We’ve all experienced those mornings when we just can’t break free from the clutches of our beds, and we want to steal an extra 5 minutes of sleep because we feel exhausted even when we had enough sleep. In an effort to stop this feeling from ruining the whole workday, a lot of us drown ourselves in cups upon cups of coffee.
But taking too much caffeine can increase anxiety levels and make us jittery (not excluding the frequent trips to the bathroom). Perhaps there’s an alternative to kill morning fatigue and stock up enough energy to go about the activities of the day.
Don’t hit snooze – For any reason
That favourite button on your alarm clock may not be as beneficial as you think. How you spend the last 30 minutes plus of your nighttime called “fragmented sleep” by researchers has severe consequences on your ability to function throughout the day.
Expert tip: give the 90 minutes sleep cycle routine a try by programming two alarms – one for 90 minutes before your rising time and another for when you actually want to wake up. The theory is that the hour and half of sleep you get in-between snoozes will be a full sleep cycle enabling you to wake up after – not during – your REM state.
Always drink a glass of water
Fatigue is a classic indication that you might be dehydrated. And in extreme cases, dehydration induces sleep, mood disruptions and changes in cognitive abilities. Let a glass of water activate your whole body before you get going.
Expert tip: if you discover that you still can’t ditch the morning lethargy, try increasing your water intake and other non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.
There’s an explanation as to why it feels good to stretch in the morning. During REM sleep, your muscles are literally numb, and stretching them releases energy-restoring endorphins.
Expert tip: if you can squeeze out time to practice yoga in the morning, utilise it; just 25 minutes of yoga has been reported to increase brain function and energy levels.
Splash water on your face
Cold showers have been shown to decrease sick-day absences from work. If you don’t feel like taking a full bath, splash cold water on your face to send a temperature change to your body. This may also work the magic.
Expert tip: is getting out of bed the real issue? Just keep a water mist or spray can on your bedside table so you can reach out and mist yourself without even opening your eyes.
Don’t skip breakfast
There’s still a debate on whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But studies reveal that skipping this first meal could have adverse effects on your energy level and attentiveness all through the day. Food is fuel. Provide your body with some calories to enable it to swing into action at the start of the day. But if you’re working out in the morning, it is best to eat AFTER, not BEFORE. As this will help
- Enhance metabolism
- Burn more calories
- Avoid an unsettled stomach
Expert tip: Create a fatigue-suppressing breakfast. Since what you consume in the morning can influence your mood throughout the day, making the right choice is essential for your mornings. Go for a combination of fatigue-fighting foods such as whole grains, nuts, lean proteins and fruits with lower sugar.
Avoid sugar until lunch
All breakfast are not made the same, so carefully scrutinise your morning food preferences. Sugary products like pastries, breakfast cereals and sweetened coffee drinks can cause the classic rise and drop in blood sugar levels the renders you feeling drained.
Expert tip: Keep an eye on nutrition labels to see how much sugar you’re taking during breakfast – and boycott wherever possible. Always keep on hand whole foods like oranges, carrots and apples for easy access.
Drink less coffee
That’s right. We said less coffee – but not none! Though coffee has countless health benefits, taking a cup too much in the morning could indirectly contribute to higher fatigue levels later in the day. Participants in one survey reported feeling more exhausted the day after they had consumed caffeinated products. Reducing your caffeine intake in the morning actually may make you less fatigued.
Expert tip: Boycott the huge mugs. If you have to, get a smaller cup, to help you reduce the amount you consume.
Activate your brain by going outside
Sunlight helps boost your body’s level of serotonin, causing improved nighttime – and, therefore increasing daytime energy. And according to a series of research conducted at the University of Rochester, spending more time in nature “makes people feel more alive”. Sounds like an excellent reason to spend some of your time in the morning syncing with nature.
Expert tip: if stepping outside in the early morning is a chore, adjusting your curtain to allow sunlight into your room when you’re getting ready to wake up will suffice.
Add some Cardio to your morning routine
Sure, when you feel the urge to fall back into the arms of your bed, exercise may sound pretty unexciting – but it may be precisely what your body needs to prep it for the day. Studies consistently associate reduced fatigue with aerobic exercises. See if you can accommodate a bike ride or a quick walk in your morning routine, or try a more extended workout to increase the benefits.
Expert tips: When pressed for time, doing a few rounds of jumping jacks or high knees would get the body up and running. Even a 30 seconds torso twist or a short cardio commute on your route to work will work the magic.
Confronting your stress
Could it be that negative thoughts and feelings about your stressors at home or your job are responsible for your morning lethargy? You may not be able to find solutions to every problem at once, but once you’ve established them as the springboards for physical and mental exhaustion, you can often make some decisions to eliminate them.
Expert tip: Reduce stressful morning routines at home by completing some morning tasks the night before, or making it a habit to meditate and create inner calmness before the start of the day.
Have something to look forward to
Sometimes, what we genuinely need to up our energy is a little excitement just around the corner. To eliminate the morning exhaustion, try scheduling a phone call with a friend on your way to work, pencilling in an outdoor stroll on your mid morning break, or preparing an enticing breakfast that you can’t wait to devour when you wake up.
Expert tip: let another schedule determine yours. Try adding an earlier morning radio show or podcast to your morning routine.
Pay more attention to your mental health
If morning exhaustion becomes a chronic occurrence, it could be as a result of anxiety or depression. People suffering from depression can feel worse in the morning or only experience depression in the morning. However, the only way to be sure, is to keep an eye on your mood or consult a professional.
Expert tip: dig a little deeper. Evaluating the state of your mental health could reveal an underlying issue that needs immediate professional attention.
Conclusively, practice good sleep and waking hygiene
Your waking up routine could play a significant role in your rest as much as your bedtime habits. You’ve probably come across sleep hygiene – a bunch of practices that enables you to fall asleep faster during bedtime. These include:
- Turning screens off an hour before bedtime
- Creating a comfortable environment for sleep
- Retire at the same time every night
Waking up at an exact time every morning helps manage Circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock in charge of sleep.
Put in efforts to wake up at the same time each day – including weekends – to see if you can conquer the mid morning slump.