It's fair to say that most of us can't start the morning without our beloved cup of coffee and for good reason: it stimulates the central nervous system, elevates your mood and increases your alertness. But, with it being January and a time that many of us try to cut back on what we might have in excess, what if you're trying to cut back on the caffeine? There are other ways to kickstart the day and this handy list of natural (and scientifically proven) hacks can surely help you get out the right side of the bed sans americano.
Let the light in
Pull back those curtains, step outside and take in the fresh air and let the light in because when it's dark your body produces more melatonin - a hormone secreted by the brain, critical in regulating your sleep - and this makes you feel sleepy. Stepping into the sunshine means the production of melatonin drops, hence making you feel more alert.
Take a cold shower
The thoughts of a cold shower before the dawn isn't exactly thrilling, but research has shown that exposing yourself to cold water can activate components of the brain responsible for regulating wakefulness, and the shock of cold water on your body can also increase your metabolic rate, reducing feelings of fatigue.
Eat a healthy breakfast
We're forever hearing about how our first meal of the day is the most important and not only is it the truth but a study discovered that people feel more alert after consuming breakfast first thing in the morning. Hold off indulging your sweet tooth though because you only stay alert if your breakfast is high in fibre and carbohydrates - your alertness wears off if you're eating sugar-based foods.
Hydration is important
Research suggests mild dehydration reduces alertness, increases fatigue and negatively affects mental concentration and because 60% of your body is made of water that you lose throughout the night while breathing, sweating and going to the toilet; it's always a good idea to replace those fluids first thing.
Exercise enhances cognition, due to the increased blood flow throughout the body, providing your brain with more oxygen and increasing mental performance. Keep up those morning jogs, and if you've yet to put a plan in place, there's no better time to begin. You'll be full of morning motivation and healthy to boot.
One study found that participants who consumed flavonoid-rich orange juice had increased alertness and cognitive function than those in a control group. As well as that, the juice has many additional benefits; citrus fruits are high in flavonoids, which have been linked to decreasing the onset of diseases like Alzheimer's.
Put on your favourite playlist
Listening to music can increase activations in regions of the brain associated with movement and emotion while potentially releasing the feel-good chemical dopamine throughout your body. It can also get your blood pumping (yep playing your favourite tunes can also send your body into a state of arousal), all of which should make waking up that bit easier.