Apps that wake you up at an ideal time? Heated floors? Yawn. According to these experts, including a baker and a morning-news anchor, it’s the simple things that are truly eye-opening.

By Rebecca Webber
Updated February 09, 2016
Ben Wiseman
Ben Wiseman

Do Something Fun, First Thing.

Bad mornings aren’t necessarily from unrefreshing sleep; they exist because we dread starting our day—dealing with our commute, going to work. For many of my patients, doing something pleasant at the outset helps a lot. You need transition time between sleep and getting out the door. There’s a name for it: sleep inertia. Your brain is literally booting up. So get up earlier, have a cup of coffee—it’s a stimulant; it helps—and watch 30 minutes of your favorite show. Listen to a podcast or paint your nails. Do something you really like. And don’t hit snooze! It doesn’t make you feel better, because those snippets of sleep are interrupted. You’re better off just sleeping a little longer if you need it.
—Kelly Glazer Baron, PH.D., a specialist in behavioral sleep medicine, a clinical psychologist in the sleep program, and an assistant professor of neurology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Mimic the Quakers.

They have a wonderful phrase called “centering down.” It’s about being silent and reflecting on life. They do it when they first gather in a meeting house. I try to start my day with 10 to 20 minutes of quiet time, where I read something from the Bible or Desmond Tutu or another writer I admire and pray for the needs of family, friends, or bakery customers. In the last few minutes, I think about what challenges I might face that day: personnel conflicts or business relation-ships I need to address. When I don’t have that morning quiet time and I just gulp down the day with no preparation, things always seem to be discombobulated.
—Gerald Matthes, founder of the Give Thanks Bakery & Cafe, in Rochester, Michigan. He lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Do Everything the Night Before.

I have to be at work at 3 A.M. Preparation the night before saves me. Even when I’m dead tired—and I have a new baby, so I usually am—I shower, lay out my clothes and jewelry, and even put bags in the car that I know I need for work. When my alarm goes off at 2:30 A.M., all I have to do is brush my teeth, put my hair in a ponytail, put on my dress and some boots, and I’m out the door. If I’m organized, I’m less stressed.
—Ariane Aramburo, the morning anchor and the executive producer of The Morning Edition, at KTUU, the NBC affiliate in Anchorage, Alaska.

Set Timers.

Kids (and some adults) need to learn how to get through their morning routines in a certain amount of time. If your kids take 30 minutes to eat their breakfast, everything’s thrown off. Set alarms on your phone, or use a kitchen timer to alert everyone when to move on to the next task. For forgetful kids, stick a Post-it note next to the timer telling them what to do when the alarm goes off: Go brush your teeth! For older kids, use a big analog clock. With my family, I would put the Post-it where the hands would be—at 7:10, a note to brush teeth. It really helped them grasp the pas-sage of time and got us out the door much faster in the morning.
—Asha Dornfest, author of Parent Hacks. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Pamper yourself.

Flower harvesting on the farm needs to happen very early, so I get up at 5 A.M. But I think of it as a sacred time of self-care. First I write down any dreams I can remember in my journal. I drink apple cider vinegar in warm water to hydrate. I drink coffee and read or sometimes even look at family photo albums. I rinse my face and apply Dr Haushka’s Melissa Day Cream. Melissa is lemon balm, and the smell has a very uplifting quality. At the farm, we always invite visitors to put their noses into the lemon-balm plants and take a deep breath. Herbalists say it can help relieve depres-sion and tension.
—Shannon Algiere, the flower and herb manager at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, in Pocantico Hills, New York.