The Perfect Morning Routine...According to Neuroscience

Friday, December 30, 2022

I used to jump out of bed in the morning and immediately shake my ass.

Table of Contents

Section 1: Your First 30 Minutes

  • Delayed Coffee Intake
  • ​Brain Waves in the Morning
  • ​Frontal Lobe Circuits
  • ​Auto-Suggestion – Reticular Activating System
  • ​Cold Shower Recovery

Section 2: Your Second 30 Minutes

  • Neural Reconstruction
  • ​The Power of Emotions

Section 3: Your Final 30 Minutes

  • Associative Learning

Section 4: The Perfect Morning Routine

I used to jump out of bed in the morning and immediately shake my ass.

One of the first “self-help” books I’ve ever read was Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. The book is a compilation of interviews with successful people from all different categories who share their tips, tricks and strategies for a successful life.

As I made my way through this monster book, I used myself as a guinea pig to test out many of the strategies in the book.

I tried doing 25 push-ups as soon as I woke up in the morning.

I tried forcing myself to smile for ten minutes every day because a neuroscientist named Stephen Porges recommended it.

I even tried jumping out of bed in the morning and immediately shaking my ass because Joseph McClendon III swore that this was the way to loosen you up and make you excited for the day

In other words, I’ve tried a lot.

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What I was really doing in this human guinea pig process was beginning to find out what works for me.

One of the first things I noticed was that whenever I checked my phone immediately upon waking up, it gave me a hint of laziness to start my day.

It was definitely an automatic habit of mine to wake-up, grab my phone and scroll through my various social media apps and emails…Who else shares this habit?

When I realized this, I made the decision, for one year, I’m going to get right out of bed as soon as I wake-up. No phone. No TV.

And for 365 consecutive days, that’s exactly what I did.

Now, this habit didn’t turn me into a multi-millionaire. It actually produced zero measurable results in my life. But without a doubt, it planted the seed of productivity in my day.

This was the start of my “Perfect Morning Routine,” and over the years, I’ve studied A LOT of science and self-help literature to transform it into what it is today.

After ten years of research and exactly 210 books, THIS is perfect morning routine and the neuroscience behind it all.

The Perfect Morning Routine

  • 30min: Big Glass of Water; Auto-Suggestion; Cold Shower
  • 30min: Neural Reconstruction
  • 30min: Learning

Section 1: Your First 30 Minutes

  • Upon Waking Up, Crush a Big Glass of Water
  • Jump in the Shower (or Cold Tub) and Spend Two Minutes Under the Cold Shower
  • ​Lotion Up and Get Ready for the Day

Delayed Coffee Intake (Don't Panic!)

The first thing I want you to know is that we are not going to drink coffee for the first 90-minutes of your day. When the morning routine is over, you are free to guzzle as much as you’d like (well not-really but we’ll cover that in another newsletter), but the science is clear. 90-minutes of no coffee in the morning is a must.

There is a chemical in your body called adenosine. It is the substance that makes you feel sleepy.

Throughout the day, adenosine builds up in your system. This accumulation begins to hit you in the evening as you begin to feel tired.

When you first wake-up, the adenosine in your body takes 90-120mins to clear out of your system.

Listen to Andrew Huberman discuss this on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Caffeine binds to adenosine and prevents the body from clearing it out.

When the caffeine wears off (usually during the afternoon), you’re left with all of this adenosine which is precisely when the afternoon crash hits your like a ton of bricks.

By waiting 90mins before you drink coffee, you allow the adenosine to clear your system which will dramatically reduce your usual afternoon crash.

That being said, it’s time to start your morning routine.

Brain Waves in the Morning

Throughout your day, your brain cycles through a few different states. We measure this in “brain waves” or hertz (HZ).

Each of these brain wave states corresponds to a different state of alertness.

When you go to the gym, you are alert and ready to crush some weight. This is beta brain waves.

When you first wake up in the morning, you are groggy, still a little sleepy and moving slow. This is alpha or theta waves.

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Every cell in your body has a built-in circadian rhythm. Meaning that its natural cycle of activity is based around the sun.

This natural rhythm is the reason you feel a little groggy in the morning and why you begin to feel sleepy at night. But there is a MAJOR hidden benefit to this rhythm that you can start taking advantage of for your own personal gain.

Following this rhythm, in the morning and the evening, your brain will naturally operate in lower frequency wave patterns (alpha, theta). The reason this is so beneficial is because it opens the door to your subconscious mind.

It allows you to more easily bypass negative, learned habits and thought tendencies and intentionally re-wire your brain with positive habits and thoughts at a MUCH faster clip than if you tried to reprogram your circuits at 3pm.

Frontal Lobe Circuits

Are you familiar with “ping-pong” thoughts? This is when your thoughts bounce back and forth in your brain like a game of ping pong.

One moment you’re thinking about work, the next moment about a cute puppy you saw on TikTok and the following moment you’re thinking about what you’ll have for dinner. Your thoughts are ALL OVER THE PLACE.

This is also why most people say, “I can’t meditate!”

Because of the natural brain wave rhythms that you just learned about, these circuits will be quieter in the morning.

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For our purposes, the frontal lobe of your brain has one job, to shut everyone else up. Its job is to turn down the volume of your ping-pong thoughts and help you focus on what’s most important.

Our natural neural-window in the morning is the perfect time to train your frontal lobe to do this.

Auto-Suggestion – Reticular Activating System

Have you ever bought a new car and suddenly you see it everywhere?

I remember I bought this rare, eccentric, Nike jacket and on my walk home, I saw someone wearing it and I couldn’t believe it!

There is a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) and its job is to make you aware of the most important stimuli in your environment.

At any moment in the day, there is TONS of input coming into your brain. At this very moment, there is probably an air-conditioner, fan, street noise or some other input that you’re not noticing until I point it out.

Your RAS is in charge of drowning that out so you can focus on what’s important (which of course is this masterclass on morning routines)!

What WE want to do, is intentionally decide what is important and tell the RAS. If we don’t do it ourselves, who knows what it will focus on.

I want to be rich.

I want to drive a Mercedes.

I want the West Virginia Mountaineers to win the College Football Playoff (OK, gunna need more than my frontal lobe for this one).

So those are things I will tell it to focus on…my goals!

When you “auto-suggest” your goals to yourself and repeat them over and over and over again, YOU are deciding what your RAS will focus on.

When you do this during the natural neural window in the morning, it dramatically speeds up the process of success.

Now, your RAS will turn its attention to the world to find the answers to your problems.

Cold Shower Recovery

When I worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks, we had both hot and cold tubs in our training facility. After the day was done, we (the training staff) would often get in to the tubs.

Sometimes we would do all cold.

Sometimes we would alternate with a contrast.

I often asked what it was that this was supposed to do and I got a variety of responses.

I was told “it helps with recovery.”

I was told “it squeezes the blood vessels when you do the contrast.”

I was told “it increases testosterone.”

But the only real reason that I do the cold immersion in the morning is because it makes me feel fucking fantastic.

I’ve found that 2 minutes in a cold shower or cold tub will give you HOURS of legitimate energy.

In my profession, there are many things labeled as a “game-changer,” but most of the time you really don’t feel any different. This is an exception to that.

If you spend two minutes in freezing cold water, you will feel absolutely sensational when you get out. Science aside, that’s why I do it.

Section 2: Your Second 30 Minutes

  • ​Spend 20-30 Minutes Meditating and Re-Wiring Your Brain

Neural Re-Construction

As I type this, I am sitting in the lobby of the Gansevoort Hotel in Manhattan. In front of me is a wealthy looking man on his laptop. He has long, black hair, with a turtleneck and some khakis on.

To my left is a young family. A mom and two daughters. One of the daughters is wearing a blue bucket hat and is playing games on her phone while the other daughter sips orange juice.

Everything I am looking at is just neuroscience. It’s all just connections in the brain.

Every thought. Every action. Every decision is just wires in the brain.

The actions that you perform frequently become prioritized by the brain and a fatty substance called myelin begins to form on the outside of these wires. This speeds up the connections and makes them easier to use these wires.

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See the padding around the neuron on the top image? That's myelin. You can see the speed of the signal is much quicker.

These myelinated neurons become like super-highways in the brain.

Now, whenever you come to a point of decision, your brain will always take the path of least resistance…the myelinated road.

As a high-achiever, you often come to these points of decision. Should I work on my advertising or should I play video games?

Well, if you are a chronic procrastinator like most people, those wires will be the most myelinated and will be the easiest to use.

What we want you to do is to CHOOSE what wires you want to prioritize.

Do you want to be energetic?

Do you want to exercise more?

Do you want to stop procrastinating?

All of this is just a matter of disconnecting some wires and connecting others…and repeating it enough times to signal myelination.

During the natural, morning neural window, it is significantly easier to detach bad wires and connect good ones.

You’ve also been tuning up your frontal lobe with your goals via auto-suggestion and turning off the ping-pong thoughts.

You are now prioritizing the loudest voice in your head…the only voice in your head…your goals.

The Power of Emotions

During the meditation, your goal should be to mentally rehearse the activities that you will do once you’ve already accomplished your goals.

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I use a product called NuCalm that uses binaural beats to help me meditate in the right brain wave state

But this is not some woo-woo positive thinking, Tony Robbins seminar. This is science.

Is it true that you must become…

  • Skilled Enough
  • ​Talented Enough
  • ​Smart Enough
  • ​Productive Enough
  • ​Energetic Enough

…in order to accomplish your goals?

If so, isn’t it true that you must become…

  • Skilled Enough
  • ​Talented Enough
  • ​Smart Enough
  • ​Productive Enough
  • ​Energetic Enough

…BEFORE your goal is achieved…otherwise you’re just a dumb, lazy, un-productive “want-repreneur.”

This means that you must become the person AHEAD of the event.

A GREAT Podcast on the Neuroscience of Meditation. Dr. Joe Dispenza demystifies the mystical.

You must become the person capable of your goals and the outcome becomes automatic.

In biology, when an experience happens, it releases a chemical. That chemical is called an emotion.

The role of an emotion is to create an action.

Ex. When I was 10, I ate Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets and got a massive headache. Today, when I see a Wendy’s I feel that emotion and it deters me from getting their tasty chicken nuggets.

The action, then creates the result.

You are reading this because you want to change a result.

With this understanding, you now know that to change the result, you must change the emotion first.

But it’s super hard to feel like you’ve accomplished your goals before it actually happens. This is why most people wait for their success to happen before they change. This is also why no one ever changes.

Lucky for you, the brain cannot tell the difference between thinking about an event and an event actually happening.

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When you sit down and mentally rehearse your success before it happens, you are literally re-wiring your brain, disconnecting negative wires and evolving into YOU 2.0.

Section 3: Your Final 30 Minutes

  • ​Spend the Remaining Time Learning

Associative Learning

The neocortex is a part of the brain that operates based on stored associations. It’s kinda like the filing cabinet of the brain with all your memories in there.

This is associative learning.

We took something that you already know (the filing cabinet) and built your new knowledge of the neocortex off of it.

This new knowledge forms a brand-new connection in the brain literally branching off of your connection for filing cabinets.

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When you learn something new, a new connection builds off of a previous connection, just like what you see happening here.

Next week, if someone asks you about the neocortex, the entire neural network will light up and you’ll think about the brain then the filing cabinet and whatever else is connected in that neural network.

The more baseline connections that you have, the easier it will be for you to learn new things because now there are millions of neurons to build new connections off of.

At this point in the morning, you are going to spend the remaining time building those connections.

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I've read exactly 210 books in trying to learn about human performance and business.

Take out a book, watch some informational videos and feed your mind brand new neural connections each morning.

The Perfect Morning Routine...

  • ​Wake-Up
  • ​Crush a Big Glass of Water
  • ​Begin to Repeat Your Goal to Yourself (Auto-Suggestion) to Tune Up Your Reticular Activating System (RAS) and Get Your Frontal Lobe to Turn Down the Volume to Distracting, Ping-Pong thoughts.
  • ​Jump in a Cold Shower or Cold Tub for 2-Minutes Because it Feels Absolutely Sensational
  • ​Dry Off, Throw Some Fancy Lotion On (There’s Science to Why It Should Be Fancy Lotion But We Will Cover That Another Time).
  • ​Sit Down for 20-30min and Mentally Rehearse Your Success…Work Hard to Feel the Emotion (No one said this was going to be easy!)
  • ​For the Remaining Time, Learn…Build New Neural Networks.
  • ​After 90mins, Fire Up the Keurig and Brew a Gigantic Cup of Coffee…the Adenosine Has Now Cleared Your System
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Sean Light


Sean is the Founder and CEO of Weight Room Wealth, 4A Health & Performance Sciences Investment Group and former Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.

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