Written By: Emily Spring
Not all productive morning routines require you to get out of bed and jog around the block before the sun’s even risen. In fact, if that sounds like pure misery to you, it’s the exact opposite of a productive morning routine. Rather, if you want to set yourself up for a successful, joy-filled day, consider making small, simple changes to your morning schedule.
Here are the top five methods for creating a morning routine to make you happy, productive, and energized for the day ahead.
#1 Prep For Your Morning The Night Before
It may sound counterintuitive, but setting yourself up for a sunny AM disposition starts with paving the way for a solid night’s rest.
You can ramp up your sleep hygiene by:
Setting a screen curfew – Several studies have shown that “blue light,” a wavelength that’s emitted by the screens of our devices, can be tremendously damaging to sleep. Using your phone before (or during) bedtime has been linked to delayed sleep onset, diminished sleep duration, and overall poorer quality of rest.1 Do your best to unplug at least 1 hour before bed, so your mind has an easier time quieting down.2
Establishing a nighttime routine – The only thing better than creating a morning habit may be creating a regimen to wind down with as well. To start, do your best to tuck in around the same time each night, which can help regulate your circadian rhythms. Bedtime rituals—whether a cup of passionflower tea or a 15-minute stretch in bed—can help signal to your body that it’s time to settle in for the night.
Trying calming herbs – If you have difficulty easing into a restful state, remember that people have been leaning on plant allies to help bring on the sleepies for eons. From herbal teas to mushroom gummy supplements, look for supports formulated with calming ingredients like reishi mushroom and saffron, which are both known to help you unwind (even with a restless mind).3 Learn more about saffron benefits and the additional health benefits to boost your mood and manage your appetite!
Making your bedroom a sleep haven – Anyone who’s ever lived in a city knows that it can be immeasurably harder to fall (and stay) asleep with bright lights and loud sounds pouring into your room. Do your best to make your bedroom an oasis of Zs, whether with blackout curtains, earplugs, or investing in an irresistible set of fluffy pillows.
Prep for your morning – It’s happened to all of us: You lay down to sleep and find your mind racing with dozens of to-do lists and worries about tomorrow. To combat next-day anxiety, try completing two small tasks to set you up for success the next day. Simple actions—like pre-making your lunch, or even jotting down your to-do list—gestures to your mind that it’ll all be taken care of. For now, it’s only priority is to relax.
#2 Learn How to Hack Your Energy
Even after an invigorating night’s rest, there are several behaviors that may be behind zapping our energy reserves first thing in the morning. These include:
Reaching immediately for your phone – Although it may be difficult, resist the urge to scroll, answer texts, or catch up on emails first thing after you wake up. According to psychologists, these actions are considered “cognitively expensive” to partake in first thing in the morning.4 Moreover, it tends to start off your day with a “reactive” mindset, rather than beginning from a “proactive” state of mind.4
Drinking coffee first (and water later) – There’s a chance that the grogginess you feel after waking up isn’t tiredness at all, but rather dehydration./sup> While it’s tempting to head straight for that coffee or matcha latte, try starting your morning with a tall glass of water instead.
Not making time for movement – When our bodies feel stiff, our mind tends to lag as well. Whether it’s as a brief yoga-inspired stretch or a 30-second stint of torso twists, you may find that a little movement first thing may wake you up even faster than your strongest, meanest cup of coffee.
If you’re still having trouble gearing up for the day ahead, you might try waking yourself up with a cold shower. Studies indicate that a cold rinse kicks the sympathetic nervous system into gear, which may also serve to uplift mood.6
That said, if entering an ice-cold dunk tank sounds a little too intense for your morning routine, a splash of cold water to the face might do the trick, too.
#3 Dial In Some Natural Sunlight
Many people will wake up and make a morning habit of endlessly scrolling on their phones, creating a struggle to get out of bed in the morning. If that sounds like you, natural cues can help you find that intrinsic energy—and one of the most important ones is sunlight.
Whether you start your day by opening your curtains or taking a quick stroll around the block, aim to get some sunlight within the first 30 minutes of waking up. This method may be especially effective for those who naturally tend to lack energy in the morning, but gain it at night.7
#4 Balance Out Your Breakfast
There’s a world of difference between starting your day with a formidable hit of glucose (like a stack of thick pancakes doused in maple syrup) and a steady, sustainable stream of energy (like stewed apples and oatmeal).
Yes, everyone’s food preferences, diets, and restrictions are different. But for most people, starting your early morning on a healthy note means prioritizing the following at breakfast time:
Fiber, which promotes digestion and helps keep you full until your next meal
Healthy fats, which can help keep blood sugar even-keeled throughout the day8
Protein, which encourages your brain to produce tyrosine, enabling you to feel more awake9
Plant-based supplements can also be an excellent way to round out your healthy breakfast, support digestion, and lend a hand in keeping your mood elevated throughout the day. Studies show that leaning on fungi friends like lion’s mane can help support cognitive function, a lifted mood, and a steady source of energy for the rest of the day.10 You can also soup up your morning coffee with products like SunsUp Mushroom Coffee Mix for a non-jittery boost of energy.
A healthy breakfast will help your body maintain even blood sugar levels throughout the day, making you less likely to experience that dreaded late-afternoon slump.11
#5 Tailor Your Daily Routine to You
In an ideal version of your life, you may envision yourself as a person who wakes up, meditates, exercises, then fries up an egg white-only omelet each and every day. But if what actually makes you feel good is a quick stretch, a bowl of cereal, and a conversation with a loved one, go with that.
The morning routine that makes you happy is the one that works for you. Take a moment to make a list of the little things that put a spring in your step by asking:
- If you’re an anxious person, perhaps meditation is the best way to start your morning.
- If you’re cerebral, maybe it will do you best to read or journal.
- High-energy people should get out and exercise.
- And chefs (professional and wanna-bes) should head to their kitchen first thing in the morning
If you’re looking for morning routine inspiration, try doing a little research on some of your favorite cultural figures to see how they started their days. The process of experimentation is crucial for getting to know your needs—so, if you try waking up at 4am like Haruki Murakami and it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ll know yourself that much better.12
Why Are Morning Routines Important?
Each morning, we wake up with what psychologists consider a full tank of decision-making gas. If we spend that decision-making energy and willpower on superfluous activities, we waste the best of ourselves on decisions that don’t bring much long-term value to our lives. When we start with the meatiest, most complex, and most challenging tasks on our to-do list, we typically find we’re more productive in accomplishing our goals and focus at work much better.
Psychiatrist Dr. Lisa MacLean calls this phenomenon decision fatigue, or “the idea that after making many decisions, your ability to make more and more decisions over the course of a day becomes worse. The more decisions you have to make, the more fatigue you develop and the more difficult it can become.”13
In the morning, some typical kinds of low-level decisions include:
- What to eat for breakfast
- What to wear to work
- What to bring in our day bag
- Whether or not to go to the gym
Building a morning ritual helps save precious brain power by letting us save our decision-making fuel for things like writing the next chapter of a novel, or prepping for a big client meeting.
Become an AM and a PM Person with Plant People
The first step to a successful daily morning routine is a successful night’s sleep. That way, when you wake up, you’ll have more energy and motivation to stick to your new morning habits.
Implementing mushroom-based products like WonderSleep Mushroom Gummies and WonderDay Mushroom Gummies into your routine can help your mind and body perform at their peak, day and night.
Remember that it takes 21 days to cement any new habit, so don’t be hard on yourself if it’s difficult to set a new morning routine. Focus on making small changes one day at a time. After a month or so, you may find yourself surprised to be a person who goes to bed, already looking forward to tomorrow morning.
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.
- National Institute of Health. The influence of blue light on sleep, performance and wellbeing in young adults: A systematic review. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36051910/
- Cleveland Clinic. Why You Should Ditch Your Phone Before Bed. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/
- National Library of Medicine. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) an edible mushroom; a comprehensive and critical review of its nutritional, cosmeceutical, mycochemical, pharmacological, clinical, and toxicological properties. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34411377/
- Harvard Business Review. Your Brain’s Ideal Sleep Schedule. https://hbr.org/podcast/2015/03/your-brains-ideal-schedule.html
- Healthline. 13 Fatigue-Fighting Hacks to Supercharge Your Mornings. https://www.healthline.com/health/morning-fatigue-remedies#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
- National Institute of Health. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17993252/
- British Council. Can sunshine help you sleep better and wake up earlier? https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/can-sunshine-help-you-sleep-better-and-wake-earlier
- The San Francisco Gate. When Should Bodybuilders Eat Healthy Fats During the Day? https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/should-bodybuilders-eat-healthy-fats-during-day-9507.html
- The San Francisco Gate. What Are the Benefits of Lots of Protein in the Morning? https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-lots-protein-morning-3574.html
- National Library of Medicine. Chemistry, Nutrition, and Health-Promoting Properties of Hericium erinaceus (Lion's Mane) Mushroom Fruiting Bodies and Mycelia and Their Bioactive Compounds. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26244378/
- National Alliance on Mental Health. The Power of a Morning Routine. https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/august-2017/the-power-of-a-morning-routine
- The Marginalian. The Daily Routines of Great Writers. https://www.themarginalian.org/2012/11/20/daily-routines-writers/
- American Medical Association. What doctors wish patients knew about decision fatigue. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/what-doctors-wish-patients-knew-about-decision-fatigue
- Northwestern Medicine. Health Benefits of Having a Routine. https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/health-benefits-of-having-a-routine
Daily Routines. Daily Habits of the Most Productive Leaders. https://topdailyroutines.com/