Your day could be off to an even better start with a few simple tweaks.
By Corrie Pikul
Mistake 1: You hit the ground running.
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You jump out of bed ready to face the day head-on. The problem is that you may be demanding too much from your back muscles, which are often stiff from a long night of resting in one place, says Robert Oexman, a sleep and chiropractic expert and director of the Sleep to Live Institute. Move too quickly and your muscles may spasm and put you at risk for lower back pain or even a slipped or ruptured disk. Another reason to get up slowly: When we stand after lying down for hours, the blood rushes to the legs, and this can cause a lightheaded feeling that puts us at risk for a stumble. This effect, called orthostatic hypotension, is especially common in women, says Alan Hilibrand, MD, a surgeon and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Try this: Before jumping into the shower, Oexman recommends hugging the knees to the chest (one at a time, then together). This will not only help warm up the muscles, but it will also get your blood flowing throughout the body so you'll feel more stable when you rise and shine.
Mistake 2: You keep the window shades down while you get ready for work.
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Blackout shades turn your room into a dark, cozy cave that can help you fall sleep. But their benefits last only until it's time to get up. To help you start your day with a positive mood and to set your internal clock (so that you can wind down later at night), you need sunlight. Letting in those a.m. rays may also help you regulate your weight, found researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Try this: The more light the better, so open the shades all the way as soon as you get out of bed (or, um, as soon as you put on a bathrobe).
Mistake 3: You save your treat until the afternoon.
Most of us work hard, then take a break for personal time at lunch—or more likely around 3 p.m., when we begin to fade. But in a recent study from the University of Minnesota, when employees started the workday in a positive frame of mind, their mood got a bigger boost by pleasant events than if they started out glum and grumpy. They were also less impacted by negative interactions with coworkers, found the researchers.
Try this: Splurge on that latte on your way into the office, or take a few minutes to call your sister or maybe even do a few sun salutations, if you're into that kind of thing—anything to perk up before the day really gets going.
Mistake 4: You set your alarm for 6:47 a.m.
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You've figured out the snooze math: hitting that button equals 10 minutes of extra sleep plus three more minutes to untangle the sheets and get out of bed. But sleeping in and dozing intermittently throws your body off schedule and will make it harder to fall asleep at night. This is why sleep experts curse the invention of that particular bell-and-whistle on most alarm clocks and and beg you not to use it.
Try this: Get up when your alarm goes off, not 10–20 minutes later.
Mistake 5: The first thing you do after waking up is exercise.
You know you're supposed to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up in order to jumpstart your metabolism, but that doesn't seem realistic when you're rushing to make an early-morning Spin class. Skipping the meal, though is a problem. You've been fasting all night and need some carbohydrates to top off your depleted energy stores—especially if you're about to deplete them further at the gym.
Try this: We're not saying you need a bowl of oatmeal with all the fixings. A handful of dry cereal or half a banana on your way to out the door is just fine (and a glass of water, of course, since that last time you drank anything was probably seven hours ago).