Hydrate, Get Some Light and Move Your Body
“To own your life, you gotta own the day.”
– Aubrey Marcus, Founder and CEO of Onnit
There are three simple practices that you can and should incorporate in your morning routine that could drastically improve the rest of your day. The first of which is hydrating your body directly after waking, and I don’t mean coffee. What I do mean is you should be re-hydrating your body with high-quality H20, commonly known as water. Secondly, is to simply, get some light. This can be done a couple of ways, but the best way is direct sun exposure, not too much not too little. Another method is using a device called the Human-charger, which I’ll discuss more later. Last but certainly not least, the third practice is to get your body moving. This doesn’t have to be, nor should it, be strenuous. Light aerobic movement such as stretching, yoga, or a brief walk would suffice.
Importance of Adequate Hydration
Let’s look at why hydrating your body first thing in the morning is essential and why high-quality hydration source matters. Being at least adequately hydrated is crucial to our bodies being able to function correctly. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration resulting from fluid loss equaling roughly 1 percent of your body weight can cause headaches, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue.1 At as little as 2 percent decreases in mental performance and short-term memory loss can begin to occur.2 Considering that 78% of Americans in 2007 were chronically dehydrated,3 based on their water intake, how can we possibly get our days off on the right foot when we are fatigued and forgetting everything. We should also be aware that we are most dehydrated when we first wake up.
When You Wake, Drink Some High-Quality H2O
When you get a full night’s sleep, you’ve just gone seven or more hours without drinking any water. This dehydrated state can be further compounded by many factors such as dryer climates, working out the previous evening, or drinking alcohol the night before creating a fluid deficit before even going to sleep. As a result, we most often wake up thirsty and you would think that solving this issue would be simple. Just get up and drink some water to re-hydrate vital internal components that need to be hydrated to function best. Instead, more often than not the first liquid people consume first thing is coffee.
This is not to say that coffee is bad, although low-quality coffee is, but rather that the time we consume said coffee should be taken into consideration. Here’s one reason why that is, when you’re dehydrated and have nothing in your stomach (or very little) caffeine will enter your bloodstream incredibly fast. This releases a flood of stress hormones from your adrenal glands that activate the bodies sympathetic nervous system,4 otherwise known as our bodies fight-or-flight response. When our bodies are in this excited state it uses water to help cool the body,5 although this may not be as noticeable as seen during exercise.
Importance of Adding Minerals To Your Water & A Mineral Cocktail Recipe
Hydration is essential but a glass of water from your kitchen faucet isn’t going to cut it. The goal is not just to cure your dry mouth, but to hydrate our internal components (organs, fascia, cells). What is needed is minerals such as manganese, potassium, phosphorus, bromine, boron, zinc, and many more. These minerals play an essential role in our bodies hydration status without them we cannot be truly hydrated, at least at the cellular level.6 How do we get these minerals into our drinking water? By adding them of course, sea salt is one of the best ways to do this. The most practical way to accomplish this, on a routinely basis, is to make yourself a morning mineral cocktail recipe. An example of this would be combining 12 ounces of water (preferably filtered), 2-3 grams of sea salt, and a splash of lemon.
Importance of Light & Our Circadian Rhythm
Now what about light, why is light important? Light is important because it plays the strongest role in regulating our bodies sleep and wake cycle what is called circadian rhythm.7 Not just any light either, blue light, more specifically sunlight as it is the most abundant source of blue light. Circadian rhythm tells our body when it’s time to wake up and when to sleep and is often referred to as our bodies internal clock. If our internal clock is off the result is sleepiness, decreased energy levels, and even weight gain.8 Ideally, due to our biology, we are supposed to wake up with the sun and go sleep with the stars. But the timing of your circadian rhythm can easily be altered by environment or choices that we make, which can cause internal desynchronization (imbalance). The factor that causes the largest imbalance is, you guessed it, light. What can you do about this?
Sunlight & The HumanCharger
You have a couple of options but preferably upon waking you would expose yourself to 5-10 minutes of direct sunlight (blue-light). Another great option is something called a HumanCharger made by a company named Valkee located in Helsinki, Finland. The HumanCharger, as described on their website, is a revolutionary device that channels bright light directly to the light-sensitive regions of the brain, right where it is needed the most.9 Essentially the HumanCharger device is a pair of light-emitting earbuds. Why earbuds? There are more light-sensitive receptors than just those on the retinas, these receptors are also found in the brain, including the cerebrum and the hypothalamus.10 One of the best and most effective ways to shine light on these brain receptors is through the ear canal. If you think this sounds crazy, I bet you’re not the only one, but a number of studies have shown incredible benefits from reducing symptoms and improving mental performance in people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to combating the effects of jetlag.11 It’s important to remember whatever benefits this device may offer it will still not be as good as sunlight exposure, but it’s a great option whenever sun exposure is not possible.
Importance Of Movement
Then comes step three in upgrading your morning routine – movement. I’m not going to lie to you this is probably going to be the most difficult to build into your routine. One major key to understand here is that I’m not talking about a morning workout, just morning movement. Even light exercise (movement) boosts circulation and improve cognitive performance.12,13 Moving the body also, along with light, helps get the bodies circadian rhythm back into balance. Movement also sends a strong cue to the body that it is time to wake up, just as light does. There are many ways to get this movement in, but if it’s not at least a little enjoyable it’s likely not going to stick. Whether this is a short yoga routine, a walk, walking your dog, burpees (no way), or even bouncing on a mini trampoline (called a rebounder). The point is to pick some type of movement that you don’t hate and will be able to incorporate easily.
Hydration, Light & Movement
So, there you have it three ways you can upgrade your morning routine are hydration, light, and movement. As most people are chronically dehydrated, especially after sleeping, and need to start the morning off hydrating well. Many peoples’ circadian rhythms are all out of order and need rebalancing by exposing their bodies light-sensitive receptors to tell them its morning. Not enough of us get morning movement in so that we may wake up our bodies and build momentum to set our day off on a positive trajectory.