Written by Joseph Claussen, Co-Founder
About the Author:
Joseph has 20+ years of leadership experience in high-touch luxury industries. For the past five years, he has worked exclusively on mycology & plant medicine supply chain development with a focus on mushroom cultivation and extraction, nutrition science, health coaching, cognitive health, metabolic function, and product development in CPG supplements. Joseph is an avid speaker and cognitive health evangelist.
A structured and consistent morning routine can profoundly impact the health of your brain. The concept of the 5 AM Club was popularized by Robin Sharma, a Canadian author, leadership expert, and motivational speaker. He introduced this idea in his book titled "The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life." In the book, Sharma advocates for waking up at 5:00 AM or earlier to invest the first hour of the day in personal development and self-improvement activities. The actual timing of the 5am club can be modified to suit your lifestyle. For you it may be the 6am or 9am club, but the important takeaway is to dedicate the first hour of the day for yourself. Don’t wake up and immediately start checking your phone or email.
Consistent Sleep-Wake Cycle: Synchronizing with Circadian Rhythms
Aligning with the 5 AM Club means embracing a consistent sleep-wake cycle. This isn't just about getting up early; it's about syncing with your circadian rhythms. The science is clear: regular sleep patterns optimize neuroplasticity, supporting your brain's capacity to adapt and learn.
Early Morning Sunlight Exposure: Light as a Neurotransmitter
The morning sun is a biological imperative. Exposure to natural light at this time regulates melatonin production, fine-tuning your internal clock. The result? Improved mood, heightened alertness, and a brain primed for peak performance.
Mindfulness and Meditation: Hacking the Prefrontal Cortex
Mindfulness and meditation, staples of the 5 AM Club, aren't just for spiritual enlightenment. These practices fire up the prefrontal cortex, the brain's command center. By engaging this region, you're optimizing decision-making, reducing stress, and fostering an environment ripe for cognitive enhancement.
Physical Exercise: Neurovascular Symphony
Exercise isn't just a physical endeavor; it's a neurovascular symphony. Regular physical activity enhances blood flow to the brain, releases neurotrophic factors, and sparks the growth of new neurons. Your morning workout is a direct investment in the neurochemistry of success.
Reduced Stress Levels: The Cortisol Conundrum
Chronic stress is the arch-nemesis of optimal brain function. Integrate stress management practices into your morning routine—whether it's journaling or conscious breathing—to tame cortisol levels. By doing so, you're creating an environment conducive to clarity, focus, and peak cognitive performance.
Nutrient Intake and Hydration: Brain Fuel 101
Your morning routine isn't complete without a nutritious breakfast and hydration. Omega-3s, antioxidants, and essential vitamins are the brain's fuel. What you consume in the morning plays a pivotal role in supporting cognitive processes, ensuring your brain operates at its peak. For breakfast, I typically eat two pasture raised eggs, 1 avocado, and a second protein source, often leftover steak, chicken, or fish from dinner the night before. My go to for morning hydration is a glass of coconut water to which I add 4g of creatine.
Why I include Creatine daily:
- Improved Cognitive Performance: Some studies suggest that creatine supplementation may lead to improvements in cognitive performance, particularly in tasks that require short-term memory and reasoning abilities. This could be due to enhanced energy availability for brain cells.
- Neuroprotective Effects: Creatine has been studied for its potential neuroprotective effects. It may help protect the brain against oxidative stress and excitotoxicity, both of which can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.
- Increased ATP Levels: Creatine supplementation can lead to an increase in overall ATP levels in the brain. ATP is the primary energy currency of cells, and higher ATP levels can support various cellular functions and signaling pathways.
- Antioxidant Properties: Creatine exhibits antioxidant properties, helping to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage in the brain. This antioxidant effect may contribute to neuroprotection.
- Potential for Mental Health: Research suggests that creatine supplementation may have positive effects on conditions such as depression and anxiety. Creatine's impact on neurotransmitter levels and cellular energy may play a role in mental health.
My Daily Routine
My morning routine is broken down into 15-20 minute segments. Upon waking, before even getting out of bed, I do 2-5 min of focused mindful deep breathing exercises, while setting my mindset to one of gratitude. Gratitude for just being alive, for breathing, for the opportunities that the day will provide. Starting your day with thoughts of gratitude creates a positive mindset, which helps you stay focused and positive throughout the day.
I then get out of bed drink a glass of water, and do some basic stretching and movement exercises while making my cup of tea or coffee. This stretching routine is based on basic yoga sun salutation and incorporates pushups into the routine. Morning exercise positively impacts the brain by increasing blood flow, promoting the release of neurotransmitters, supporting the growth of neurons, reducing stress, improving sleep, enhancing mood, and regulating neurotransmitter receptors. This combination of effects contributes to a healthier and more balanced neurochemical environment in the brain.
While drinking my tea/coffee, I like to sit and journal, just writing my thoughts on what I am grateful for, things I want to accomplish for the day, and any new creative concepts that come to mind.
After journaling, I spend 5-15 minutes in quiet meditation. Sometimes I use a guided meditation, but often just sit eyes closed focused on my breath and letting whatever thought come and go in my mind. If a particular thought starts running away in my mind, I just return to focusing on the breath. Meditation is a practice, that when done consistently gets easier to practice. When I first started, I struggled to meditate for 5 min, now I can easily sit in meditation for 15-20 minutes. It’s not important how long you meditate, just as long as you start the practice and stay consistent.
Diving into intellectual pursuits during your morning ritual isn't just about expanding your knowledge; it's a neuroscience hack. Learning and challenging your brain stimulate neuroplasticity, forging new neural connections, and fortifying your cognitive reserve. I use the last 15 min to engage in learning. I often read articles or published research on brain health or listen to educational podcasts.
In the realm of neuroscience, the 5 AM Club isn't a mere lifestyle choice; it's a strategic approach to enhancing your brain's resilience and potential. As you curate your morning ritual, remember that you're not just setting the stage for the day—you're sculpting the architecture of a high-performing brain, one sunrise at a time. Let's optimize those neural networks and unlock the full spectrum of your cognitive capabilities.