Want to get your day off to a super-healthy start? Just remember the number 15.
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Developed by sleep doctor Michael Breus, PhD, the 15x15x15 formula is something he does himself every morning to boost his productivity.
Here's how to do it:
1. Get 15 Minutes of Sun on Your Face
"Fifteen minutes of sunlight helps remove brain fog," Breus says.
He explains that sunlight is rich in a specific wave of blue light that hits Melinopsin cells in your eye.
"This turns off the melatonin faucet in your brain," he says. (Melatonin is a hormone that peaks at night and tells your body to get ready to sleep.)
Bonus: Not only can sunlight help you wake up, but it also can have positive effects on your sleep that night. In a 2017 study on 109 people in Sleep Health, morning light exposure was associated with an easier time falling asleep later that night and better sleep quality compared to those who were exposed to low levels of early light. Morning rays were also associated with better mood.
2. Do 15 Minutes of Light Movement and/or Take 15 Deep Breaths
Take a gentle walk outside or take 15 deep breaths.
"This is to oxygenate your brain and focus on being present and ready for the day," Breus says.
In addition to triggering your body's relaxation response, deep breathing may also improve attention levels, which plays a role in performance, productivity, energy and mood, research suggests.
3. Drink 15 Ounces of Water (Before Coffee)
Ever step on the scale in the morning and notice that your weight is down? Well, you lose water when you sleep.
"Most people don't know it, but sleep is a dehydrative event," Breus says. "You lose about one liter of fluid each night from the humidity in your breath and your sweat."
There's no evidence that normal amounts of coffee will make you dehydrated, per January 2014 research in PLOS One. But because you're already waking up parched, it's best to rehydrate with water first thing, then move on to other beverages.
How to Put It All Together
You don't have to do the above in that exact order. Instead, organize your mornings with what works for your lifestyle and preferences.
Want to see this in action? Here's how Breus applies his 15x15x15 formula to his day:
Breus wakes up at 6:13 a.m. every day, including weekends. Before he does anything else, he takes 15 deep breaths in bed.
He keeps a water bottle by his bedside and fills it with 15 ounces of H2O the night before, which he then drinks before getting out of bed.
3. Get Outside
"I either walk to the window or put on my robe to walk outside with my dog to get 15 minutes of sunlight," Breus says.
If it's nice out, he'll even go out barefoot, a practice called grounding (or earthing) that some research shows can calm the nervous system, decrease inflammation and may even help improve heart health, according to a March 2015 review in the Journal of Inflammation Research.
- Society for Endocrinology. “Melatonin.”
- Sleep Health: “The impact of daytime light exposures on sleep and mood in office workers.”
- Frontiers in Psychology. “The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults.”
- PLOS One: “No Evidence of Dehydration with Moderate Daily Coffee Intake: A Counterbalanced Cross-Over Study in a Free-Living Population.”
- Journal of Inflammation Research: “The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”