Have you ever wondered how the most successful individuals start their days? Do they struggle to get out of bed and repeatedly hit snooze? Do they skip breakfast and rush out the door?
Research shows that how you start your day affects your mood and performance at work more than you think. Harvard Business Review found that starting your day off on the wrong foot leads to frequent breaks throughout the day to cope with workload, resulting in more than a 10% loss of productivity.
We’ve taken a look at what the experts say and what some of the world’s most successful people do.
- Good night sleep
Benjamin Spall, co-author of My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired, swears by a good night’s sleep to help kick-start your morning. Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function. The recommended length is dependent on your age but generally speaking 7-9 hours is the recommended adult sleep range.
Perhaps you’re a little more hard-core and can survive off less sleep such as “The Rock” (Dwayne Johnson). The highly successful actor and former WWE wrestling star told Variety that he gets just three to five hours a night.
- Wake up to natural light
Studies show that your mood is instantly boosted when waking up to natural light. Circadian rhythms are physiological, mental and behavioural changes governed by the body within a 24-hour clock and sleeping at night and being awake during the day is an example of a light-related circadian rhythm.
As we get older, the melatonin in our bodies starts decreasing, so we wake up earlier and earlier with the change beginning to happen in our thirties. A study from Paul Kelley and Oxford University states that the ideal wakeup time when we’re in our twenties is 9:30am, in our thirties, 8am, in our forties, 7:30 am, in our fifties, 7am and in our sixties, 6:30 a.m.
If you’re like The Rock, he likes to wake before sunlight and uses these extra hours to plan his day, meditate and work out. Richard Branson, the world-wide known entrepreneur and businessman swears by a stable morning routine no matter where he is on the planet and wakes each morning at 5am by natural light.
Despite our best intentions, a lot of us struggle to get out of bed an hour earlier to get in that morning workout. Exercising before breakfast mimics the fasting state and can help kick start weight loss. If you have low blood sugar, eat a banana or a small energy bar 10-15 minutes before exercise.
Researchers in Japan have found that fat oxidation occurs if exercisers work out before breakfast. One Belgian study found that eating a high-caloric diet had no effect on fasting exercisers but caused those who worked out after eating to gain weight.
A big benefit of exercising in the morning is that if you crawl into bed after a long, difficult day feeling unaccomplished, your early morning workout will be the one thing on the list that you got done today.
Many successful individuals follow this, including Richard Branson who enjoys a couple of sets of tennis in the morning and Bill Gates who likes to work-out on the treadmill whilst watching educational DVD’s. If not physical then try brain exercise like business woman and politician, Karren Brady, who plays the hardest Sudoku puzzle every morning before work.
Overnight our body uses energy stores for growth and repair so it’s vital we eat breakfast to refuel our bodies, as well as protein and calcium that has been used throughout the night.
Many of us still skip breakfast, including one of the wealthiest men on the planet, Bill Gates. Richard Branson opts for high-fibre muesli companioned by a cup of tea, whereas Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook is less picky as he doesn’t like to waste time on small decisions.
- Make your bed
This may seem like a menial task to start your day with but in the grand scheme of things, this is a simple action that will make you feel accomplished before you’ve even left the house. Tim Ferriss has interviewed hundreds of successful individuals on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, and found that making your bed is one of the most common actions completed in the morning. Completing simple tasks will act as the foundation to other accomplishments throughout the day.
After 7-9 hours of no water, one of the most important things you can do is drink a large glass to rehydrate you. Your brain is made up on 75% water so when you’re not properly hydrated you can feel drained and fatigued. It is also reported to fire up your metabolism by 24% for 90 minutes and help your body to flush out toxins.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has warm drinks like a hot water or herbal tea.