1) Don’t be a night owl
Every night we all do something extraordinary. We become unconscious and paralysed which, on the face of it, is a very dangerous thing to do and left our ancestors vulnerable to attack by predators – so why is sleep so vital? New research has revealed some remarkable functions of sleep, with more still being found. During the day we all experience the world, and these experiences build physical connections between brain cells. When we sleep these connections are filtered, important connections are strengthened and unimportant ones are removed. A really interesting new piece of research led by Prof Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester has demonstrated that the brain has a network of fluid filled channels, and that while we sleep fluid passes through these channels to wash away waste chemicals and toxins. She says “You can think of it like having a house party. You can either entertain the guests or clean up the house, but you can’t really do both at the same time”. Getting enough sleep is key to having energy the next day. According to the National Institute of Sleep, adults need around 7-9 hours of sleep – so get an early night!
2) Do Not Hit Snooze
Guiltily drifting in and out of sleep in the morning is one of life’s great pleasures – but there are really good reasons not to! Snoozing feels great for a really good scientific reason. When we sleep our body temperature drops and around two hours before you wake up your core temperature comes back to normal. If you’re not getting enough sleep, when your alarm goes off you’re still cold so your cozy bed seems even more attractive. Snoozing is bad for two reasons: The body needs to prepare to wake up. If you go back to sleep, your body has a “false alarm” response so when you hear the alarm again your brain doesn’t know whether to trigger the wake up or sleep response, leaving you feeling groggy and fuzzy headed. Amazingly, this feeling has been shown to last for up to four hours! Experts now recommend that you set your alarm for the time you actually need to get up, get up at the same time every day, and never hit that snooze button!
3) Morning Exercise is an amazing way to stay healthy and lose weight
With our hectic lives it can be really tricky to find time to exercise, even though we know we should. The key to getting fit is to move your body as much as you can, as often as you can. By starting the morning with physical activity you really set the pace for the day. The chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise says that “Morning exercisers tend to stuck with their exercise habit…by doing the bulk of exercise first thing in the morning, you get your exercise in before other distractions can intrude. We can all relate to that – because once the day gets going, it’s hard to get off the treadmill called life.” Amen to that!
Staying hydrated is really important. While tea and coffee in the morning are tempting because the caffeine helps us to feel alert, water is still the best and quickest way to hydrate. Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning can really help you in a number of ways. Water can help to reduce stomach acidity, by diluting the acid in your stomach. It can also help prevent constipation, and drinking water first thing kickstarts the digestive system, stimulating the rhythmic gut movements that push food through your intestine and colon.
We’re always being told to eat less and lose weight, and it’s really tempting to skip breakfast to reduce the number of calories we get through in a day – especially if you’re still feeling groggy from waking up. There’s no evidence that having breakfast or skipping it makes any difference to weight gain, but thinking beyond weight loss there are some great benefits of eating when you wake up. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to eat less and eat more healthily for the rest of the day, as well as having more energy. Breakfast helps to kick start your metabolism, and people that eat breakfast are more physically active in the mornings than those who skip it. Importantly, eating breakfast might help the body to regulate blood glucose, which is great for those with type 2 diabetes.