You know the two types: morning “larks” and night “owls.” And chances are, you also know about the perceived differences between the two. Night owls tend to have more sex, but morning people tend to be more proactive, conscientious, and (drumroll please) happier. But for those who find it difficult—or downright miserable—to hit the ground running as soon as the sun rises, science says that there’s still hope to learn to take advantage of the morning hours (and be happy doing it).
A new collaborative study conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Surrey, and Australia’s Monash University has shown that if you naturally have owl tendencies, you can change your ways and seize the morning—to a certain degree. The results of the study, which were published in the Sleep Medicine journal earlier this year, confirmed that night owls could shift their body clocks by two hours while still getting the same amount of sleep. Participants who shifted their sleep schedules reported that they felt less tired in the morning, more energized throughout the day, and experienced lower levels of depression and stress.
We asked the most successful, productive business leaders and creatives in our rolodex what they do (and what they use) to make the most of the morning. Here are their 8 go-to tips and tools that you can use to rise and shine, too.
Walk the dog (Really)
“I walk the dog every morning,” Coulter Lewis, founder and CEO of the Earth-friendly lawn care company Sunday, says. “He’s not that into it, but I need to get my head clear to start the day. His head is already pretty clear.” Jaclyn Johnson, CEO and founder of Create & Cultivate, the women’s-focused professional online platform and conference, follows the same ritual. “I wake up around 6 AM, walk my dog, and clear my head,” she says.
For all the miles your pooch is putting in, it’s a good idea to invest in a collar and leash that can go the distance with you. Wolfgang makes durable pet accessories that are tested in the mountains of the American West, and come with a lifetime warranty. The original fabric patterns and prints will make your pooch look as good as you’ll feel on your morning jaunt. Wolfgang LosMuertos Dog Collar ($20) and Leash ($25)
Get creative with your caffeine
Sixty-four percent of Americans age 18 or over said they drank a cup of coffee per day in 2018. It’s no secret that we love our caffeine, but Victoria Lynden, founder of Kohana Coffee, likes to take things up a notch when it comes to her morning cup. “I make a cup of coffee and put a shot of Picnik Creamer in it that has MCT oil,” she says. MCT oil and other high-fat ingredients (like butter) that people put into their coffee allow the body to metabolize caffeine more slowly and are reputed to make your energy stay stable, preventing the dreaded caffeine “crash.” Picnik Coffee Creamer ($9)
Take your daily
While the effectiveness of daily vitamins is controversial, the Physicians’ Health Study II published in 2012 by Harvard researchers found that participants who took a daily multivitamin for 11 years had an 8% lower risk of cancer and a 9% lower risk of cataracts compared with a placebo group. Additionally, taking a vitamin in the morning on an empty stomach allows your body to absorb B-vitamins such as riboflavin and vitamin-b12, which may help boost energy and reduce stress. Sarah Harden, CEO of Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine, swears by her subscription to Ritual Vitamins, are specially formulated to deliver the nine nutrients U.S. women are most commonly deficient in. “They send them to me every month,” she says, “and I take them each morning. I now pretty much feel as though I am nailing the self-care thing.” Ritual Vitamin Subscription ($30 per month)
Studies have shown that meditation helps control stress and improve sleep—two factors that can help you feel awake in the morning. “I’ve only committed to meditating in the past year or so,” Neha Gandhi, COO of Girlboss, says. “I’m not great at it, and my mind wanders pretty much constantly, but I’m pretty sold on the benefits anyway.” She says she’s a fan of this free series of guided meditations from UCLA.
Carine Roitfield, editor-in-chief and Global Fashion Director at Harper’s Bazaar, has a similar routine. “Every morning, for 10 minutes, I listen to this app called Pause,” she says. “It makes me feel better for the entire day. It’s all about positive affirmations and I think it’s very efficient.”
Picking out tomorrow’s outfit the night before can save you time and stress in the morning—so you have a few extra minutes to dedicate elsewhere. “I always pick out what I am going to wear the next day so that I can hit the ground running in the morning when I wake up at 5,” says Joel Flory, CEO and cofounder of photo-editing app VSCO. Using an app like Stylebook—which was developed by a former intern in the Vogue fashion closet and catalogs every item of clothing, accessory, and pair of shoes you own and creates outfits out of your own options—can make it easier by literally telling you what to wear tomorrow.
Stylebook app ($3)
Write it out
“Every morning when I wake up, I have a cup of coffee and journal the three goals I want to accomplish that day,” says Shopbrain CEO James Cunningham. “My Moleskine journal gets a lot of use.”
Chris Hunter, cofounder of the plant-based protein shake company Koia, also swears by his journal. “I spend a few minutes writing [in the morning] to clear my mind . . . and planning my day in my BestSelf Co. Planner,” he says. “It has a section for morning gratitude, daily goals, daily priorities, and scheduling. This gives me some time to clear my head before the rest of the family wakes up and the day officially begins.”
Moleskine Cahier Journal ($10), Bestself Co. Self Planner ($32)
Pump up the jams
“While it doesn’t take much to get me going, the minute I get out of bed, I turn on my music and keep the tunes on rotation until I walk out the door,” says Michael Houston, Worldwide CEO of the advertising agency Grey Group. We love the compact Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth home speaker for its new-age wireless tech, old-school analog looks, and rich sound quality that can get the music (and your creativity) pumping.
Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth speaker ($250)
Hit the ground running
The single most common response we get when we ask business leaders what their “on switch” in the morning is? Exercise. And while plenty of folks swear by spin class or commute to the gym before heading to the office, nothing beats a good old-fashioned run. “A few days a week I wake up early to stretch and run in my neighborhood, and my route usually gets me beside the San Francisco Bay for a bit,” says James Quarles, CEO of Strava. “I buy new running shoes every four to five months, most recently Hoka One One Rincons.”
Hoka One One Rincon ($115)
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