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Eat a B-vitamin-packed breakfast.
For a morning meal that will leave you feeling refreshed, look for foods rich in B vitamins. “They help convert food into energy, giving us the boost we need in the morning,” says Lara Metz, a registered dietitian at The Nutritious Life in New York City. B vitamins are easy to find in whole grains, eggs, beans, fruits, veggies, lean meat, and poultry. “My favorite breakfast is one slice of toasted Ezekiel bread with 1/4-1/2 an avocado and a sliced, hard-boiled egg,” says Metz. “The fat and protein found in the avocado and egg — in addition to the various B vitamins — will give you long-lasting energy.”
Get a programmable coffee maker.
Another reason to love the scent of hot coffee in the morning: Just a simple whiff could help you feel less sluggish. The aroma of the popular caffeinated beverage appears to alter gene activity in the brain, protecting nerve cells from the stress of sleep deprivation, animal research in Agricultural and Food Chemistry reveals. To reap the energy-boosting benefits, program your coffee maker at night so you wake up to the smell of a fresh pot. Not a java junkie? The effects occur by simply inhaling the scent — no drinking required — so swing by your local coffee shop and take a deep breath.
Watch A funny YouTube clip.
Do you tend to start your mornings by slogging through work emails and depressing news headlines? No wonder you want to crawl back under the covers. Instead, pull up your favorite comedy sketch or YouTube clip. People who are exposed to humor report feeling more energized, happier, and ready to take on more challenging activities, a study from the University of Nebraska shows. Laughter also boosts oxygen intake and releases feel-good endorphins in the brain that stimulate the body.
Let the light in.
Blackout shades may be great for catching ZZZs, but we need a little brightness in the morning to make us feel alert. “Light activates the brain’s arousal center, stimulating the body and signaling to your internal clock that it’s time to get up,” says Christopher S. Colwell, PhD, a neuroscientist and psychiatry professor at UCLA Medical Center. If too much light pollution at night makes leaving your curtains open a nonstarter, consider setting your bedside lamp to a morning timer, or invest in a light-emitting alarm clock that’s made to simulate sunrise and help you wake up gradually. Even better: Step outside. “Going for a morning walk in the sunlight is probably the single most beneficial thing you can do to feel more awake in the morning,” says Dr. Colwell. Short on time? Sip your coffee outside or next to a sun-filled window.
Showered and dressed, but still feel like you’re sleepwalking? Chew a piece of gum. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Neuroscience Research, chewing gum can make you feel more awake and less stressed. The simple act of chewing appears to boost alertness by increasing heart rate and blood flow to the brain, say researchers. Look for mint- or cinnamon-flavored varieties: Some evidence suggests the strong scents may have a stimulating effect.