Morning Routines

Are you often sleepy and ineffective in the morning? Do you feel like you are using only a part of your brain capacity halfway through the day? Certain morning activities have been shown to reduce sleep inertia and drowsiness. These morning routines can help boost your day from the start. This lesson offers tips and hints for active and energetic mornings. Remember, however, that nothing can make up for a good night's sleep.

1. Don't snooze

2. Get some of that sunlight

Bright light suppresses melatonin production and increases cortisol hormone levels in the bloodstream. Morning light also enhances the natural alertness peak evoked by your circadian rhythm. If available sunlight is insufficient, try using a bright light lamp.

3. Engage in physical activity within an hour from awakening

Engaging in physical activity has been shown to promote wakefulness and reduce drowsy feeling. Do not raise the bar too high, though: brisk morning runs are not for everyone. A short walk around the block or doing some housework might be enough for you. Don't spend the whole morning sitting and reading the newspaper.

4. Wash up using cold water

A cool shower or washing your face with cold water increases blood flow and leaves you with a refreshing feeling.

5. Listen to music

Listening to uptempo music first thing in the morning gives you a nice boost of energy and increases your wakefulness.

6. Have a conversation with someone

Talk to your partner or call a friend. Social interaction makes you less sleepy.

7. Turn to caffeine

If nothing else helps, a cup of coffee can save the day. Caffeine temporarily blocks the accumulation of adenosine (sleep pressure) in the brain and increases alertness. This should, however, be your last resort. Tolerance to caffeine increases rapidly, and it is easy to become addicted to. A cup of coffee every now and then might give you that precious boost of activity, but as a long-term solution, caffeine can prove treacherous.

Habits From This Lesson

Additional Reading

Hilditch, C. J., Dorrian, J., & Banks, S. (2016). Time to wake up: Reactive countermeasures to sleep inertia. Industrial Health, 54(6), 528–541.

Kaplan, K. A., Talavera, D. C., & Harvey, A. G. (2018). Rise and shine: A treatment experiment testing a morning routine to decrease  subjective sleep inertia in insomnia and bipolar disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 111.

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