aking up on the right side of the bed isn’t just up to chance. Having a solid morning routine can jumpstart your productivity and boost your healthspan by reducing stress and increasing your energy levels (1).
Longevity experts like Peter Attia, M.D., David Sinclair, Ph.D., Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., and Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., stick to strict a.m. protocols to get the most out of their day. You’ll want to steal their tips to optimize your morning routine and live longer.
You probably won’t run into founder of Tally Health and Lifespan podcast host David Sinclair, Ph.D., getting carded at a bar, but if you checked his ID, it says 54. But Sinclair has run his DNA through a biological age test and says it clocks in at 42. His morning routine is just one part of his longevity-boosting and biological age-reducing regime.
Instead of a cup of morning coffee, Sinclair swears by matcha green tea for its protective health benefits.
“I have a green matcha tea, which is full of healthy polyphenols like ECGC catechins — and that’s a cancer-preventative — so I have at least one of those, maybe two,” Sinclair told GQ in a recent interview.
Matcha may also be anti-inflammatory because of a high concentration of antioxidants—compounds that protect against cellular damage from free radicals—according to a 2021 review (2).
Eat yogurt with polyphenols
Sinclair is admittedly polyphenol obsessed. Polyphenols are a compound naturally found in plants that have been found to have protective effects against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes (3). To get a boost, he mixes polyphenols in with a bit of yogurt to start his day.
“The one I’ve talked about a lot is resveratrol. Now, it’s just a couple of mouthfuls of yogurt so it’s not going to break my fast and it’s not considered breakfast by any means,” Sinclair tells GQ. “But it is how I get all my polyphenols in and they dissolve—I’ve been doing that for about 15 years.”
The 84-year-old co-founder of the Institute of Systems Biology and CEO of Phenome Health is a testament to the life- and healthspan-boosting effects of a good morning routine. While most of his peers are well into retirement, Leroy Hood, M.D., Ph.D., keeps himself busy discussing healthcare access with tech giants, representatives, and scientists.
Wake up early
Hood wakes up around 5:30 a.m. every morning and jumps straight into a two-hour stint of project planning and collaborating with his co-workers, according to a recent interview with Popular Mechanics.
People who wake up early may reap benefits like improved cognitive function and reduced depression risk, according to a 2021 study (4).
Looks like it might be time to become a morning person.
Turns out, breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day if you’re trying to boost your longevity. Hood skips the first meal of the day as part of his intermittent fasting routine.
Intermittent fasting may boast longevity-boosting benefits like healthy weight maintenance and reduced risk of chronic illness (5).
BOOST YOUR LONGEVITY
The Drive podcast host, leading longevity doctor, and Taylor Swift stan Peter Attia, M.D., wakes up before the sun. But he doesn’t dive into his work day until he’s completed his chill, but productivity-boosting, morning routine.
Attia gets his mindset in check each morning before checking his email, planning for future podcast episodes, or meeting with patients.
“I use one of two apps, 10% Happier and Waking Up. I usually like to do a lesson and a meditation,” Attia tells Mike Mutzel, M.S., on an episode of the High Intensity Health podcast.
Meditation may produce both physical and mental benefits, according to Harvard University. Researchers found that people who meditate have a lower risk of depression and anxiety, as well as chronic disease.
Attia likes to share a french press coffee with his wife each morning after he meditates.
A morning brew doesn’t just wake you up. Drinking coffee in moderation may also stave off diabetes, help with weight management, and support heart health, according to John Hopkins. But try not to load up your cup of joe with cream and sugar, as those delicious additives may counteract the great benefits of your coffee.
Neuroscientist and Huberman Lab podcast host Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., has brain health on the mind from the second he wakes up. And his morning routine reflects that.
Get some sunlight
If you’ve ever listened to an episode of Huberman Lab, you’d think “View Morning Sunlight!” is the show’s tagline. Huberman is adamant that viewing sunlight in the first few hours after waking up improves your cortisol levels and regulates your circadian clock.
“On a sunny morning, get outside for 5-10 minutes. You can do more if you have time, and feel free to use the time outside to exercise, walk, eat a light breakfast or journal in the sunlight,” he writes in a blog. “Even on overcast days, there is still enough sunlight to trigger positive effects.”
Sunlight exposure may also improve your sexual health by increasing testosterone and libido, according to a 2021 study (6).
Get 30 minutes of zen
“I wake up, and I do an assessment of whether or not I feel rested. Most days the answer is no,” Huberman tells Sam Parr on the My First Million podcast. “So I do a 10 to 30 minute yoga nidra session first thing in the morning.”
He explains that yoga nidra is thought to bring your brain into a state of “pseudo sleep” which helps him feel like he got more Z’s without heading back to bed.
Yoga nidra also helps modulate stress and anxiety and may boost melatonin production, according to the Cleveland Clinic.