There's a new study out in the Journal of Health Psychology that offers some insight into how to make a healthy habit stick for good. If you're trying to create a new routine, you increase your odds of success by tackling tasks or performing new rituals first thing in the morning rather than at night.
The study followed 48 students over 90 days while they tried to create a stretching routine. Half of the students were told to complete their series of stretches in the morning, the other group was to complete them at night. The participants then filled out a survey via an app and had salivary measurements taken every 30 days.
The morning team picked up the routine more quickly than the evening team and by using a predictive curve they expected that the morning group would achieve "automaticity" almost 50 days earlier than the evening group. The researchers noticed that people's cortisol levels were generally higher in the morning, a factor they think may have played a significant part in the AM folks adapting to their new behavior with more ease. As pointed out in Southern Living, they are reticent to attribute it entirely to cortisol levels: "it is possible that the behavior was perceived as less difficult, more satisfying, or more easily cued in the morning than in the evening."
More research is needed to see if the findings can be applied to other habits and activities, but for now it certainly can't hurt to add a good habit or two to your morning routine.
Making the most of your mornings:
- Live Your Best Life: Wellness Experts Share Their Morning & Evening Routines for Healthy, Stress-free Days
- When You Wake Up Doesn't Matter, But How You Wake Up Does
- A Real Life Exercise Diary: What Happened When I Started Going on Walks Every Morning
- Pick the Morning Routine That's Right For You...and Give It a Try Tomorrow
- Do You Want to Love Getting Dressed in the Morning?
h/t Southern Living