How to Fight Against Fatigue in the Mornings

We’ve all dealt with those mornings where we just can’t shake off the feelings of sluggishness, despite technically getting enough sleep. Many of us tend to rely on numerous cups of coffee in an attempt to perk up on those tired days. However, over-caffeinated yourself can leave you jittery and anxious throughout the day. There are better ways to banish those morning fatigues and help you get on with your day with the energy you need by following these simple strategies.

  1. Don’t hit the snooze button. Hitting the snooze button may not be as helpful as you think. Try the 90-minute sleep cycle hack by setting two alarms — one for 90 minutes before you want to wake up and one for when you actually want to wake up. The theory is that the 90 minutes of sleep you get between snoozes will be a full sleep cycle, allowing you to wake up after your REM state, instead of during.

  2. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Fatigue is a symptom of dehydration and can even trigger feelings of sleepiness, changes in cognitive ability, and mood disruptions. Let a glass of water freshen up your entire body before you get moving. If you still can’t shake off the morning exhaustion, try increasing your intake of water and other non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day.

  3. Stretch out your tired body with yoga. Overnight, during REM sleep, your muscles are literally paralyzed (atonia), and reactivating them releases energy-stimulating endorphins. If you have time in the morning, try doing morning yoga. Just doing this for 25 minutes has shown to boost energy levels and brain functions.

  4. Splash your face with water. Cold showers are reported to reduce sick-day absences from work. If you don’t want to take a full shower, a splash of cold water to the face, to signal a temperature change to your body, may also do the trick. Is getting out of bed the main problem? Keep a spray bottle or water mist by your bedside table so you can lean over and mist yourself without even opening your eyes!

  5. Eat breakfast to spark your energy. Research has shown that skipping your first meal can negatively affect your energy and the ability to pay attention throughout the day. Food can serve as your fuel. Give your body some calories to put into action at the start of your day. If you are planning to work out in the morning, remember to eat after, not before. This will burn more calories, boost your metabolism, and help you avoid an unsettled stomach. Build a fatigue fighting breakfast with a combination of foods like lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and low-sugar fruits.

  6. Avoid having sugar until lunch. Sugary items like sweetened coffee drinks, pastries, and breakfast cereals can lead to the classic blood sugar spike-and-drop that leaves you feeling drained. Make sure to pay attention to the nutrition labels to see how much sugar you’re getting at breakfast and cut back wherever possible. Keep whole foods like apples, carrots, and oranges on hand for easy access.

  7. Drink less coffee. Though coffee has plenty of health benefits, drinking too much of it in the morning may indirectly contribute to increased fatigue later in the day. Experimenting with a reduced amount of caffeine in the morning may actually make you less tired. Avoid the big mugs. Purchase a smaller cup to help reduce the amount you drink.

  8. Go outside to activate your brain. Sunlight bumps up your body’s serotonin levels, leading to improved sleep and, therefore, increased daytime energy. If going outside is a chore in the early morning, adjust your curtains so that the sunlight seeps in when you’re getting ready to wake up.

  9. Get some cardio in throughout the morning. Research consistently correlates aerobic exercise with reduced fatigue. See if you can squeeze in a quick walk or bike ride, or maybe try a longer workout for even more benefits. When pressed for time, get your body up with a few rounds of high-knee exercises and jumping jacks. Plan for a short cardio commute on your way to work, or even 30 seconds of torso twists could do the trick.

  10. Address your stress. It could be possible that the negative feelings about your job or stressors at home may be draining your energy. You may not be able to fix certain situations overnight, but once you’ve identified them as a source of mental and physical exhaustion, you can often take some action to alleviate the stress. Try making your lunches the night before to alleviate the stress of rushing in the morning. Another helpful tip is to take time for morning meditations and create a calm before your day begins.

  11. Give yourself something to look forward to. Sometimes we all need a little energy boost. Consider scheduling a phone call with a friend during your commute, penciling in an outdoor walk on your midmorning break, or pre-making an appealing breakfast that can call you out of bed. Sometimes listening to an early morning podcast or radio show can help become part of your wake-up routine.

  12. Practice good sleep (and waking) hygiene. Here are some good practices to do that can help you fall asleep at night:
    • Turn off screens an hour before bed
    • Turning in at the same time each night
    • Create a comfortable sleeping environment.

    Make an effort to rise at the same time every day – even on weekends – to see if you can banish the mid-morning slump.

  13. Evaluate your mental health. If morning fatigue becomes a chronic problem, it could be caused by depression or anxiety. People with depression can feel worse in the morning or only feel depressed in the morning. The only way to know, however, is to track your mood or see a professional. Dig a little deeper by asking some key questions about your mental health state may reveal an underlying condition that needs professional attention.

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