Mark Twain famously said that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.
While he almost certainly wasn't downing a toad each morning, what he probably was referring to is the willpower that exists early in the day to accomplish such a task. Studies have found that the brain's resiliency is highest in the morning just after waking, making it a prime time to get your most important work done.
But to do that, it's essential to make sure you're getting up right—which, perhaps surprisingly, also means going to sleep right. We at Mattress Mill think that a supportive, comfortable bed is a central part of that routine, but here are a few other tips to for helping you make the most of your restful sleep and daytime hours.
Make a List. What do Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart all have in common? They all use lists to help organize their priorities. One strategy used by CEOs and students alike is to start and end your day with a list—in the afternoon, when wrapping up your work, make a short list of things that need to be done tomorrow. That way, your task list is already set when you rise the next day.
Go to Bed at the Same Time Each Night. Just so you get used to getting up at a certain hour each morning, your brain and body function best when you hit your bed at the same time each night. Your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, regulates your ability to awake and fall asleep, so keeping that rhythm consistent from day to day helps maintain stability—and makes it easier to get up early each day.
Limit Screen Time. Text messages, Facebook notifications and the ding of a new email in the inbox are siren songs for most of us. But strong research suggests that stashing that phone or tablet somewhere out of reach for two to three hours before bed makes it easier to get to sleep – the blue light emitted by a computer or phone screen disrupts the brain's natural winding-down cycle that occurs when the sun goes down. Set your device to "do not disturb" or "airplane mode" limit intrusions from your device. Settle in with a good book, instead.
Rehydrate. To understand the importance of a big glass of water first thing in the morning, consider how you'd feel going for six to eight hours while awake without any kind of a drink. Your body does hard work at night, detoxifying and restoring itself, and a drink of water is just what it needs to stimulate your organs to get moving and flush out wastes.
Visualize Your Day. Thoughts become actions. Set a proactive tone for your day by imagining how you want to tackle the day's challenges—so that when the inevitable setbacks arrive, you've already set a positive intention for the day. Resist the urge to immediately respond to messages on your phone, a reactive action that starts the day off by putting other people's priorities ahead of your own.
Exercise. For some of us, Mark Twain's frog might be exercise: keeping a steady workout routine can be a constant battle. But getting the blood moving early serves a twofold purpose. For starters, exercising early boosts energy levels throughout the day. And if you'll recall how willpower is generally higher in the morning, exercise is simply easier to do when you're fresh and restored from sleep. Even a few rounds of stretching are beneficial.
Eat a Good Breakfast. This one almost goes without saying, but you wouldn't try to run your car without gas, right? Try and make room for good fuel for your morning—high quality proteins like eggs or Greek yogurt build strong muscles and healthy skin, bones and hair, while whole grains and healthy fats like multi-grain toast and avocados give you sustained energy throughout the day. Skip the cereal bar and make a plate of hot food before heading out—your body will thank you.