For many, early rising is a goal that’s closely linked to productivity—after all, the more time we have in the a.m., the more tasks we can check off the ol’ to-do list, right? But as it turns out, some of the most profound benefits of waking up at daybreak have nothing to do with hustling.
For one thing, says Molly Maloof, MD, the blue light that’s outside in the early morning gives you a natural energy boost, no caffeine required. “Blue light turns off melatonin production and turns on wakefulness,” she says.
It also sets your body’s circadian clock for the day, priming you for maximum efficiency—particularly when it comes to metabolism. “Your digestive organs are regulated by the hypothalamus through light and the timing of food intake,” says the Silicon Valley-based doc. “In fact, science tells us that early-a.m. light exposure is correlated with lower BMI.”
The blue light that’s outside in the early morning gives you a natural energy boost, no caffeine required.
There’s also a woo-woo argument for setting a pre-dawn alarm. According to kundalini yoga principles, the “ambrosial hours” from 3:30–6 a.m. are the sweet spot of the day when it comes to strengthening and cleansing your mind, body, and spirit.
“The rays [around] sunrise are infrared and attuned to the longer, “theta” dreamtime waves, which is the same state of the brain in deep meditation,” says kundalini instructor Britt Deanda, who co-founded metaphysical coaching and content platform High Vibe Livin with fellow yogi Tara Schulenberg. “It’s a very sacred time and allows you to connect to your higher self and your purpose before the day gets going”.
To get the most out of an early wake-up call, it helps to have a plan in place, or else you might find yourself lingering in bed to watch just one more of last night’s Insta stories. Here, Deanda and Schulenberg have outlined some sunrise rituals that anyone can adopt—whether you have a leisurely couple of hours or 10 minutes to chill before go-time.
Keep reading for 5 early-a.m. rituals that’ll start your summer days off right.
1. Get outside and move
Can’t quite bring yourself to sign up for that sunrise HIIT class? No big deal—even Kayla Itsines isn’t a morning workout person. When it comes to boosting your energy, any kind of movement is totally effective, according to Deanda.
She always starts her day with a good stretch in bed. “Bring your [arms] overhead and pull your hands and feet in opposite directions, then circle your ankles and wrists,” says the yogi. “After that, bring your knees to one side, looking to the opposite direction with your arm stretched out and switching to the other side.”
Once she’s up, Deanda tries to head outside for a walk whenever possible—a smart idea, since Dr. Maloof says direct sunlight is best if you want to reap its full benefits. “If you can, take your shoes off and feel the earth underneath your toes,” says Deanda. “Earthing, as it’s called, has proven benefits that reduce stress, pain, inflammation, and increase your immune function. It also roots you into the ground to prepare for the day.” Science—and the biohacking world—agrees with her.
2. Log your dreams
Schulenberg takes advantage of the mentally expansive, pre-dawn hour by reaching for her journal (or the notepad app on her phone) and jotting down everything she can remember about her dreams.
Why bother? “It’s a great way to begin understanding patterns that are living in your subconscious mind so you can release them,” she says. For instance, if you notice that spiders keep invading your REM cycle, it may be a sign that you’re being called to spin a new story in some area of your life.
3. Tune in
Hardcore kundalini yogis practice something called sadhana every morning, which involves more than two hours of prayer, meditation, mantra, movement, and breathwork. Deanda and Schulenberg say this ritual can be condensed—they’ve created a 15-minute version as part of their six-week Rise Up online course—but even doing just one element of it can be seriously powerful.
For Deanda, the period just before sunrise is her favorite time to meditate. “I find it is easier to do a longer meditation then,” she says. “If I try during another time of day, it’s much harder for me to go deep and cleanse and do the inner work.”
Schulenberg particularly likes listening to kundalini mantras while she’s waking up. “Playing mantras while your conscious mind is still and quiet allows the sound current to penetrate your subconscious mind and reprogram all of your limiting beliefs,” she says. You can find them on Spotify and iTunes—the High Vibe Livin girls are partial to tracks by White Sun and Snatam Kaur.
4. Sip some tea
As Dr. Maloof mentioned before, waking up early is a natural digestion booster. But to kick-start your gut even more effectively, Deanda drinks an herbal tonic each morning—warm tea with lemon-and ginger-infused ice cubes. “The warm water helps to stimulate digestion and metabolism, and the lemon and ginger help loosen toxins in the digestive tract,” she says.
5. Practice gratitude
There’s a reason why just about every spiritual leader has a rock-solid gratitude practice—and why so many women give thanks first thing. “It’s a simple and fast way to align you with the higher vibrations of joy, happiness and freedom,” says Schulenberg. (As opposed to, say, starting your day stressing about your inbox.)
As if that weren’t enough, Schulenberg firmly believes focusing on the good begets more awesomeness. (Basically, the premise of The Secret.) “When your point of attraction is in these higher emotions, you naturally attract more of these emotions and situations,” she says. If that’s the case, consider my snooze alarm permanently disabled.
You can train yourself to be a morning person—here’s how one Well+Good editor did it. And if you need a little assistance, check out this app that wakes you with yoga…all from the comfort of your bed.