Most people know that the key to having a productive day starts with mastering their morning routine. Countless articles have been written on how the most successful people spend their mornings and why everyone else should follow in their footsteps.
From getting up early enough for a meditation session at dawn, to developing the self-discipline needed for avoiding email first thing, most of us have some idea of what our perfect morning might look like. But like most goals, it’s easier to dream about it and maybe try it once rather than make it a habit.
Night owls in particular will struggle more than early birds if they try to pack a lot of important things to do into their morning schedules. And despite all the advice floating around out there on the web about accomplishing so much in the morning, the reality is that some people’s circadian rhythms just don’t allow them to perform at their best in the early hours.
If you have a hard time giving it your all during a work out at 6:00 a.m. but you know you feel strongest when you hit the gym around 5 p.m., then you’re probably better off listening to your body. Here are just seven healthy habits you can do in the morning if you want, at night or even both!
1. Get active.
It might make a lot of sense to get your workout done early in the day not only to give you more energy, but also to make sure it remains a priority that has to get done, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shift it to later on in the day if you know it would work better for you. The belief that working out late at night will keep you awake is actually a myth. One study found that people who did strength training at night experienced a longer and better quality night’s sleep compared to people who did the same workout in the morning.
2. Eat something healthy.
People who watch their food intake know that eating anything after dinner is regarded as a bad idea. While it certainly is better to consume most of your calories early on in the day for energy and to promote healthy weight loss or weight maintenance, eating a light snack before bedtime can actually help you sleep. According to WebMD, carbohydrate-rich foods increase your level of tryptopha—an amino acid that can make you drowsy.
3. Drink water.
Drinking a tall glass of water in the morning is a great way to replenish your body after going hours without any of it, but doing the same at night has benefits, too. Your hormones, muscles and energy will be better balanced when they’re well hydrated. The big trick, of course, is figuring how much you can drink and how close to bedtime you can drink it to avoid being woken up later for a bathroom break.
Meditation is often regarded as a good morning habit because it helps people get intentional about their day so they can avoid being in a reactive, distracted state all day long. But for those who struggle to fall asleep due to an overactive mind at night, meditation may be a big help. In addition to calming the mind, it relaxes your entire body and relieves stress.
For some people, showering in the morning is a solid part of their routine and they can’t imagine changing it. For others, however, nighttime is the way to go. What’s great about showering at night is that it serves as a good activity for winding down from the day and getting ready for bed. When your body’s temperature drops after stepping out of that relaxing stream of warm water into dry air, the rapid cooling actually helps prep your body for sleep.
Many people take to writing in their journals about their goals for the day and what they’re thankful for, which can help get them off on the right foot so they don’t end up distracted throughout the whole day. On the other hand, journaling at night is great for reflective work. You can write about what you accomplished that day, what needs improvement, what you learned and of course what you’re grateful for. Journaling is also another great pre-bedtime activity that helps release your thoughts onto paper so they don’t end up swirling around in your head at night keeping you up when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Rather than submerging themselves in email and other work-related tasks right away, some of the most successful people claim to spend their mornings reading books or articles that inspire them. And what better way to end your day than by doing the same thing before you turn in? By choosing a book over TV or your laptop/tablet/smartphone, you’ll also be avoiding exposure to blue light, which can keep you awake at night.
So if you can’t exactly fit all of these into your morning routine, whether you’re short on time or simply not alert enough for it, then moving it to your nighttime schedule might just be exactly what you need to make it easier on yourself in order to maintain some of these healthy habits. Always remember to do what works for you!
Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management