Everyone from top CEOs to elite athletes seems to have a morning routine they swear by. But, while some say the key to mornings is a HIIT workout, others say you should ease into the day by listening to a podcast.
We say the best morning routine is one that sets you up for a productive day, a good night’s sleep, and one that works with your natural biology, instead of fighting against it.
Below, we’ll explain how to create the best morning routine for you and how sleep and energy management app RISE can help you do it.
First up, why should you have a morning routine in the first place? Here’s why what you do in the morning is so important for the rest of your day.
Bedtime may feel far away when you’re only just waking up, but what you do in the morning can affect how well you sleep that night.
For example, getting light exposure first thing resets your body clock, setting you up to feel sleepy at the right time later that evening. When you feel sleepy at the right time, you’ll be more likely to get enough sleep each night. And when you get enough sleep, everything from your productivity to your mood, your energy levels to your overall health is improved.
Despite what you hear, no one really jumps out of bed feeling full of energy and ready to take on the day. Most of us experience sleep inertia — that groggy feeling you get after sleeping.
The activities you do in the morning can help to shake off sleep inertia faster, or they can leave you struggling with sleepiness later into the day.
As well as your morning energy levels, your morning routine can affect your energy levels for the rest of the day. By waking up at a consistent time, for example, you can regulate your body clock, fall asleep faster each night, and maximize how much energy you feel throughout the entire day.
Research shows a consistent sleep schedule can make you feel more alert, even if you get the same amount of sleep on an irregular schedule.
A morning routine can make you more productive, but that’s not because you cram your mornings full of work.
Once sleep inertia wears off, you’ll feel your energy levels rise as you go into your first energy peak of the day. This is all part of your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal biological clock that runs on a roughly 24-hour cycle. Your circadian rhythm dictates when you feel sleepy and alert throughout the day.
If you’ve spent the earlier part of your morning doing the right things and you know when this energy peak is coming (more on how to use RISE to do this soon), you’ll be ready to make the most of this energy peak by spending it on important and demanding tasks, and not waste it on easy to-dos like emails or admin.
A morning routine doesn’t have to be all about optimizing your health and productivity, though. It should also be something you enjoy.
When you have a morning routine you look forward to, you’ll find it easier to get out of bed and be less likely to hit the snooze button. This is especially helpful if you’re a night owl trying to become a morning person.
So, make time for self-care activities in the mornings. This could include listening to a chapter of an audiobook or your favorite playlist, for example. Or it could mean playing with your kids or taking your dog for a walk.
Successful people all seem to have a morning routine, but what they actually do is different. We say the best morning is one that:
Let’s dive into what each one of these things mean exactly, and how you can achieve them.
Just because someone says you should start your day at 5 a.m. doesn’t mean that’s right for you.
The best time to wake up will depend on a few things:
First, your sleep need. Your sleep need is the individual amount of sleep you need each night. It’s determined by genetics, just like height and eye color, and it isn’t simply eight hours for everyone.
The RISE app uses historical sleep data from your phone and proprietary sleep-science-based models to work out your sleep need down to the minute. The time you wake up should be a time that allows you to meet your sleep need each night.
While meeting your sleep need each and every night is the ideal, we know life often gets in the way of that. Instead of worrying about every minute of lost sleep, however, focus on keeping your overall sleep debt low.
Sleep debt is the running total of how much sleep you owe your body. At RISE, we measure it over your past 14 nights and recommend you keep it below five hours to feel and perform your best.
When you miss out on your sleep need one night, you can catch up on sleep and lower your sleep debt through well-timed naps, going to bed a little earlier, or sleeping in a little later the following night. RISE does the hard work of keeping track for you.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep debt.
Next, your chronotype. Your chronotype is your natural tendency to go to sleep and wake up earlier or later. There are early birds and night owls, and many of us sit somewhere in between the two extremes. What chronotype are you? Learn more here.
Your chronotype dictates, in part, the timing of your circadian rhythm. RISE predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to wake up and when it wants to go to sleep each night.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen.
Finally, your social clock. Your social clock includes any responsibilities and commitments you have in the mornings, such as starting work at a certain time or getting the kids ready for school.
While night owls might want to naturally sleep in until 10 a.m., their social clocks — a job starting at 9 a.m. for example — may make this impossible. If you find your circadian rhythm is running too late for your social clock, you can reset your sleep schedule. More on how to do this soon.
You can also find out more about the best time to sleep and wake up here.
Your morning routine should give you enough time to shake off sleep inertia before you need to be “on” for the day.
Sleep inertia may be caused by adenosine, a compound that builds up in your brain all the time you’re awake. As adenosine levels rise, you’ll start feeling drowsy and eventually get the urge to sleep — which is known as sleep pressure. As you sleep, adenosine is purged from your system and you’ll wake up with much lower levels of it, resetting the cycle.
However, when you wake up, there are still trace amounts of adenosine in your system, and this is what causes that groggy feeling you get first thing.
So, you want to give yourself enough time for your body to get rid of the final amounts of adenosine and shake off grogginess before you need to dive into an important task at work, for example.
Sleep inertia can last from one minute to four hours, but there are a few things you can do to cut this down.
Here’s how to reduce sleep inertia:
RISE can predict how long your sleep inertia will last each morning — we call this your grogginess zone. Check your grogginess zone to see when you can expect your energy levels to start rising.
You can learn more about sleep inertia and how to combat it here.
You probably won’t be feeling your best 60 to 90 minutes after waking — you can thank sleep inertia for that. But, once morning grogginess fades, you’ll move into your first energy peak of the day. This is your biological prime time, when your energy levels are high and you’ll be your most productive.
You can use your morning routine to make the most of your morning energy peak.
During your morning routine, you can knock out some easy daily activities that don’t require much mental energy, such as:
With these easy tasks taken care of, you can go into your morning energy peak ready to tackle the important work, rather than wasting your most productive hours on the easier tasks.
RISE can help you keep track of the best times to do certain activities each morning, as well as throughout the rest of your daily routine.
On the app, select morning routine activities you’d like to do like drinking a coffee, getting some exercise, reading, or meditating. Then, select peak energy activities you'd like to do, like having important meetings or doing creative work. RISE can then send you daily reminders for when you should be switching between the two types of activities depending on your circadian rhythm each day.
This stops you from trying to jump into difficult work when you’re better off slowly ramping up for the day. And stops you from wasting any precious peak productivity time on easy morning routine tasks.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set reminders for their personalized morning routine.
What you do in the morning doesn’t just set you up for the day, it can affect your nights, too. One of the most important things to include in every morning routine is getting some exposure to natural light.
Light has the power to reset your circadian rhythm, telling your body it’s time to be awake. When you get light first thing, you’ll not only kick-start your energy for the day, you’ll be setting yourself up to feel sleepy at the right time later that evening.
Aim to get at least 10 minutes of natural light as soon as possible after waking up. If it’s cloudy out, or you’re getting light through a window, make it 30 minutes. If you can’t get out in natural sunlight, use a 10k lux light lamp instead for 20 minutes.
Light isn’t just important to think about in the morning, though. Come evening, you should avoid it as light suppresses melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep.
RISE can tell you when exactly you should be getting light and when you should be dimming the lights and putting on blue-light blocking glasses to stop light from your screens keeping you awake at night.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their get bright light reminder.
If you’re used to rolling straight out of bed and out the door to work, it can feel hard to suddenly start waking up earlier to make time for a morning routine. Here’s how to reset your circadian rhythm to an earlier schedule:
There’s a lot to remember when it comes to sleep hygiene, but the RISE app can help you master everything from consuming caffeine at the right time to eating, working out, and drinking alcohol when it’s best for you and your sleep.
RISE guides you through 20+ daily habits for sleep hygiene and tells you the ideal time to do them based on our circadian rhythm, which makes them even more effective.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.
How you spend your mornings can affect the rest of your day and your nights. Get mornings right with the RISE app.
RISE can tell you how much sleep you need to feel your best each morning and day. Plus, it can predict your circadian rhythm, showing you when your body naturally wants to wake up, when you’ll feel groggy, and when your energy will start rising.
RISE can also help you form new habits — like getting light exposure and exercising — to help you shake off sleep inertia, boost your energy levels, and fall asleep faster each night. Beyond simply acting as a habit tracker, though, RISE tells you the exact right time to do 20+ healthy habits to help you master sleep hygiene, improving your mornings, your days, and your nights.
Find a morning routine that works for you by using the RISE app to wake up when your body naturally wants to. Then, give yourself enough time to shake off morning grogginess and do activities that set you up for a productive day and restful night’s sleep later that evening.
RISE is the best morning routine app as it can tell you when your body naturally wants to wake up, when your energy levels will start rising, and the best time to do things like get bright light, drink coffee, and exercise to set you up for a productive day and restful night’s sleep.
RISE is the best app for your daily routine as it predicts your circadian rhythm each day. You can then schedule your tasks to match your energy levels, wake up and go to sleep when your body naturally wants to, and see the best times to do everything from drink coffee to work out.
RISE is the best night routine app as it predicts your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to start winding down and going to sleep. RISE can also remind you to avoid sleep-disrupting behaviors like drinking coffee, eating large meals, or working out too close to bedtime.
RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential
RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential