Should You Follow Andrew Huberman's Morning Routine?

When Andrew Huberman wakes up in the morning, he doesn't leave anything to chance (or at least, not on most days). As a leading neuroscientist and researcher at Stanford University and host of the renowned Huberman Lab Podcast that’s ranked as the #1 health podcast in the world, he's honed in on the science behind starting the day right. It's not just about getting out of bed; it's about crafting a morning routine that sets the stage for a productive day.

Why a morning routine is important

Amidst social media, emails, texts, and news notifications, it may feel as if we're constantly being pulled in different directions. However, think of morning routines as a lifeline. They give us a sense of control in the chaos, a chance to start the day on solid ground. When we stick to a regular morning routine, we're not just going through the motions — we're building habits that can keep us healthy and energized. Plus, a good morning routine can help us sleep better, think clearer, and better handle whatever comes our way throughout the day.

Do you have to be a researcher or science geek to make it work for you? Not quite. Huberman’s morning habits are based on practical wisdom anyone can use. Hence, why many people have copied and tested his routine in their own lives. And while everyone's different, even if you don't follow his routine to a T, many aspects can benefit you in various ways. So, let’s take a look at the secrets of Huberman's morning routine and how it can transform your day.

What’s Andrew Huberman's morning routine?

From a consistent sleep schedule and morning sunlight to delaying caffeine by at least 90 minutes after waking up, at the center of Huberman’s morning routine is harnessing the power of circadian rhythms and natural physiological responses.

He emphasizes exposure to natural light upon waking to regulate his internal clock, ensuring better sleep quality and mood regulation. Hydration and nutrient intake play a big role, kickstarting his metabolism and promoting physical and mental well-being. Meditation acts as a buffer against stress and enhances focus, while exercise strengthens both body and mind. Culminating with cold exposure, Huberman primes his cognitive function, invigorates his senses, and fortifies his resilience for the day ahead.

Waking up early

Huberman wakes up every day between 6–6:30 a.m. By going to bed around 10–11 p.m., he ensures he gets at least seven hours of shut-eye, which is essential for optimal recovery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Science has shown that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, is one of the most important things you can do to improve your sleep quality and your body's recovery process. A systemic review of a total of 41 articles published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism concluded that earlier sleep timing was favorably associated with health, and consistent bedtimes and wake-up times showed beneficial health outcomes among adults.

Such regular sleep and wake times are key from a circadian rhythm standpoint because our bodies thrive on consistency. Plus, it helps sync our body's internal clock with the natural rhythms of day and night. Our circadian rhythm, or internal clock, regulates several physiological processes and hormonal cascades that impact a myriad of things, such as hunger, alertness, and energy levels.

If you can’t help but hit snooze more often than not, however, don’t get discouraged. The body will adapt with time, and you can gradually train yourself to go to bed and wake up earlier by setting your alarm a little bit earlier each day. It's all about finding what works best for you.

Getting exposure to natural light

In several podcast episodes, Huberman emphasizes that he makes a beeline to get at least 10–15 minutes of natural light exposure without sunglasses right after waking up. He says it should be closer to 30 minutes if it's a cloudy day. All that within the first three hours of waking up.

He says it’s the single best thing you can do for your sleep and mood to get bright natural light early in the day. It sets in motion a long list of neurobiological and hormonal cascades that are good for you, from helping to reduce stress at night, offset cortisol, and ramp up melatonin production at night, priming you for a good night's sleep.

If you live in an area where bright sunny days are rare or in Alaska, where there is 24-hour darkness for about two months in the winter, you can still hack your light exposure. Getting exposed to as much bright indoor artificial light as possible in the morning will help signal your body’s natural clock that it’s time to wake up.

Hydration

Hydrate before caffeinate may be a good mantra to stand by, and it's one that Huberman follows daily. However, he doesn’t drink just pure water. To replenish electrolytes and minerals, he adds either a pinch of sea salt or an electrolyte packet to his morning H2O.

Then, only after 90–120 minutes of waking up does he reach for that morning cup of yerba mate, a caffeinated herbal tea. Why does he have such a strict order and timing in place? It all comes down to supporting the body’s natural processes that take place upon waking up.

Our bodies are often dehydrated after a night of sleep, so drinking electrolyte-fueled water first thing in the morning helps kickstart the metabolism and replenish lost fluids and minerals. Research has shown that staying hydrated not only boosts physical performance but also enhances cognitive function, mood, and overall well-being. According to scientific literature, even mild dehydration, a body water loss of 1–2%, can impair cognitive performance.

If one of the first drinks you reach for in the morning is a coffee or energy drink, it’s worth noting why Huberman delays it by up to two hours. It all comes down to cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate energy levels and wakefulness throughout the day. Cortisol levels naturally peak in the morning, giving us a natural energy boost. When you drink coffee too early after waking up, it can interfere with this natural cortisol release and lead to a dependency on caffeine to feel awake.

By waiting until your cortisol levels naturally start to decline, usually around 90–120 minutes after waking, you're allowing your body to maintain its natural rhythm and avoid disrupting your sleep-wake cycle. Plus, you'll likely find that your caffeine has a more potent effect when you really need it later in the morning.

Meditation

Huberman’s go-to meditation is similar to yoga nidra. He calls it non-sleep deep rest, which he says has been shown to help restore lost sleep and improve mood. If he feels that he didn’t get a restful sleep, he may do a 10-minute session in the morning by listening to a YouTube video with his eyes closed. He may also use this trick to take a break in the afternoon to overcome the 2–3 p.m. energy slump.

The benefits of a consistent meditation practice go back thousands of years, and with advanced research techniques, scientists have now been able to measure it and understand why. Research has found that it's been linked to improvements in red blood cell counts and blood glucose levels, as well as hormonal balance. Brain imaging has shown that yoga nidra may impact the central nervous system by increasing the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, and improving blood flow in the brain. Furthermore, yoga nidra has been found to decrease symptoms of mild depression and anxiety and improve mood.

If you’re curious how it may impact you, try this brief 10-minute session guided by Huberman and see how you get on.

Exercise

Regular exercise is a non-negotiable for Huberman, and he jumps right in as soon as the yerba mate kicks in. His workout routine consists of weight training every other day and cardio in between, occasionally doubling up on strength training days or rest days as needed.

He doesn’t just play it by ear what he’s going to work out on any given day. He follows a structured approach to his weight training, alternating between the push-and-pull technique to target different muscle groups. His workouts typically start with a 10-minute warm-up followed by 40–45 minutes of intense effort. In a podcast interview, he emphasized the importance of not overdoing it during weight training sessions, as excessive strain can hinder recovery and progress.

On his off days from weight training, Huberman engages in cardio exercises, such as jogging or skipping rope, for 30–45 minutes. He also incorporates unconventional techniques like wearing a weighted vest or walking backward uphill to challenge different muscle groups and add variety to his routine. This balanced approach to exercise allows Huberman to maintain consistency and make steady progress toward his goals.

Whether you already lead an active lifestyle or are just getting started, remember to make it your own and be patient to figure out what works for you best. There’s no need to jump straight into heavy training, as that may increase your risk for injury. Even small but consistent steps toward physical activity will accrue many benefits.

Research has found that physical activity may help improve mental health, cardiovascular and metabolic function, and decrease your risk of developing non-communicable diseases, which, according to the World Health Organization, are responsible for 74% of all deaths globally.

Breaking his fast with a healthy meal

Up until the end of his workout, Huberman is in a fast state. To break his fast, refuel, replenish glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and support overall recovery, he first has some oatmeal, fruit, and a protein drink along with a fish oil supplement.

Then, only about 90–120 minutes later, does he eat what he often refers to as his 'real lunch' — his biggest meal of the day. It may consist of a steak, salad, some type of starch, and a serving of Brazil nuts. He says he loves food, so this meal can stretch way past just a quick bite.

Prioritizing whole foods, fresh ingredients, and a balanced ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates in the form of starches and fiber will fuel Huberman through the rest of the afternoon. These meals also support a healthy blood sugar balance, which is key to avoiding an energy rollercoaster of glucose highs and lows.

Cold exposure

Deliberate cold exposure has been a hot topic. From taking cold showers and investing in at-home ice plunges to jumping in an icy lake, this frosty trend has taken the health and wellness industry by storm. As its popularity grew, so did the number of studies on its health benefits.

Research has found that cold water immersion may help reduce body fat and improve insulin sensitivity, which could help protect against cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other metabolic disorders. Plus, it may help improve mental resilience and mood. Huberman often talks about how deliberate cold exposure causes a prolonged release of the feel-good hormone dopamine.

Huberman takes a cold plunge for about one to three minutes sometime in the morning before his workout. On some days, however, he may just take an early morning cold shower. He recommends a total of 11 minutes of cold exposure per week at a temperature that’s cold enough but safe. However, not all at once. Aim for two to four sessions lasting between one to five minutes each distributed across the week.

Hard cognitive task

One might wonder, what does he do for up to two hours between waking up, walking for 10–15 minutes outside, and having caffeine? In a podcast interview, Huberman shared that he finds pleasure in overcoming cognitive challenges, and tackling one every day is a priority. Thus, he makes an effort to minimize distractions in the morning, avoiding emails and social media, turning off his phone, and keeping it out of the room. This allows him to put his brain into 'linear mode,'​​ focusing on one task that requires his full attention, such as reading a research article or planning a podcast episode.

Is Andrew Huberman's morning routine for you?

Every morning presents us with a choice of setting the tone for the day ahead. Andrew Huberman's evidence-based morning routine serves as an example of how simple habits can lead to profound results. However, it's essential to recognize that what works for one person may not work for another. Much like there’s no one-size-fits-all diet or exercise routine, there’s no one-size-fits-all morning routine.

We are all unique individuals with different needs and preferences, and it's up to each of us to discover our morning routine recipe. Huberman's routine offers scientifically proven guidance that can help us in this journey, but ultimately, it's about finding what resonates with you.

By establishing a morning routine that aligns with our goals and priorities, we may gain control over our day instead of letting it control us. It becomes a time for self-care, intentionality, and preparation, setting the stage for a day that runs on your terms.

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