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Summer is the best time of year for a number of reasons: warm weather, longer hours of daylight and, most importantly, more time at the beach. It also happens to be a great time of year to (finally) become a morning person. Most of the obstacles we face in getting up in the morning are easily solved during the summer months, which can help you to set the tone for the rest of the year.
The benefits of an "early to bed, early to rise" mentality are numerous—studies showing morning people are more productive throughout the day. But it takes work, says Dr. Edward F. Group, founder and CEO of the Global Healing Center. "Becoming a morning person, especially if you've always identified as a night person, is going to be a challenge to achieve and maintain," he says. "It can be done, but it won't happen by accident. For most people, it's going to mean going to bed earlier so they can actually get up earlier."
But don't be intimidated. Here, the professionals give us advice on how to make the most of our summer mornings and help even the crankiest of morning people ease into a healthy routine by the end of summer.
Try an outdoor fitness class
The warmer weather allows people in even the coldest of cities to get outside for their workouts. Jessica Nelson, HUM Nutrition's corporate registered dietitian nutritionist, recommends getting your daily dose of Vitamin D early in the morning. "Studies have shown that getting in 20-30 minutes of sunlight between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. is the best time to positively impact your health without getting too much of those harmful UV rays," she says. Just be sure to apply sunscreen. When the weather is not quite as warm, she suggests a Vitamin D supplement, such as this one.
Catch a sunrise
Sunrises and sunsets are some of nature's most beautiful sights. Some would argue seeing the sun rise is reason enough to become a morning person. Lynne Goldberg, meditation coach and co-founder of the OMG! I Can Meditate app, recommends using the sunrise to meditate. "Take advantage of summer's early sunrises by meditating first thing, which will clear your mind and mentally prepare you for what's ahead," she says. "Starting the day with a meditation session has proven to boost energy levels, so you'll continually feel refreshed and awakened when you hit the early-morning alarm." Nelson agrees, "Exercising at any time of the day is encouraged, but moving more in the morning has been studied and shown to improve your productivity, memory and overall brain function later in the day while decreasing mental fatigue and stress".
Embrace seasonal foods for breakfast
Summer is the best time to eat healthy, nutrient-rich, seasonal foods like strawberries, passionfruit, watermelon and tomatoes. Get in the habit of snacking on them during the summer, so that when the fall weather comes it will be easier to stick to the routine. Nelson's personal mantra has always been that breakfast sets the tone for her day. "When you are getting in a balanced and nutritious breakfast, you are more likely to stick to a healthy eating schedule because you feel hungrier at more appropriate times throughout the day," she says. Swerve fitness instructor Jamey Powell recommends a cool smoothie or acai bowl to cool you down after a workout. Doesn't that sound refreshing after an outdoor fitness class? In fact, enjoying a delicious breakfast after your workout will soon start to look like a great reward for getting up and going to class.
Use your circadian rhythm to your advantage
Your circadian rhythm is the term used to describe the mental and physical changes your body goes through in a 24-hour period. It's how your body processes physical cues like light and darkness. During the summer months, you can use this to your advantage to start waking earlier to get your day started, and increase your productivity throughout the day. "Brighter mornings can reset your internal clock, otherwise known as your body's circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep and wake cycles," Nelson explains. "The idea is that if you are waking up earlier, then you are falling asleep sooner. Thus, getting a more rested night of sleep and essentially decreasing the frequency and intensity of that midday sleepiness." Dr. Group shared a similar statement, explaining "the sun rises earlier and, providing you've had adequate sleep, your brain will be way more on board with getting up when it's beginning to look light outside, as opposed to resembling the darkness of night."
Take it easy
Becoming a morning person is not easy, but you don't have to abruptly yank yourself out of bed each morning. Take it one step at a time. "If you wake up earlier in the morning, make that time for you, whether you get a workout in, read a book or drink a hot cup of tea," suggests nutritionist and personal trainer Sophie Gray. Vanessa Martin is also a firm believer in taking time to appreciate every morning, which she credits as a path to enlightenment. Her recommendation is to watch a sunrise. "Cut a night out a little shorter so waking up the next day is a little easier," she says. "See how your body responds to morning workouts. Appreciate the smell of coffee a little more, and appreciate a lazy day every now and then. This summer is your wake up call. Don't hit snooze!"
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