How to Get Energy in the Morning
How to Get Energy in the Morning
Many of us wake up in the morning completely drained of energy. We drag ourselves out of bed, stuff a piece of toast in our mouth, and hope we remember to put on pants before we leave the house. There's a better approach. Learn how to teach your body and brain to wake up alert and stay that way throughout the day.

Improving Your Daily Routine

Drink a glass of water. Drink a glass of water to rehydrate yourself after a dry night.

Eat a healthy breakfast. If most of your breakfast is coffee or sugary cereal, you're setting yourself up for a crash. Ramp yourself up to lasting energy with a breakfast of protein, carbohydrates, and fruit or vegetables. Here are some examples: Steel-cut oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts Yogurt, low-sugar bran cereal, and a glass of orange juice Omelette or scrambled eggs with veggies, wrapped in a hot tortilla If you're in a rush or don't enjoy eating breakfast, make a smoothie the night before and store it in the fridge. Include fruit, yogurt, and green vegetables (or vegetable powder).

Exercise. Exercising will get your blood flowing and loosen stiff muscles. There's no need to run a mile; one study found that low-intensity exercise actually made people more alert than a moderate workout, at least if they weren't used to a fitness routine already. Spend twenty minutes on a gentle walk or yoga, or fit in five minutes if you're pressed for time. Exercising outdoors may wake you up more quickly, due to the cold, fresh air. Open the windows or stand in a cold fan to get this effect indoors.

Keep the snooze button out of reach. Waking up and falling back asleep can trigger the start of a whole new wave of sleep hormones. Don't rely on your selfish morning persona not to hit the snooze button. Move your alarm clock so you have to get out of bed to turn it off, the first time you hear it.

Wake up to the right type of light. Our brain expects us to get up in the early morning, bathed in bright, bluish light. If this is roughly the time you wake up, keep the curtains open so your body doesn't think it's night. Otherwise, consider purchasing a dawn-simulating alarm clock. This will gradually increase the light levels in the room before your alarm goes off, which helps you wake up alert and happy. "Full spectrum" fluorescent lights are a cheaper option but do not mimic morning light all that well. It might still be worth replacing incandescent or regular fluorescent light bulbs in your bedroom, especially if you can set it to turn on about thirty minutes before you wake up.

Brush your teeth. Not only will brushing your teeth keep them clean, but the minty flavor in your mouth will also wake you up. To make the most of this, brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, floss, then rinse with mouthwash. You should start feeling a little bit more awake by now. Chewing gum may keep you alert for similar reasons, plus the physical activity of keeping your jaws moving. Mouthwash that contains alcohol may dry out your mouth, and potentially increases risk of cancer. Stick to alcohol-free mouthwash instead.

Wash your face. Washing the sleep out of your eyes and all the sweat off of your face will help refresh you and wake you up. If you tend to feel alert after a shower, make that part of your morning routine.

Listen to music. Music or an audiobook stimulates your brain. Turn it on as you go about your morning routine. You can even use a radio alarm or online "podcast alarm" to wake up to something less obnoxious than beeping.

Experience something educational or fun. Nothing makes your pillow more enticing than a morning spent reading emails or traffic reports. Make yourself happy to be awake by listening to a favorite podcast or radio station. If that's too passive for you, solve a crossword or sudoku, or play a video game.

Get a good night's sleep for the next day. Get enough sleep tonight so you're ready to go tomorrow. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep a night, and many children and teenagers need nine to eleven hours to stay alert. This is time spent actually sleeping, not fighting insomnia. Learn how to sleep comfortably to make your nights and mornings easier. Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule will help you sleep deeply and wake up fresh. Try going to bed earlier instead of sleeping in to catch up on your sleep debt on the weekend.

Taking Caffeine

Take caffeine in moderate amounts. Caffeine increases alertness and brain activity, but individuals have major differences in tolerance levels. Generally, starting your morning with 75–100mg of caffeine (about one mug of coffee) is a good starting point. Drink less (or none) if you experience unpleasant jittery sensations, muscle tremors, or a major crash after the caffeine wears out. Drink more if you don't notice an effect. Caffeine helps you function faster and push through relatively easy tasks. It won't make difficult tasks easier or help you find solutions to complex problems. Teenagers and young adults should stick to 100mg of caffeine a day, while most adults can handle up to 400mg spaced throughout the day. Note that these are recommended maximum limits and that a lower dose may have better effects on your mood and energy level.

Time your use. Most people who regularly drink coffee or tea feel an oncoming mood boost within minutes of starting their beverage. The full energy boost, however, usually takes 45–60 minutes to reach it's maximum, then peters out over the next 3–6 hours. This varies a great deal between individuals, but it's a good estimate to keep in mind. If you don't drink coffee until you show up to work, you may still be groggy for that morning meeting. In theory, a small hourly dose (e.g. 20mg or 1/5 a mug of coffee) may give a more steady boost and less extreme crash. One study suggests this increases brain function but not a feeling of alertness, at least in sleep-deprived people.

Understand the interactions between drugs and food. Many other substances affect how your body processes caffeine. Know what these are so you can maximize the energy you receive, or reduce it to a more mellow buzz: Sugar might increase the effects of caffeine. However, too much sugar (including sweet coffee drinks) leads to a severe crash in energy levels once it runs out. Grapefruit juice may prolong the effects of caffeine, although this isn't certain. Note that grapefruit juice can have dangerous effects on many other medications, so check those warning labels. If you take echinacea, theophylline (found in bronchodilators), or some antibiotic medication, caffeine may have a more extreme effect. This includes the unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and jitteriness, so keep caffeine consumption low. Nicotine speeds up caffeine metabolism, getting it out of your system sooner. Consider replacing smoking with caffeine for a longer-lasting energy boost, with less dangerous side effects.

Avoid withdrawal and disturbed sleep. Some people can drink caffeine in the evening with no ill effects, while others can't fall asleep if they had a cup of tea six hours before. If you sleep restlessly, try limiting all your caffeine intake to before lunchtime. Withdrawal is another symptom that only occurs in some people, but is worth watching out for. If you experience headaches or drowsiness at some point in the12–48 hours after you've last had caffeine, decrease the amount of caffeine you take each day. After a few days, you should be back at the point where you can use caffeine as an alertness booster, instead of a necessity for reaching normal function.

Keep up healthy habits. The healthy routine described above is vital if you want to reap the benefits every day. Relying on caffeine to replace sleep or a healthy breakfast leaves you groggy and irritable. At best, you'll end up functional for a few hours, then exhausted for the afternoon and evening. Make caffeine one of several allies to get you through the morning, not your master.

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