How to maximise your daily routine for physical and mental performance

We are big, big fans of The Huberman podcast where you get access to science-based tools for everyday life.

We have found a blueprint drawn from 250+ hours of Huberman Lab podcast content as a way to consolidate and condense the most impactful, zero-cost tools to maximize your daily routine for physical and mental health and performance. 

Phase 1: Waking and Early Morning (Hours 1–4) 

Prioritize light exposure each morning.

• Outdoor light exposure causes a beneficial cortisol peak early in the morning, increases daytime mood, energy and alertness and helps you fall asleep more easily at night ¹

A morning walk outdoors can provide you with both light exposure and optic flow(explained below), which quiets activity of the amygdala and related circuits and reduces feelings of stress and anxiety all day.

Delay caffeine and ensure proper hydration.

• Delay your caffeine intake by 90–120 minutes after waking to help increase alertness and avoid an afternoon crash. (As a caveat: if exercising first thing in the morning, feel free to drink caffeine before exercise
• Aim to drink around 1 liter of water during this morning period and add a pinch of Celtic salt for a source of electrolytes.

Use breathing to increase energy. 

• To practice:

• Take a deep inhale through your nose, immediately followed by a deep exhale (active or passive) through your mouth.
• Repeat the above 20–25x, then fully exhale until lungs are empty.
• Hold for 15–30 seconds.
• Repeat for up to 5 minutes total.

Expect to feel a little tingly or agitated during the exercise. However, over the next few minutes, adrenaline levels will increase to greatly improve your focus and attention.

Please use caution practicing this technique if you are prone to panic attacks or have high anxiety. Always practice seated and in a safe environment.

Cyclic hyperventilation shifts the autonomic nervous system towards feelings of increased alertness and enhanced focus. This pattern of breathing consists of rapid inhalations and exhalations, which causes hyperventilation, releasing adrenaline and thus increasing neural excitability. 

Optimize your productivity. 

• Position your computer screen at eye level or above for increased alertness.
• Use binaural beats of 40 hertz frequency if struggling to focus. White noise can also be effective. Otherwise, silence is best.

The best time in the morning to do hard mental work is typically in the 1–4 hours after waking. Moderate-intensity exercise before a bout of deep work increases blood flow to the brain and can improve focus and productivity.

Phase 2: Midday Through Evening (Hours 5–13) 

Use exercise to optimize your energy levels. 

• Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar, balance hormone levels, improve immunity and depending on the type of exercise, can either increase energy levels or support feelings of relaxation ². 

Optimize your food and hydration. 

• Eat a lower-carb lunch to help avoid an afternoon crash.
• Go for a short 5–30 minute walk after lunch to increase metabolism and further calibrate your circadian rhythm with light exposure.

Rest and recharge with naps or non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) 

• Try to keep naps to 20 minutes or less to avoid sleep inertia (explanation below). However, if you don’t feel an afternoon dip in energy or you tend to feel groggy after a nap, feel free to avoid them. Naps are not necessary. 
• Use a non-sleep deep rest protocol for 10–30 minutes to increase dopamine levels and mental energy ³. 

10 minute NSDR protocol

Eat dinner and prioritize sunset light exposure. 

• Eat dinner with some higher-carbohydrate (i.e. starchy but still complex) foods and protein to promote relaxation and sleep.
• Get light exposure around sunset to reduce the negative effects of light exposure later in the night. 

Phase 3: Bedtime and Sleeping (Hours 14–24) 

Prioritize a consistent sleep schedule. 

• It is crucial to wake up at the same time (+/- 1 hour) each morning, days off included.
• Sleeping in later than that on the weekend is likely going to disrupt your circadian rhythm and make waking on your regular schedule that much harder. 

Use breathing to promote relaxation. 

• Physiological sighing rapidly shifts the autonomic nervous system towards a state of increased calm. Even just 1–3 cyclic sighs can be effective, and if repeated as a short breathwork practice for five minutes a day, it has been shown in a clinical trial to improve sleep, lower resting heart rate and enhance mood around the clock. 

To practice: 

• Take a deep inhale followed by a second, ‘top-off’ inhale to maximally inflate the lungs. 
• Release all your air with a full lungs-to-empty” exhale. 
• Repeat 2–3x.

Optimize your sleep environment. 

• Start dimming the lights shortly after sunset and avoid overhead and bright lights in general. 
• Dim computer and phone screens as much as possible or use a reduced filter to reduce blue light exposure. 
• Cool your bedroom to 1–3 degrees lower than usual. 
• Make your room as dark as possible using blackout blinds or an eye mask. 

If you wake up in the middle of the night, use NSDR to promote relaxation and support falling back asleep quickly.


1. How to Optimize Morning Light Exposure 

When Within 30–60 minutes of waking

Where: Outside 

How long: 

Sunny day = 5–10 mins 

Cloudy day = 10–15 mins 

Overcast day = up to 30 mins 

How to do it: Look towards the sunrise or sun, but never stare directly at the sun. Blink as necessary. Wearing contact lenses and prescription glasses are fine but aim to avoid using sunglasses or hats that are meant to block sunlight from your eyes. 

If you cannot get outside: Bright, blue-hued indoor lights will suffice, but try to get outdoors as soon as you can. Lux is a unit of measure of the intensity of light exposure to the human eye. Even on a cloudy day, outdoor light reaches around 10,000 lux, compared to a bright indoor light source, which is usually no brighter than 1,000 lux. 

2. How to Build an Effective Exercise Protocol 

There are many ways to design an exercise protocol, depending on your current fitness level, goals, lifestyle and time constraints. Below are some resources to dive deeper:

3. How to Recover from a Poor Night’s Sleep

If you have experienced a poor night’s sleep, your impulse may be to sleep in, drink a much-needed cup of coffee as you roll out of bed, and push your morning workout until the evening when you are feeling up for it. But the best way to recover from a poor night’s sleep is to make sure it does not affect your next night’s sleep. 

Here are the most important protocols for recovering from short-term sleep deprivation: 

• Get up at the same time as usual. Sleeping more than 1 hour past your usual wakeup time can shift your circadian clock later (called phase delay), making it harder to fall asleep that night. 
• Ensure you get adequate sunlight exposure soon after waking to support a cortisol peak early in the day. 
• Delay caffeine until 90–120 minutes after waking to maximize the energy-boosting effects of your cup of coffee or tea. 
• Exercise in the morning to encourage an early-day cortisol peak and provide a boost in adrenaline and focus. 
• If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, avoid caffeine and take an afternoon nap or use a 10–30 minute NSDR protocol to recharge instead. 


Cortisol & cortisol peak: 

Cortisol, a hormone released from the adrenal glands, is the key driver that moves your body from sleep to waking. It is essential for the cortisol pulse to happen early in the day or early in your period of wakefulness. 

A timer is set when the cortisol pulse occurs, which dictates the release of melatonin about 12–14 hours later. 

Optic flow: 

Optic flow is a phenomenon that occurs when we generate our own forward motion, such as when walking, biking or running. Visual images pass by our eyes, generating a flow of information that has a powerful effect on the nervous system. Optic flow has been shown to reduce the amount of neural activity in the amygdala, which is a brain structure that generates feelings of fear, threat and anxiety. 

Binaural beats: 

Binaural beats are a type of sound that can be used to bring the brain into different states of relaxation or alertness. They involve delivering a different beat pattern to each ear. The difference in what each ear is hearing (called interaural time differences) generates particular types of brainwaves. The frequency of binaural beats that appears to support enhanced cognitive functioning at the level of memory, improved reaction times and improved verbal recall seems to be 40 hertz. 

Sleep inertia:

Sleep inertia is the grogginess and disorientation that people feel when they wake up from deep, slow-wave sleep. Napping longer than 20–25 minutes can allow the brain to begin a full sleep cycle. Trying to quickly wake up from the middle of a sleep cycle is difficult and can lead to even more fatigue and irritability than when you started your nap.