There’s no one morning routine that works for everyone.
Maybe yours involves reading the news, or guzzling water, or dancing to pop music in your underwear. No judgment.
That said, there are certain morning mistakes that can set the stage for an unproductive rest of the day.
We checked out what scientists and other experts had to say about making the most (and the least) of the first few minutes after you wake up.
Below, we’ve rounded up seven common wake-up behaviors that you’ll want to avoid.
- Phalinn Ooi/flickr
1. Hit the snooze button
Sometimes (OK, all the time) your alarm goes off and you are just not ready to face the day yet. Resist the temptation to put off the inevitable by five or 10 minutes.
As sleep expert Timothy Morgenthaler told Business Insider’s Jessica Orwig, “Most sleep specialists think that snooze alarms are not a good idea.”
That’s partly because, if you fall back into a deep sleep after you hit the snooze button, you’re entering a sleep cycle you definitely won’t be able to finish. So you’ll likely wake up groggy instead of refreshed.
A better bet? Figure out how much sleep you need on a nightly basis and make sure to get that amount.
2. Stay curled up
So you avoided the snooze (congrats!) and now you’re lying awake in bed. Use this time to make yourself as big as possible – physically.
According to Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy, stretching out wide is a way to build confidence as you launch into your day.
Though it’s hard to say whether people feel good because they stretch out or vice versa, Cuddy explained during a talk at New York’s 92Y that the people who wake up with their arms in a V “are super happy, like annoyingly happy.”
By contrast, she said there’s some preliminary evidence that people who wake up in a fetal ball “wake up much more stressed out.”
3. Check email
If you sleep near your phone (and most Americans do), it’s easy to roll over and start mindlessly scrolling through your inbox.
Don’t do it.
“Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders and problems are endless,” she said. “There is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.”
Instead, Morgenstern suggests that if you’re going to do some work, make it a project that requires considerable focus.
- Flickr/Serene Vannoy
4. Leave your bed unmade
Why make your bed? You’re just going to mess it up when you sleep in it later.
Again, it’s unclear whether making your bed causes you to be more productive or if super-organized people are more likely to make their bed.
But Duhigg writes that making your bed is a “keystone habit” that can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.”
5. Drink coffee
If you think you can’t function until you’ve downed a cup of joe, think again.
Your body naturally produces higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which regulates energy, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. So for most people, the best time to drink coffee is after 9:30 a.m.
If you consume caffeine before then, your body will start adjusting by producing less cortisol in the early morning – meaning you’ll be creating the problem you fear.
- Flickr/Sean McGrath
6. Get ready in the dark
Keeping the lights off and the shades down might seem like a softer way to transition into the day.
Yet your internal body clock is designed to be sensitive to light and darkness, Natalie Dautovich of the National Sleep Foundation told The Huffington Post. So getting ready in the dark could signal to your body that it’s still nighttime and could make you feel even groggier.
If it’s still dark outside when you wake up, Dautovich recommends turning on a strong light, like the ones used to treat seasonal affective disorder.
- Flickr / Marco Arment
7. Play it by ear
Maybe you’ll sip some water. Maybe you’ll listen to some tunes. Maybe you’ll call a friend.
These activities, in and of themselves, are fine – but it’s best if you incorporate them into some kind of routine. As in: Wake up, drink water while listening to music, get dressed, and call a friend on the way to the train.
Scientists say our willpower is limited, and when we expend it early on in the day trying to decide what to do next, we have less left later in the day when we need to concentrate on work.
Instead, let your brain run on automatic in the morning and conserve those mental resources for when you really need them.