3 Rituals To Do Every Morning For Better Sleep At Night, From A Functional MD
While most sleep advice is geared toward nighttime, functional medicine doctor Frank Lipman, M.D., knows that better sleep starts in the morning.
When the author of the new book Better Sleep, Better You joined a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, he reminded us that since sleep is dictated by the body's natural rhythms, there's plenty we can do earlier in the day to set the stage for more restful evenings.
So in addition to maintaining a tech-free wind-down ritual, keeping a comfortable sleep environment, and if necessary taking a relaxing supplement (he's a fan of mbg's sleep support+) come bedtime, Lipman has some tips for setting yourself up for a deeper slumber the moment you roll out of bed.*
Here's the doctor's formula for a rest-enriching morning routine:
In short, "exercise is one of the best things you can do for sleep," Lipman says. Research continues to find that any type of physical exercise will support deeper sleep1 (and vice versa2).
However, the timing of exercise is important: "Most people should exercise in the morning or the afternoon at the latest," Lipman says, since exercising too close to bed could prove more stimulating than relaxing for some folks.
By working up a sweat in the morning, you'll give your body plenty of time to recover and integrate the mind-body benefits of exercise before bed.
Lipman recommends pairing your exercise with meditation to further prepare your body for a peaceful day and night. Meditating can improve heart rate variability3, a key marker of sleep quality4, by helping to activate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.
Keeping up with a consistent morning practice can help you deal with stressors throughout the day and give you the tools necessary to quiet the anxious, racing thoughts that often contribute to insomnia come bedtime.
Go for a walk.
In addition to being a good low-intensity exercise, walking in the morning promotes sleep by keeping our body's circadian clocks ticking along smoothly.
Getting some sun shortly after waking will tell your body that it's time to wake up and start the day. It's especially important for people who spend most of their time inside in front of screens: The body thrives when it's exposed to sunlight during the day and darkness at night, and it's difficult for us to know when to sleep if we always think it's Zoom o'clock.
In short: Anything we can do to get in touch with the rhythms of nature will also help us connect to the rhythms of our own bodies. So after your early sweat and mindful moment, taking a sunny stroll will cap off your healthy morning and will continue to serve you well into the day and night.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.