The Morning Routine That's Messing Up Your Entire Life, According To Research

It's such a common habit, but it's actually harmful!

woman stretching in pajamas O. Kalacheva/ Shutterstock

The first step in my morning routine every single day is to check my phone and my social media as soon as I wake up.

It's one of those bad smartphone habits I cannot shake, and while it always makes me feel like trash, I continue to do the same exact thing every single day.

This is because, like so many other people, my phone has become an all-purpose device with which I manage my life and one of the many delightful functions it serves is working as my alarm clock.


In fact, if it weren't for the alarm on my phone, I probably would have lost roughly every single job I have ever had.

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Of course, once I turn off my alarm, I immediately look at my email and text messages, as well as my notifications from social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and so on.


You might think that my having established a solid morning routine like this would make me feel happier, more productive, and more pulled together than I otherwise would, but, unfortunately, it doesn't really seem to work that way.

As it turns out, however, I'm not as odd a duck as I thought when it comes to this nasty daily habit.

Studies have shown this to be a fairly typical phenomenon, particularly among millennials. Both the practice and the negative feelings it elicits have become so commonplace that doctors and lifestyle experts are now weighing in on the subject.

Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi, a psychiatrist in White Plains, NY, told Elite Daily in 2018 that "immediately turning to your phone when you wake up can start your day off in a way that is more likely to increase stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed."


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Well, that explains the creeping sense of dread I get while looking at my phone just after hitting snooze.

And to make matters even more splendrous, that isn't even the full of extent of the havoc peeping at your iPhone or Android first thing in the a.m. can wreak upon you.

"The information overload that hits [you] before you're fully awake also interferes with your ability to prioritize tasks," Dr. Benders-Hadi explains.

You might understandably think that starting off your day by reviewing your upcoming tasks and notifications makes sense, but research shows this habit actually sets you up for failure from the get-go.


Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of the Center For Humane Technology, further explains, "When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications — it frames the experience of 'waking up in the morning' around a menu of 'all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.' By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we’re given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.

The problem seems unlikely to go away anytime soon.

In 2013, AdWeek reported that when asked what they do first upon waking up in the morning, 80 percent of smartphone users between the ages of 18 and 44 answered, "Check my smartphone."

And to make matters somewhat more disconcerting, the same study found that "79% of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day; 63% keep it with them for all but one hour. A full quarter of respondents couldn’t recall a single time of the day when their phone wasn’t in the same room as them."


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Your phone can be a powerful tool, but it can also be a crutch. This is stuff we already knew.

But did you have any clue that these tools designed to make us so much more well-organized could actually contribute to making us feel LESS focused and LESS likely to accomplish our goals and dreams?

If you want to break your own morning ritual of automatically reaching for your phone, don't worry, I've got you covered.

To begin, stop using your phone as your alarm clock. Sure, it's an easy feature to use, but it's also part of the reason so many of us wind up clutching our phones first thing in the morning.


Kick it old school and use a basic alarm clock. They are exceptionally cheap, plus every guy you bring home will be like, "This girl is so retro and unique, but like, in a sexy Zooey Deschanel kind of way."

You won't only reverse courses away from your current daily routine of self-sabotage, but you may even find your one true love in the process.

Frankly, it doesn't get much better than that now, does it?

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.