Mornings are not my thing. They usually consist of six alarms set back to back, which I sleep through, followed by getting ready in a panic and rushing so that I can get to work on time. It is not ideal and not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. I end up drinking coffee on an empty stomach and most often eat nothing until lunch time. Today I want to explore the ways in which a lack of structure in meals affects our health and ways to improve an irregular morning routine.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
Breakfast is often called ‘the most important meal of the day’ and for good reason. As the name suggests, this meal breaks the overnights fasting period, replenishing glucose in order to boost your energy levels, also providing essential nutrients to the body. Simply eating any foods for breakfast is not ideal. Aim for a healthy meal full of nutrients and vitamins.
Overnight, the liver breaks down glycogen and releases it into your bloodstream as glucose to keep your blood sugar levels stable. In the morning, your glycogen stores are low. They need to be replenished in order to increase energy.
The brain relies almost entirely on glucose for energy. Without a replenishment in the morning, you may find yourself feeling sluggish and struggling with focus. Studies suggest that not having breakfast affects your mental performance, including your attention, ability to concentrate and memory.
BREAKFAST HELPS CONTROL WEIGHT
The most common reason for people skipping breakfast is an attempt to lose weight. Breakfast, however should be the one meal you do not skip. Breakfast helps boost your metabolism and gets it ready for the day ahead. Having a high metabolism means your body burns energy from food at a faster rate, decreasing the amount of fat retained. It is still very important that you eat a well balanced diet though, as starting the day with a big hit of sugar will achieve the opposite, causing your system to retain a higher amount of fat. A protein rich food such as eggs is best for starting the day off.
BECOMING A MORNING PERSON
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I’m perfect and have my mornings down pat. There are still days when I don’t succeed and breakfast is not a priority and I run around like a headless chicken, however an improvement is a start and it is better than not trying at all. Here are some habits I have implemented that have truly helped me improve my mornings.
WORK ON YOUR SLEEPING PATTERN
If you’re like me, you are very familiar with the innate ability to stay up very late at night without even meaning to, while mornings are always a struggle. What I have found really helps is a very strict bedtime schedule. Even though I can stay up very late without feeling any sleepiness, I have committed to always being in bed by 11pm. If you do not feel tired at at night, being in bed and staying away from technology and blue light is much more conducive to sleep than the alternative.
BANISH THE SNOOZE BUTTON
Getting the right amount of sleep is key for making mornings less difficult. While I used to have six alarms I didn’t even hear causing me to sleep in, getting a good amount of sleep helps me get up earlier, allowing some time for breakfast. When your alarm goes off, it interrupts the REM cycle, and the repeated intrusions from constantly snoozing your alarms every 10 minutes only ensure that your body’s natural rhythm is off. So get the right amount of sleep and stop snoozing.
START YOUR DAY WITH A GLASS OF WATER
After a whole nights sleep with no hydration, priming your system with a glass of water is very important. Having a cup of coffee before any water will only further dehydrate your body making you feel hyper but sluggish.
PREPARE FOR THE DAY
Taking some time the previous night to prepare for the following day is a real game changer. If you find yourself running around in the mornings trying to find all the things you need for the day while stressing that you’re already running late, take some time the previous night to organise your belongings, setting them all in one spot, easy to grab in the morning. It will limit the amount of stress you experience in the mornings, helping you start the day in a positive mindset.