Morning Person

Written by Mikaila Kukurudza

Night Owls, listen up:

According to a recent study by the University of Delaware, there are strong links between early bedtimes and healthy behaviour. Research shows that abandoning your late night habits can lead to better food choices and since you’ll be less likely to skip your workout if you’re well-rested, improve your cardiovascular health. But becoming a morning person won’t happen overnight. So for next four weeks, incorporate these small, simple changes into your routine. In one month, you’ll have more energy, better workouts, and less desire to hit the snooze button.

Week 1: Turn off all screens 30 minutes before bed.

We know it’s tough, but unplugging at night is crucial to quality sleep. According to a study by Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, screentime can delay your body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that tells your body when you need sleep. If you mess with the melatonin signal, you’re messing with your body’s ability to get the sleep it needs.

Extra credit: If you use your phone as your alarm (which according to a survey, 44 percent of us do), switch to an old fashioned alarm clock and move your cell out of the bedroom entirely. That way you won’t be tempted to send a few final texts, and you’ll also avoid blue light emitted from phones that can disrupt your natural sleep rhythms.

Week 2: Prep before bed.

Make your mornings less manic by being prepared. Before hitting the hay, lay out your work clothes (iron them if necessary) and set your gym bag by the door so you don’t forget it. You’ll sleep better knowing you’re ahead of the game and can even snooze a few minutes longer.

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Extra credit: Prep your lunch each night. A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who spent more time on food preparation had healthier diets with higher vegetable and fruit intake than those who spent less time prepping food.

Week 3: Cut caffeine by 3 p.m.

You may live for that late afternoon coffee run, but it’s not doing you any favors in the sleep department. A study conducted by The Journal of Clinical Sleep and Medicine suggests drinking coffee even as long as 6 hours before bed can disturb your sleep quality.

Extra credit: Have one coffee in the morning, then switch to a loose leaf green tea for the rest of the day. A 2014 study in the journal Psychopharmacology discovered a link between green tea and improved cognitive function, particularly working memory. Just remember, there are still trace amounts caffeine in the green stuff so stop sipping by 3 p.m.

Week 4: Read for six minutes.

You’re almost there! This week, you’ll be adding a few minutes of reading to your bedtime routine — and we mean off-screen of course; tablets and computers are still off limits. Instead, pick up the day’s paper, a favorite magazine or a good book and settle in. According to a study by Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, just six minutes of reading before bed can reduce your stress levels by 68 per cent leading to a better quality sleep, and faster.

Extra credit: Braindump in a journal. If you tend to stare at ceiling after lights out, writing down your thoughts before bed can help ease your mind. Research shows journaling for 15 minutes each night significantly reduces stress and worry that can keep you awake and improves sleep time and quality. What’s more, journaling specifically about positive experiences can help put you in a happier state of mind. Sweet dreams!