Picture your ideal morning. Take a breath. Now ask yourself how far away are you from starting your day as you would like? Not just today but most days. What would need to change for you to start your day right?
Despite what night owls may think, the real party happens in the morning. The yogis have known this for eons. There’s a window of time just before dawn which is the most peaceful and easeful time in the whole 24 hour day. Those of you who wake early feeling clear headed and inspired will know how it feels. Those of you who don’t, I’m going to do my best to persuade you not to go back to sleep.
Despite having a solid 8 hours sleep, if you’re waking feeling heavy, sluggish and struggle with stable energy throughout your day (without the use of caffeine or sugar), then this may be something you want to explore.
This grace-filled window before dawn is considered by yogis to be an auspicious time. It’s a time where your body is most awake and the neuroplasticity of your mind is greatest – meaning you get to shape and mold your brain however you like. Insight, inspiration and creative downloads are aplenty if you’re awake to receive them. It’s also the most potent time to write, meditate and set your intentions.
Most of us are plugged into screens after dinner. Playing catchup on tasks we didn’t cross off in our day, surfing social media or watching Netflix until the wee hours. Late nights are overrated. They also sabotage the chance of starting your day clear headed and energised. Early morning is a more productive time to catch up than late at night.
We humans are diurnal creatures, meaning we thrive during the daylight hours. Our bodies are naturally synchronised to go to bed shortly after dark, and rise shortly before the sun. If you needed further convincing, three US scientists won the Nobel Prize in 2017 for their discoveries of our own body clock, our circadian rhythm. These Nobelists were able to demonstrate how humans, along with their plant and animal friends, adapt their bodily rhythms to synchronise with the 24 hour night/day cycle in order to thrive in daily life. This field of research is known as chronobiology which is the study of circadian biology. What’s also fascinating is that alzheimers, depression, ADHD, heart disease, obesity and diabetes and other metabolic issues are among many conditions being linked to circadian rhythms being out of whack. More and more research is now showing that when we maintain a more regular schedule - including waking, eating and sleeping at the same times - it contributes to a long and healthy life.
Rising with the sun, breathing deep and moving your body intentionally starts your day on the right foot. Rushing out of bed (late), negative thoughts, diving onto your phone or watching TV first thing leads to dis-ease and degeneration. When you rise with the sun you begin to tap into a bigger perspective, you fill your tank before filling others and you step into peace and ease which you then carry throughout your day. It’s self-care 101.
Get your day off to the right start with these small steps. Notice how your body feels and how your day flows:
Find your reason for waking up early.
Waking early improves health, sleep, productivity and stabilises emotions. Because you’ve read that’s its good for you is not enough. You need to connect with your Why. I love waking early because it’s time reserved just for me. No tending to others. I get to contemplate, see my life in a bigger context and simply appreciate being alive. It puts calm in my back pocket and I carry this throughout my day. What’s your reason?
Finish dinner early.
It takes 3 hours to digest an evening meal and you want this process well underway before your head hits the pillow. You’re moving up river with starting your day right if your dinner is late.
Create a before bed wind-down routine.
The act of sleeping on its own isn’t relaxing. You first need to relax the body and mind to allow the body to feel into its fatigue – making sleep deeper and more restful.
Land yourself in bed by 10pm (most nights).
Take a look at your bedtime. If you’re going to bed late every night you won’t be able to wake up earlier and feel good. Start to enjoy quieter evenings with an early bedtime. If you wake up tired, keep pushing your bedtime earlier.
Set an intention rather than an alarm.
Before you go to sleep, visualise what your ideal morning looks like. What else can you do the night before to help make this happen? And if an intention feels too stretched, set the alarm on your phone the night before. Put the alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
Wake up before 6am to feel energised.
To stay in sync with nature it's best to wake up before sunrise, when there is natural movement in the atmosphere. Waking up before sunrise is like catching a wave. It will ensure you ride through the rest of the day effortlessly. Upon waking with the sun you want to wake up your body and breathe deep. This helps to energise every cell of your body. Starting your day feeling energised and awake, lifts your mood and enables you to make better, smarter, choices throughout the day. Schedule your favorite things for the morning. This could be going for a walk, jog, journaling, practicing yoga, or simply sitting in silence. You'll feel like a million bucks.
Reward yourself in the morning.
After a while waking early becomes the reward itself. Until it does, you want to identify something you already enjoy doing in the morning (coffee, breakfast, reading the paper, seeing your loved ones) and use this as a reward for waking and moving your body first thing. Nourish and reward yourself before you nourish others.
I know this is easier said than done, it takes time so ease into it slowly. There’s a saying “Lose an hour in the morning and you’ll spend all day looking for it.” I can confidently say that waking with the sun will lead to many other positive changes in your life. Start by trying this for a week - you'll never want to go back to hurrying your way out the door in the morning again.