Why You Should Get Up Early:
By Laird Hamilton
Almost every guy I look up to – everyone whose life is an example of how to live – is an early riser. All of them wake up in the dark, and they're just revved and ready to go. To me, there's nothing worse than waking up and realizing that the sun's already been up for awhile. I feel like I've missed out, like I'm only getting three-quarters of the day.
I subscribe to the idea that energy perpetuates energy, and nothing makes you more tired than sleeping in or sleeping too much. If I don't get a chance to work out first thing in the morning, my whole day sort of goes awry. Not everyone has the chance to exercise in the morning, but it's still the best time to do it – not only because we're well rested, but because if we burn off some energy first thing, we'll be less restless and better able to concentrate for the remainder of the day. Besides, we're just better equipped to do anything physically demanding in the morning. Our hormone levels peak early. Cortisol, for example, a stress-reducing hormone produced in the adrenal gland, spikes at 7 a.m. Testosterone levels are highest around then, too. (Maybe that's why it's also a great time to have sex.)
Any undertaking that's going to require your full focus – a stressful task, a journey, a physical challenge – you're probably better off starting first thing in the morning. I know I always perform my best in the morning. And that doesn't mean I haven't surfed well in the afternoon, but my energy, my ability to go for a long period of time and to perform at a high level is better in the morning. But I've never compromised on sleep. Even when I was young and would run around, when it was time to go, it was time to go. I didn't care how cute she was or what my friends were up to – I was never one to stay up all night. Some people say that every hour of sleep you get before midnight is equal to two, and I believe them.
LAIRD'S MORNING RITUAL
The first thing I do in the morning is take a hot shower to wake myself up and shake off the slumber and stiffness that accumulates during the night. Then, before I eat anything, I drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice and salt – just a quarter-teaspoon of Himalayan mineral salt and as much as a whole lemon. It's like a warm, liquid cleanse, and it purges you right away. But it also sets up my stomach for the espresso and the protein smoothie that come next. You don't want to put coffee on an empty stomach – too much acid. Besides, coffee is an appetite suppressant so I don't want to have it right before I eat the most important meal of the day. Then, I almost always do a variation on the same few stretches: I reach up with my hands high overhead and arch my back, stretching the fascia in the whole front of the body and gazing back beyond my hands. Dogs put their paws out in front of them to arch their backs when they wake up and so should we. It stretches the chest, the hip flexors, the whole front of the body. I also do a quick side stretch by interlocking my hands behind my head with elbows out and standing with my heels together: I alternate, bringing each elbow down to each side, to open up the whole upper body. Then I'm stoked to start the day.