September 19th 2018
The energising morning habits that wake you up better than coffee
November 4th 2018 / 0 comment
Not that we’re dissing a double espresso, but a cup of joe isn’t the only way to get your juices flowing in the morning. Seeing as just 46% of us feel well rested on waking, here are some ideas to kickstart your system
As a coffee fiend, I’m skeptical that anything can make me feel fully cognizant and coordinated first thing that doesn’t involve some kind of French press or filter paper, but asking people who do crazy things like get up early for a living proved that certain morning habits can make all the difference between looking and feeling sluggish and switched on. Here’s how to make like a lark, even if, like me, you’re you’re as owly as they come.
Personal trainer and Soft and Gentle ambassador Alice Liveing has gotten getting up down to a fine art - seeing as she has to be on form for clients from the crack of dawn, she’s instilled some ‘wake up well’ habits, and the first one involves some good old fashioned discipline:
“I am a big advocate of waking up to my first alarm (much to my boyfriend’s dismay). I always find that if I snooze my alarm, I feel much sleepier on rising. It’s a good feeling to just get up and seize the day. If you’re someone who does really struggle to jump out of bed, try staying awake from your first alarm but use that extra snooze time to plan two or three things you’d like to achieve that day.”
It’s as productive as lying in bed for a bit gets. If you’re struggling with the alarm thing, our entire team advocates of the next ‘spring out of bed’ hack…
Get up with the sun
But who said that sun had to be the real deal? Later sunrises in the winter months can make getting up all the more arduous, as dawn darkness can disturb your natural sleep/wake cycle that’s regulated by exposure to light in the morning and limited light in the evening. Combat drowsiness on dark mornings with a sunrise simulator such as the Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150, £90. The slowly increasing levels of light wake you up gently (no sudden klaxon stress) and you can customise sunrise duration and intensity depending on your schedule, accompanying your own personal dawn with a playlist of morning sounds - from tropical rain to bleating goats (I’m serious). Dr Victoria Revell, Circadian Rhythm Expert at the University of Surrey, affirms that a “biological” wakeup call such as this serves to benefit your energy levels throughout the day too:
“Bright light has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on our level of alertness, mood, wellbeing and sleep patterns.”
If you need further convincing that a faux dawn is effective, Lumie lights are used by the British Swimming Team to ensure the squad not only make the early training sessions in the pool, but feel alert enough to smash the laps. Given that only 46 per cent of us feel well rested when we wake up according to Mintel, a bodyclock syncing sunrise could well be worth the splurge. Just don’t rely on your phone screen to be quite as uplifting…
Stall the scroll
Not only is scrolling through social media feeds first thing a bit of a timewaster, but it also spikes stress levels in Alice’s experience:
“I’ve gotten into the habit of trying not to look at my phone until I’ve completed my morning routine and am on my way to work. I was finding that opening my phone up straight after waking tended to cause me anxiety from the get-go. Since introducing this step to my morning ritual I’ve found it so much easier to get myself ready in a positive headspace first thing in the morning.”
Try swapping passive scrolling for a little reflecting or happy planning - Alice keeps a notepad next to her bed to scrawl down any golden ideas that arise on waking to prevent them from “getting lost” and establish clarity of thought. If you’re feeling even more proactive, give bullet journaling a go to prep for your day/ week/ life ahead.
If you can stand to set that sunrise alarm a few minutes earlier, a quick once over with a body brush will get your circulation going, help to warm you up on chilly mornings and exfoliate skin so that you’re altogether a smoother criminal when you emerge from the shower. Try the Mio Body Brush, £14.50, and for even more in-shower energy consider taking on Alice’s next early morning tradition…
I might be giving this one the cold shoulder but if it works for a bright eyed and bushy tailed PT there must be something in it…
“I’ve recently started making my morning showers a little chillier, and while this change is only for the brave, it really does make you feel awake and alert first thing in the morning. As someone who goes straight into seeing clients back to back before many people have gotten out of bed, it’s a good way to ensure I feel on the ball.”
If you’d prefer a more metaphorical rather than physically chilled ‘wash and go’ the following blend will tick that box.
Try some aromatherapy
I tend to ring fence aromatherapy for times when I need to wind down, for example a dab on pulse points after end of day yoga, during the occasional massage or a few drops of essential oil in an evening bath. A splash of a more energising blend, however, can stimulate the senses just as the likes of lavender can be used to lull you to sleep. The award-winning Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil, £48 for 55ml, is just the tonic if you’re far from a lark but need to get moving. Add a few drops to your shower steam and let the grapefruit, rosemary and juniper essential oils work their morning magic.
...then take it with you
According to a survey of Londoners by Liberty London and nightwear brand The Pavilion Ball, 62 per cent of commuters take a quick nap on the way to work, with 14 per cent admitting to actually falling asleep at work. These are both stats I find impressive given the usually sardined status of the tubes and open plan office designs, however, in an ideal world we probably wouldn’t conk out on the job. Aromatherapy to the rescue - I’m calling Tata Harper Aromatic Energy Treatment, £57 for 5ml, the 21st century take on smelling salts. Rub the fruity, buzzy blend between palms and inhale deeply before taking on TFL.
C’s the day
Okay that was a convoluted suggestion to include some brightening vitamin C in your morning routine. Deemed an “essential” antioxidant by dermatologists, vitamin C helps to defend skin from pollution and UV induced free-radicals you’ll no doubt face during the day while brightening skin tone and clarity over time. Basically, if you’re after a morning booster in skincare form, C is it. Lixir Skin Vitamin C Paste, £32 for 50ml, is designed to act as a “quick morning mask” - it clears away the cobwebs and leaves skin smooth and as radiant as it can reasonably be pre-7am.
O-pen your eyes
Urban Outfitters’ new in-house beauty range has tired eyes in mind - the ohii Wake Up Pen, £15, is a peachy, light reflective liquid that can be swiped on to neutralise dark circles. Not that a lack of sleep actually triggers dark circles (skin myth right there), but no one needs to live their life in the shadows.
Experiment with a different kind of shot
Rather than a double shot americano, nutritionist Rosie Millen suggests switching to warming ginger if you’ve got the time (and the blender):
“If you have a juicer at home blend some ginger with apple juice for an alternative energy boost.”
Incorporating spices into your first morning drink can also help to stimulate digestion and your energy levels - Pukka’s new herbal organic lattes include aforementioned ginger, turmeric and cinnamon depending on which flavour you favour, and the caffeine reliant can get a little lift without the jitters by way of the Majestic Matcha Chai, £4.99 for 15 servings.
Don’t limit your morning sustenance to a latte, however. Advising you eat breakfast is the most basic morning suggestion there is, but physiologist, sleep therapist and Silentnight expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan confirms that making time to tuck into a meal genuinely has a role in waking you up:
“Not eating proper food within 30 minutes of waking up leaves your body running on the wrong kind of energy and relying on stress hormones to function.
“Eating breakfast activates your circadian clock and allows your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. People who eat a proper breakfast find it less difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, wake up with more energy and are less inclined to hit the snooze button. Eating breakfast can also boost your overall mood and reduce feelings of anxiety.”
With that, I’m off to make toast and wrestle with my Nutribullet.