“Early to bed and rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This famous adage from Benjamin Franklin isn’t just an old proverb. Many scientific studies back this statement: waking up early and having a morning routine for seniors rewards us with a powerful, happier feeling and a better quality of life.
Wake Up Early, Stay Active Daily
Researchers from the University of Pittsburg reveal that seniors who wake up early and have an active morning routine perform better on cognitive tests. “There’s something about getting going early, staying active all day, and following the same routine each day that seems to protect older adults,” lead author Stephen Smagula states. “What’s exciting about these findings is that activity patterns are under voluntary control, which means that making intentional changes to one’s daily routine could improve health and wellness.”
In their discovery, 37.6% of participating seniors rose early in the morning, stayed active during the day, and had consistent daily routines. These participants woke up before 7 a.m. on average and remained active for 15 hours, the following day in and day out. According to the results, these adults had better cognitive function than other participants.
It’s not just about waking up early. Smagula shares that while most people are aware of the benefits of good sleep and exercise, a pattern of activity keeps seniors truly and purposefully busy. “Having something to wake up for each morning and having a full day that you find purposeful, and rewarding might be important for us sleeping well at night and aging well,” Smagula explains.
How About Late Risers?
It is good to note that some people are not built to wake up early. Scientists recognize the difference in brain functions between early birds, which are used to waking up before the sun rises, and night owls, who stay up late and similarly wake up late.
Most of the time, your circadian rhythm is affected by the demands of your surroundings. When you are still studying or working, you tend to stay up late to comply with your deadlines. Sometimes, you also stay awake deep into the night, watching television, spending time with friends, and participating in other activities that relieve you from stress.
However, things are different when you retire. Life slows down, and the demands of work fade away. This is a chance to catch up to your body’s regular circadian rhythm. How to do that? Here are some tips:
- The Most Straightforward Trick of All: Set the Alarm
Remember when you had to go to the office at a specific, strict hour? To beat that time, you set your alarm clock to wake you up at least an hour earlier, so you can prepare. While there’s no traffic to rush into in your retirement, teaching your body to wake up in the morning will help. Not only will you gain your much-needed Vitamin D, but you also get to finish a lot of your errands at an early hour.
- Waking up Early Is Paired With Sleeping Early
Adults 55 years old and above need 8 hours of sleep. To wake up to your new schedule, you’d want to hit the sack at the hours that complete your sleep cycle. For example, if you’re going to wake up at 6 a.m., you’d want to count backward. Getting to bed at 9 p.m. is most recommended.
- Head Out of the Bedroom as Soon as You Wake Up
The longer you stay in bed after you wake up, the more you want to sleep again. How to avoid that? Get moving as soon as your alarm clock goes off. One trick is to keep your alarm clock at a distance from your bed, so you must stand up and turn it off, making you feel awake. If you’re not used to waking up early, know you can retrain your body gradually. If you are used to waking up at eight in the morning, you can start waking up at seven. Once your body adjusts to your new schedule, you can push the hours further until you find your body’s best waking hours. And if you are taking time to wake into your preferred hours, don’t worry. A new habit may need at least two weeks to get accustomed to.
- Structure Your Day
Waking up early leads to many opportunities. You get a lot of time to accomplish all that you need to do, plus enjoy the benefits of early morning sunlight, the cool air, and the beautiful atmosphere as the day breaks. Once you have established your waking hours, you can begin scheduling the day-to-day activities you may delight in. List your schedule on paper and make it visible from your bed and office.
Sample Morning Routine
- 6:30 AM
Wake up. Rise from the bed and take slow sips of water to activate and wake your body.
- 6:35 AM
Make your bed, open the blinds, and switch from pajamas to day clothes.
- 6:45 AM
Do light stretches. You can do this indoors or hike around the neighborhood or on a nearby walking trail. It’s a great way to welcome the day and admire the sunrise.
- 7:00 AM
Prepare your breakfast. If you like reading the morning newspaper while you eat, feel free to do so. You can also listen to your favorite music or a podcast to liven your senses. Take your morning medicines (if applicable).
- 7:20 AM
Clean the house. Sweep the floor, wash the dishes, tidy the yard, and choose manageable light errands. Walk the dog. Greet your neighbors and the community staff whenever you are outside.
- 7:40 AM
Take a bath and get dressed up for your appointment.
- 8:00 AM
Attend a class of your choice: yoga, baking class, a second language, pottery, or music.
- 11:00 AM
Join a group of friends for brunch. Delight in your favorite meals!
- 12:00 PM
Head back home. It’s time to focus on your quiet artistic activities: art, music, pottery, or writing. Open a journal and write about what you loved during the day. List a few more goals in the afternoon.
The best way to have a successful morning routine? Join a community surrounded by people who have the same thing in mind. Ingleside Retirement Communities encourage you to live the best of your day, every single day! Wake up your happiest by staying with us. Call us at (202) 846-2651 to learn more.