Rush hour doesn't only happen on the highways. It's actually the time when you struggle to separate yourself from your mattress, then try to cram in a workout, a shower, some breakfast, the headlines, and never-ending questions from a fashion-challenged husband. In 42 minutes. No one says mornings are easy, but with the right approaches, you can bring your A.M. launch from rocket speed down to your speed.
If you have kids...
Cartoons, Cocoa Puffs, and a few "No PlayStation!" threats only go so far in getting your family going. Instead of barking out orders, roll out of your bed and into your kid's. "Kids dawdle in the morning, because they realize that they will not see their parents until the end of the day," says Aletha Solter, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and author ofHelping Young Children Flourish. "When children get some undivided 'Mommy-time' in the morning, even if it's only 10 minutes, they're much more likely to cooperate." Do that and your child will be more inclined to get dressed, eat breakfast, and follow directions, Dr. Solter says.
If you need to walk your dog...
Begging Rover to squat won't get you into the shower any sooner. To speed up his digestion process, turn your sleepy schlep into a light 5-minute jog. Several studies have shown that not only will it boost your energy, but it acts as a great poo-motivator for your dog. Afterward, walk around the block for 5 to 10 minutes. "Dogs can learn to hold their bowel movements because that means they'll get to walk outside longer," says Andrew Luescher, D.V.M., Ph.D., director at the Animal Behavior Clinic at Purdue University. "Taking them home right away is like punishing them for going to the bathroom." In the long run, she'll take care of her business faster, so you can do the same.
If he gets up early and you don't...
He's up at 6, you're up at 7, but you worm around for the hour in between. Instead of banishing him to the living room, test your mattress. If yours shakes like a music-video dancer every time you move, consider investing in one that conforms to your shape while remaining firm in other areas, says Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., director of the Northside Hospital Sleep Disorders Center in Atlanta. That will decrease the chance of you feeling him get out of bed. (Dr. Rosenberg suggests a Swedish Tempur-Pedic mattress.) "If you don't get angry or feel the pressure to get up, hopefully it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to reinitiate sleep," Dr. Rosenberg says.
If you slept horribly last night...
Exercise, caffeine, alcohol, or heavy meals up to 3 hours before bedtime are all sleep-stoppers. If you're sleep-deprived in the morning, eat oatmeal. "There's research that shows that people who have high-fiber, low-fat breakfasts have more energy, are more alert, and eat less until the next meal," says Debra Wein, R.D., a Boston nutritionist. You also may want to consider exercising in the morning. One study found that morning exercisers averaged 70 percent better sleep than evening exercisers, who may be disrupting their sleep-wake cycle by stirring up energy too close to bedtime. (If you can't face the thought of morning squats, make sure to exercise 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed.)
If you exercise...
The best way to resist 20 more minutes of sack time is to rouse yourself from bed and touch your toes. "Doing an exercise in which you bend your head down helps bring blood to your brain and wakes you up," says Anne Kent Rush, author ofThe Way of Stretching. Then eat a banana or an orange; your body needs the carbs before exercise. "A piece of fruit has simple sugars and complex carbs, both of which will be digested quickly and boost your energy level," Wein says. Add a cup of coffee: A University of Georgia study found that the caffeine can reduce muscle pain by 25 percent, since caffeine may block the nerve receptors that transmit pain.
If you have a 1-hour commute...
Driving gives you plenty of time — to dread afternoon meetings and stew about the fact that your to-do list is longer than Bo Bice's hair. So keep a cinnamon air freshener in your car. People who inhaled cinnamon or peppermint while driving saw a 20 percent decrease in anxiety, 15 percent decrease in fatigue, 25 percent decrease in frustration, and 30 percent increase in alertness, according to a recent study from Wheeling Jesuit University. "These scents stimulate the area of the brain responsible for alertness, called the reticular activating system," says Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D., study author. "This is the part of the brain that makes us fall asleep when we're tired and wakes us up in the morning." Sucking on peppermints or chewing Big Red alone doesn't cut it; the nasal passageway is the quickest route to the brain.
If you're trying to wean yourself off caffeine...
You can cut back on withdrawal headaches as well as those teeth-whitening bills if you switch to tea. Most teas will still have plenty of what you're looking for — nearly 50 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. Or try a tea with peppermint (to boost energy) and chamomile (to calm nerves), says Kellye Davis, author ofThe Bliss Principle. Also tap into the world's most powerful energy source: the sun. Natural light exposure first thing in the morning will help reset your internal clock, making it much easier to wake up, says Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Georgia. Take a 10-minute walk when you get up or eat breakfast on the porch. In the case of overcast skies or winter darkness, get dressed in the brightest room in your house. Although artificial light is less effective, it will still help recharge your batteries.
Video: 2018 5AM Morning Routine | FALL EDITION | Productive & Healthy | RENEE AMBERG
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