Morning People Really Are Happier, According to Science

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By Michelle Darrisaw

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You may want to rethink hitting your snooze button in the morning. According to a new study, the time you decide to rise and shine could impact your overall mental and physical health.

Jacqueline Lane, an instructor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, recently conducted a sleep study and published her findings in the Nature Communicationsjournal. In an interview with TODAY, the professor revealed that early risers are essentially happier and healthier than nighthawks. Lane observed that those who wake up early have a specific genetic component that lowers their risk of developing depression and chronic illnesses.

“Individuals who tend to be happier tend to be morning-type individuals,” Lane said.

The population sample for the study was comprised of two groups: 250,000 people in the U.S. who used the DNA and ancestry services of biotech company, 23andMe and 450,000 people in the U.K. who enrolled in the biorepository Biobank across the pond. Lane and her team of researchers used sleep timing measures to evaluate circadian biology as it relates to genes.

They separated the group by those who identify as morning people and those who can’t pry themselves away from Netflix at night (or, ya know, just go to bed late in general). From there, Lane and her associates examined their genomes to determine the relationship between their genes and their preferred wake-up time and how it connects to their health. And what they found was pretty interesting.

Trying to change a night owl to a morning lark has serious health consequences.

“We show that being a morning person is causally associated with better mental health but does not affect body mass index or risk of Type 2 diabetes,” stated Lane in the study’s results.

“There is also a link between evening preference and a higher risk of schizophrenia (and depression),” she explained to TODAY.

But don’t think that just because you don’t hit the hay as soon as the sun goes down that you’re at risk for developing a mental health disorder.

“It is incredibly complicated,” she added. “The genetics about being a night owl is only part of it. It is more about environment, with living out of sync with your internal clock. Trying to change a night owl to a morning lark has serious health consequences.”

Still, Lane admitted more research needs to be done on how our genes are affected by our sleep cycles. However, it couldn’t hurt to set your alarm to get up a tad earlier.

“Understanding if you are a morning or evening person can really impact the schedule you choose,” Lane said. “It might determine when you choose activities or the timing of your meals.

So, now you know there’s a quasi-scientific reason why all the those morning people in your life tend to wake up so darned peppy.

5 Essential Morning Habits For The Modern Entrepreneur

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Tanner Simkins

Behind the most successful entrepreneurs is often a motivated morning routine. According to researchers at The University of Nottingham, self control, willpower and task-performance all peak in the morning. This means business owners who can max out this crucial time are off to a great start for the day. In this spirit, here are five essential morning habits collected from case studies and best practices in the sports and entertainment industries.

1. Consult a tomorrow list.

Start your morning the night before. In doing so, you will immediately create a sense of purpose and anticipate potential problems. With a plan in mind, your day will already be timely, organized and more effective. Scott Cullather, CEO of inVNT, a live events agency in New York, schedules a meeting with his key support team before the close of business in order to review the following day’s agenda. Cullather says “we review and forecast what tomorrow is going to look like and how we’re going to get through that. It gives us an opportunity to re-prioritize. It also allows us to go to bed at night. Your mind does a lot of work for you while you’re sleeping. You get there the next day and are much more efficient and productive.”

Related: The 10-Minute Morning Routine That Will Clear Your Mind

Another example is athletics, where training schedules and game plans are the norm. Head coach for Team Running USA, Terrence Mahon, says the “benefits of preparing and executing a training plan come in so when the pressure mounts, athletes will feel reassured that they’ve done enough.” The same is true for leaders in business.

2. Practice morning mindfulness.

Entrepreneurs should focus on meditation or exercise in order to pre-establish focus for the entire day. Tim Ferriss engages in both meditation and exercise prior to his workday. In meditating, “you’re practicing focus when it doesn’t matter so that you can focus better later when it does matter.” Former MLB great and now Miami Marlins owner Derek Jeter lists one hour morning meditations as a regular part of his routine.

3. Focus on the morning nutrients.

A healthy breakfast fuels your day. The Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has a healthy fruit salad and muesli to start his day. Twitter’s co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey has two hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce every morning. For elite professional athletes, nutrition rituals exist as a very specific, and often superstitious, routine to begin the day. Professional tennis player Novak Djokovic follows a long, detailed order beginning with a large cup of room temperature water and ending with muesli or oatmeal, to provide his body with what he needs to perform at peak levels.

Related: 6 Morning Health Hacks to Boost Productivity and Keep You Energized All Day

Rachel DeMita, host/producer for sports highlights network Overtime and a digital content creator, told me in our recent interview that “eating healthy and getting in a good workout are important for me. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and I make sure to continue to stay active for my work. I’m still able to hang with some professional athletes and hold my own in a way.”

4. The quintessence of positivity.

Envisioning success will help you realize success. Olympic gold medalist and author Katie Ledecky writes “think of something else, something that doesn’t cause you stress.” Take Ledecky’s advice to radiate happiness and suppress anxiety.

I recently sat down with Jack McClinton, former NBA player and current CEO of Active Dreamers, a company innovating sports retail with its unique blankets and pillows that resemble player likenesses. He told me in our interview that he always tries to “wake up and win the day.” The athlete turned entrepreneur added “I always try to keep my energy at a positive level and vibrate at a high level because I understand this elevates your mindset.”

Related: 5 Tips to Improve Focus and Get Things Done

5. Track results and review goals.

Most entrepreneurs are already goal-oriented people, but where many of them fall short is in writing down their goals and tracking their progress. Setting specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals — SMART goals — is the secret sauce for successful entrepreneurs.

With the proper and consistent application of these five morning essentials, entrepreneurial success is well within reach.

7 Unconventional Ways To Maximize Your Morning

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CW Headley

I recently wrote an article about the role coffee plays in our cultural routine. In addition to its practical one, it also serves as a reliable boost for morale.

Coffee shares this distinction with a good many things, the bulk of which are painfully pedestrian: Eight hours of sleep, a mantra in the mirror, a cup of coffee and a read during your commute – we’ve read it all before.

Monotony is the common enemy of every profession so here are seven unconventional but healthy ways to start your morning.

1.  Eat pasta

Claire Lower made a great case for why breakfast lasagna is a practical morning meal in a piece recently published by Lifehacker. You can make a big ole’ batch that’ll be good throughout the week, it’s relatively easy to make and it’s a great source of fat, protein and carbs if prepared properly.

There’s so many ways to make a tasty-healthy pasta dish, too. Whole grain noodles for your dose of fiber (whole grains also fight disease and reduce your waistline), tomatoes for your vitamin C, and cheese for your needed drench of comfort.

2. Yoga

In 2017, Leah Wynalek did yoga every day for two weeks before heading into work. The results? Most relevantly Wynalek found the routine to drastically reduce the discomfort of sitting in a desk chair all day. She felt “energized” and much more prepared to start her morning.

In a more general sense, yoga has been proven to yield a calmer mind. Mental clarity is the most salient ingredient to a productive morning.  Just 10-12 minutes a day is more than enough to starting seeing results.

3. Quick 5-Minute Meditation

“While the body needs consistent movement in order to be healthy, the mind thrives with regular doses of stillness.” This quote arrives by the curtesy of meditation expert Ralph De La Rosa.

Morning meditation is a great way to energize mood ahead of a productive day. Try and wake up a few minutes earlier than usual, sit at the edge of your bed, close your eyes–and breathe. You’ll notice that things seem just a touch more attainable, you become a little less overwhelmed a little less easily. The sacrifice of a few extra minutes of sleep every morning bestows a feeling of preparedness for your daily challenges.

4 Subbing coffee for healthier alternatives

You’ll find no protest from me regarding the effectiveness of coffee (I probably drink something like 9 cups a day) but I’d be remiss to suggest there aren’t a significant number of healthier alternatives that get the job done just as well.

Things like Matcha, (powerful source of anti-oxidants), chicory (rich with inulin), Yerba Mate, (riboflavin, thiamine, phosphorus, iron, calcium) and chai (lowers risk of heart disease) are all great places to start.  Here’s a link for Healthline’s guide of ingredients and preparation.

5.  Blast Some Tunes

Before I became a fully realized coffee junkie, I used to start every Monday by blasting Another Side Of Bob Dylan front to back. If you’re not careful mornings can be a sort of personality vampire. On the days I leap out of bed and launch straight into work without giving myself even a modicum of personal attention, all of my values and interest feel stale in my mind.

Reserve a little space in your pre-work routine for your favorite song just to remind yourself of your identity outside of the office. Life coach Sharon Stokes corroborates stating: “Music has the ability to shift your state, so play something that gets you in the right mindset for your day. ”

6.  Social interaction

Many of us aren’t the most gregarious in the wee hours of the morning but studies suggest that a little bit of social interaction can go a long way in rebooting your moods throughout the day.

Try and touch base with your significant other before you head in to work (I’ll just leave this here), or ignite a conversation with your barista.  A brief chat, whether superficial or intimate, can boost alertness as well as temperament

7. Make a plan

In his book, Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, author, Charles Duhigg, counsels us to determine what things deserve our attention. In chapter 4, Duhigg mentions the four classifications of goals frequently utilized by corporations: the specific,  the measurable, the achievable and the realistic – all applied to a timeline.

Make the “smart goal” system keep you on track. Visualizing what you wish to achieve helps your streamline your focus. Setting goals, allows room for the unexpected of course, but having a definitive finish line in mind will make you more productive.