8 Easy Things You Should Do Before 8 a.m., According to a Dietitian
Even if you don't think you're a morning person, these habits can help you start your day on the right foot.
I have two toddler boys, which means my day starts pretty early (if Paxton could stop waking up at 5 a.m., that would be nice). Sometimes it feels like I've lived an entire day before 8 a.m., between the diaper changes and getting two little people dressed, fed and ready for school. Even with those slightly hectic parenting tasks mixed in, I love mornings. I've always been a morning person-there is something to be said for starting your day on the right foot and crushing your productivity game before most people are awake (here are some tips for becoming a morning person). My morning routine has changed over the years, but I've always tried to keep a few healthy pieces in my lineup. Here are 8 things I aim to do every day before 8 a.m. to help kick off my day with a good mindset and a healthy head start.
1. Skip the snooze button
Currently, my youngest is my alarm, but I am not a fan of the snooze button. Those last little bits of sleep aren't restorative, per the National Sleep Foundation and can actually leave you feeling groggier. They also recommend trying an alarm with a sunrise feature, like the Hatch Restore ($129.99, target.com), which can wake you up with a gentle light that gets brighter and also noise, that isn't the typical jarring alarm sound. I rely heavily on the white noise from my Hatch to help me sleep, but haven't yet gotten a chance to test the alarm feature (one day).
2. Drink water
I sleep with a water bottle on my nightstand. I've spilled too many glasses and my water bottle keeps the water cooler and helps me drink up (Hydroflask 32-oz water bottle, $49.99 on hydroflask.com). I know lemon water gets all the hype, but plain old regular water is a fantastic beverage. I don't have rules about how much, but I usually wake up thirsty and having my water bottle next to my bed helps me drink first thing. Water is important for so many things in our body and sipping water first thing can help you stay hydrated (especially if you're have trouble remembering to drink water throughout the day).
Related: 5 Hydration Myths-Fact or Fiction
Inspired by my dog, who starts every day with a minute or two of big stretches, I like to do a few minutes of gentle stretching to wake up my body. I'm not immediately launching into an hour-long yoga class (although, that sounds lovely). I always do a few side stretches and sometimes add in some twists or gentle cat-cow stretches.
4. Sip coffee
Did you know that you actually should delay having coffee until a bit after you wake up? I learned this tip from a sleep expert (here's more of his expert insights to help you sleep). Your body is naturally waking up and you'll feel the caffeine more if you delay it a bit. However, I usually drink my coffee a couple hours after I wake up. Pro tip: I'm actually able to sip it slowly and keep it hot by using an insulated mug with a lid. (I'm partial to my Yeti Tumbler with Lid, $24.99 on yeti.com when I'm home, and my Hydroflask Coffee with Flex Lid, $32.95 on hydroflask.com, for when I'm taking my coffee to go.)
This is another one of those perks of having a dog. She needs a walk around the block, so we both get a walk around the block. It's just a short walk (and if we're being honest, it sometimes doesn't happen before 8 a.m. because school drop off takes priority), but there are so many benefits to walking and getting some time outside. I've stopped bringing my phone with me, (you shouldn't be hunched over looking at it anyway), and it's a great way to get a little movement and clear my head. (Here are 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Form When You Walk.) Even if you don't have a dog, try taking a quick stroll before you start your day.
6. Eat breakfast
I know intermittent fasting is becoming more and more popular, but breakfast is still my favorite meal of the day. My go-to breakfast is peanut-butter toast with banana. I like starting my day with some protein, healthy fat and fiber. It helps give me energy to last through the morning and fuel for the day. Plenty of breakfasts can be made in a few minutes. See our list of healthy breakfast foods and 10-minute breakfasts for inspiration.
7. Get dressed
This one wasn't always on my to-do list, but if you've been spending more time at home lately it may be one yours, too. I find that when I stay in my pajamas, I'm more likely to feel blah. Getting dressed helps me transition from sleeping to getting stuff done. And when I am staying at home, that might just mean changing from my sleep sweatpants to my slightly-fancier work sweatpants (um, hello comfort is key). Getting dressed in workout clothes also makes me more likely to get a workout in, so I spend a lot of time in Athleta, who's clothes feel professional enough for video meetings and also perfect for running or bootcamps.
8. Brush and floss
I said they were easy! I'm assuming you all are brushing your teeth in the morning. But 31% of people say they never floss, and another third only floss a few times a week rather than daily, according to research. I'm not a dentist, but they all recommend brushing and flosing. Flossing and oral care is actually important for your overall health-not just your teeth. Your GI-tract starts in your mouth and research has linked good oral care to heart health.
If you're not a morning person (yet!) think about one or two things you could do to start your day off better. Maybe it's put down your phone and do a quick stretch. Or adding a water bottle to your nightstand to kickstart your hydration for the day. I would have loved to add working out to this list, because morning workouts are my favorite, but they haven't been happening lately. If you can get an early workout in though, good for you. It's worth noting that some things I know need to happen the night before (setting the coffee pot, packing lunches, etc.) in order to have a more streamlined morning.
Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.