Want to Make a New Habit Stick? Do It at This Time Every Day, Study Says

Timing is everything, people.

I always tell myself that I am going to start writing down three things I’m grateful for every day, like I imagine Oprah and Tony Robbins and every other enlightened idol of mine does, but then I get lazy. Yes: SO lazy that I can’t bring myself to write down three (just three!) things to remind myself that life isn’t all panicking about bank account balances and discovering your office almond milk has gone bad and realizing that 20-year-old Kylie Jenner is richer than you’ll ever be. But maybe my inability to make this habit stick is simply a result of bad timing — at least that’s what a new study published in Health Psychology suggests.

As TIME reports, a new small study found that participants were more likely to make a new habit stick if they did it every day right when they woke up, rather than waiting until later in the day. For the study, researchers split 48 college students into two groups: the first group was assigned to do a 15-second hip-flexor stretch every morning right after they woke up and the second group was told to do the same thing every night before going to bed. The researchers followed the students for 90 days, and every day, the students answered questions about whether they’d done the stretch and how much they’d had to think about doing it before they, ya know, actually did it. The researchers also tested the participants’ saliva for cortisol throughout the 90 days.

In the end, the researchers projected the stretching habit would stick — meaning the participants would automatically remember to do it — significantly earlier, at 105 days in versus 154, for the group that did it right when they woke up. Why? Well, the researchers aren’t totally sure why, but they believe it could have something to do with cortisol levels, which were highest in the morning. So, I will be keeping my “S&#! I’m grateful for” notebook next to my bed from now on, thank you very much. And if you have a healthy habit you’ve been trying to work into your life, you may want to follow suit.

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