Audio Blog, 4:54
What you do after rising from sleep is very important in setting the tone for the rest of the day.
Harvard University researchers found that overall energy metabolism is 10% lower during sleep. They believe that when you are sleeping, your body rests, while your mind consolidates thoughts and makes subconscious decisions. The brain does consume extra energy during REM sleep, but it is more than balanced out by the reduced energy used by the skeletal muscles paralyzed during REM.
When you wake up, the body is refreshed, and the mind is prepared to learn and consume new material.
So, your actions and thoughts immediately upon arising will often set the tone for the entire day, whether it is positive or negative. All of us have started the day “on the wrong foot”, and seem to struggle with elementary tasks and thoughts. On the other hand, we know what it feels like to wake up in a fantastic mood, with all things just falling into place smoothly as we proceed through the day.
Assuming we get the optimal amount, and quality of sleep, what can we do in the first five minutes after waking up to set an outstanding tone for the day?
When the alarm goes off, get out of bed and immediately accomplish a very simple, physical exercise. Right there. No need to change out of the PJs, take a shower, or get your coffee first. Just do it.
Don’t believe me? Try it tomorrow morning.
I prefer push-ups, even a small amount, maybe 10. Other exercises will work just as well: 10 sit-ups, 2-minute stretch routine, 5 minutes of meditation, etc.
If necessary, Google “five minute work-outs” to get a few ideas, but just make sure the exercise is not so difficult that it discourages you from developing the discipline to do this simple habit.
Although I enjoy a full work-out later in the day, the purpose of this action is not for fitness, but to create a habit of establishing positive momentum that will carry on throughout the day. Take an easy, early victory, and start the day with a sense of accomplishment.
Just try it for ten days. If you miss a day, reset the time period until you have completed 10 days straight.
Additionally, I recommend the following in the first couple of hours after arising.
Feed your brain with something constructive
My commute to work takes about one hour. During that time, I am very protective of my thoughts. I like to think of the brain as a garden, in that you can plant productive seeds that result in growth, or you can allow weeds to take hold. Either way, something is going to grow.
For context I will share my personal routine, but of course you have to set your own routine based on your interests. In the early morning during my preparation and commute, usually from 5:15 – 7:15AM, I do not listen to the news or watch TV. Why? Listening to the somber news is the quickest way to start the day feeling down!
I prefer to listen to audio books that are educational or inspirational. If I listen to music, it is not the type I would listen to when preparing for a football game, or a night out on the town. I prefer classical or soothing background music to set the right mood to seize the intellectual development opportunity that sleep has provided me.
My recommendation is to put the smart phone down during this time period. Before I get into the car, I check my phone once, to make sure that no important messages have been left overnight. Unless necessary, I do not text, e-mail or make phone calls. Why?
I believe it sets a terrible tone for the day, because it means that you are already in the reactionary mode. Moreover, you likely will be dealing with (social) information that may not develop your brain and set the direction for the day.
Regardless of your routine, it should include:
- A simple but immediate physical accomplishment.
- A thoughtful use of your mental capacity during the human mind’s most fertile time period.
- A reluctance to get caught up in exchange of irrelevant texting information.