We’ve all had those mornings when we just can’t seem to get going, no matter how many double espressos we down. According to the experts, that extra dose of caffeine is not helping matters—it’s most likely exacerbating things.
In a recent article for Fast Company, "Let this brain scientist optimize your morning routine,” MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer and neuroscientist Tara Swart explains why and offers a few suggestions on how to remedy the situation. She says these simple changes to your morning routine will go a long way in boosting your cognitive functioning and getting rid of that foggy morning feeling.
- Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. That sweet spot will help your pituitary function (which regulates hormones that control your appetite, mood, and alertness) to operate at top form.
- Make sure you start the day with water rather than caffeine. Although we often think coffee gets rid of that groggy feeling, it’s a diuretic, and the key to feeling awake is hydration. So, a glass of water with lemon or a cup of turmeric tea or green tea will help with dehydration and also provide antioxidant compounds that boost brain health.
- Although we generally don’t make time for it, an early morning stretch is just what the body needs to wake up. Yoga exercises can improve oxygen flow to the brain, and even lying on the floor with your legs up for a few minutes will give your body an energy boost.
- Making time for meditation—a mere 12 minutes—can improve focus and the higher-level thinking that’s required for problem-solving.
- Make sure to eat a breakfast packed with protein and fiber—eggs, nuts, berries, salmon—and eat it at the same time each morning, which helps to regulate circadian rhythms and digestion, priming the brain for peak performance.
- Tackle difficult tasks early in the day as neurotransmitters such as serotonin dip mid-afternoon. For most people, early morning is optimum for complex tasks.
According to Swart and recent research, these simple changes in your morning routine can make a big difference that will pay off throughout the day. Read the full article or find out more by enrolling in one of Swart’s upcoming courses at MIT Sloan Executive Education: Neuroscience for Leadership or Applied Neuroscience: Unleashing Brain Power for You and Your People.