Twitter for a bit, and then bring the coffee back to bed. My boyfriend gets home on the later side, so waking up together and hanging out in bed for a half hour is a nice way for us to spend time together.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
In all honesty, my morning routine is pretty recent. I left a job two months ago that had a fairly early start time (eek!) and I now work from home most days. This allows me to be more intentional about my morning routine, and to consider its effect on the rest of my day.
I’ve also been trying to expand on my physical activity. Traditionally, I’ve saved my workouts for the end of the workday and only gone when I felt like it, but I’m trying to incorporate more regular physical activity throughout my day. The stretches are a good start - I might even add some exercises in, but no promises. I’ve tried to integrate yoga videos and guided meditation recordings, but haven’t found anything that sticks yet.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I check my calendar to make sure that I don’t have anything the next day that I forgot about. I like to go to bed knowing what tasks I have for the next day.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I do use an alarm to wake up, but I try to avoid using the snooze button. My personal theory is that waking up quickly is a skill that you can acquire with practice, and I don’t want to lose that skill!
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I try to eat breakfast within the first hour of waking up. I don’t like to put a lot of effort into making breakfast every day, so I’ll often cook a batch of breakfast burritos and freeze them. My other breakfast staple is a whole sweet potato - just put it in the oven, come back an hour later and it’s filling enough for an entire meal (plus, it’s super healthy!). If I don’t eat breakfast, I’ll have a terrible time concentrating for the rest of the morning.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I check my email first thing in the morning to make sure there isn’t anything urgent, but I try to hold off on answering it until later in the day. I find that I’m most creative and productive when I first wake up, so I try to channel that into more worthwhile tasks.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I use a bandana for a sleep mask because I’m very sensitive to light while sleeping. It’s a holdover from the days when I was traveling full-time because no sleep mask meant one less thing to carry, and back then I always had an emergency bandana on me.
It makes it easier to fall asleep too, since I’ve developed a Pavlovian response to wearing it!
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Right after turning off my alarm - I’ve read that this isn’t the healthiest thing to do, but checking my email/notifications gets my head immediately into a productive mode instead of wanting to lay around in bed.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
A tall glass of water, immediately after waking up. I’m very keen on staying hydrated!
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Oh, this whole routine gets thrown out the window on weekends. If I have a blessed few hours that I can spend uninterrupted, I will roll right out of bed and go straight to my desk. I’ll usually make some coffee, but I mostly try to be engrossed for as long possible in the morning.
At some point I’ll have to give up to shower and get some food, but it’s hard for me to get back to the level of focus that I have right after I wake up. This approach only works for my personal projects, though… for the regular workday I need to prep my mental space.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
This is something that I’m still working on! Normally when I travel, I’m going out a lot more than when I’m at home, so I am usually waking up later and shortening the routine to just checking my notifications.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I hate having to rush to get ready in the mornings. I think the stress of rushing often causes me to forget other things that I need to do. Sometimes it feels like a rushed morning can throw off an entire day.
Our recommended book this week is The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.