Two top PTs share the simple ways they get more out of morning, noon and night.
For the next instalment of our autumn guide to high performance living we’re continuing to focus on maximising every minute. And while you may be on your boss’s schedule at work, morning and night time are yours to master. Which is where we come in. Book end your day with healthy, practical habits that you can do at home and you’ll set yourself up for stress-free success in the office and sound, wellbeing-boosting sleep at night. It’s small tweaks for big results.
Morning Routine – Seb James, Fitness & PT Manager
Firstly, let’s clear up one thing – not everyone is a morning person. And though not everyone has the luxury of starting their day bright-eyed, everyone has to get up. Here are my simple plans to make the most of your morning – whether you like it or not.
1) Prepare for the worst – And by worst, I mean the 6am alarm. Optimising your morning routine actually begins the night before: prep your clothes, food, and put the coffee pod in the machine. Take the pressure off your morning self with a little forward thinking. You could even have another 5 minutes in bed…
2) Make your bed – This one is crazily simple, and recommended by military hero, Naval Admiral William McRaven: “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day” and from there you are mentally set to tackle any to-do list. Speaking of which…
3) Compile a to-do list – The act of list writing has been scientifically proven to order your mind and, with your day’s tasks laid, the anxiety of the unknown is removed. Spend 10 minutes jotting down a definitive list and prioritise exercise equally to work – you can use gel pens and highlighters, if you really, really to.
4) Start your nutrition plan – But don’t stick to the same thing everyday. Once you’ve written your list, you’ll have a good idea of what your morning is going to look like. Having three options to switch between is a good starting place. If you’re rushing off to a morning workout then stick to coffee. If you need energy for morning meetings, oats are a great option. If your morning is clear – then it’s time for avocado and eggs, obviously.
5) Refocus your brain – Finally, take your mind off work to avoid mental fatigue later in the day. This may seem easier said than done, but a short read, watching of the news or listening to a podcast will do. Then, unplug your headphones and you’re ready to own the day.
Night Time Routine – Andy Vincent, Elite Personal Trainer
You’ve heard it all before: 8 hours of solid sleep is the simplest way to avoid a long list of heart-palpitating health issues. If only it were that easy. Personally, I have struggled with sleep for years and have done my fair share of research into different sleep hygiene routines. Here are my top five pre-bed tips to make sleep easy:
1) Upgrade your meditation – I’ve tried all the apps and never really got the hype. I then learnt how to do Vedic meditation – Google it – and it totally changed my perception. I find it best to do when you get home from work, ideally with dinner in the oven to eat after a 15-minute mediation.
2) Reduce exposure to artificial light – The invention of the light bulb could be the single biggest factors to negatively affect our natural sleeping patterns. The human brain associates light with daytime. To calm your body and naturally prepare it for sleep, dim the lights in your living room, put your phone down and invest in lamps in your bedroom that gradually switch off over time. Your brain will know what to do.
3) Get in a routine – Erratic evening routines will result in erratic sleep. Stick to a scheduled bed time and your internal body clock will catch on fast. But don’t go too early – if you’re not tired and force yourself into bed that won’t work. Clock watching in bed will only serve to stress you out and make sleep more elusive.
4) Nail your nutrition – It goes against convention for many but save your smaller meal for the evening. This will stop the feelings of fullness that can make lying in bed uncomfortable. You can ease this by also reducing the amount of slowly digested foods such as red meat and cruciferous vegetables and legumes you eat at this time. The easier you go on your stomach the less likely it is that you’ll be grumbling about poor sleep tomorrow morning. Think light bites at night.