These 3 habits are key to waking up alert and refreshed - new research

Are you sick and tired of waking up tired? We hear you. Many of us roll out of bed each morning feeling like we could sleep for another few hours. But the good news is there are some very simple steps you can take to wake up every morning feeling refreshed and alert.

New research out of the US says there are three key ways to beat the morning sluggishness:

  1. a balanced breakfast rich in quality carbs;
  2. a decent night’s sleep; and
  3. exercise the previous day.

A better breakfast

The University of California study analysed the behaviour of almost 800 people for two weeks. the study participants had set breakfasts, kept diaries to track alertness and diet and wore fit watches to monitor their sleep and exercise.

The researchers discovered a nutritious breakfast – one that had a low GI (glycemic index) and was high in quality carbohydrates - had the biggest benefits when it came to morning alertness and, importantly, maintaining that alert state.

Study participants who ate a breakfast rich in good carbs and moderate amounts of protein, were more alert and less likely to suffer from a mid-morning energy slump. In contrast, participants who had a high dose of sugar instead of the breakfast were more likely to struggle to wake up.

“Consuming high amounts of sugar in your breakfast, and having a spike in blood sugar following any type of breakfast meal, could blunt your brain’s ability to return to waking consciousness following sleep, said study author Dr Raphael Vallat, University of California.

So, what should be on your morning menu?

The great news is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sanitarium dietitian Eliza Baird has some favourite breakfasts to avoid morning grogginess and help you wake up as fresh as a daisy:

Quality sleep

Pride yourself on how little sleep you need? It may be time for a rethink. The US study found that getting seven to nine hours’ sleep each night had a significant impact on how you felt in the morning.

Getting a good night’s sleep is easier said than done. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to help you catch quality Zz’s:

  • Keep it regular: try going to sleep at the same time each night, and wake at the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • Nap smarter: if you’re a napper, keep it to no longer than 30 minutes so it doesn’t impact your night sleep.
  • Avoid ‘sleep stealers’: alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are big sleep disruptors.
  • Go for early dinners: try not to eat too late, you want at least 2-3 hours before your bedtime and avoid rich, heavy foods.
  • Make it cosy: keep your sleep space light and comfortable. Soft lighting, comfy bedding, and reduce unnecessary distractions like mobile phones, TV or laptops.

Move your body

The study also found that exercise the day prior helped – although the correlation between physical activity and next-day alertness was less clear.

“It may be that exercise-induced better sleep is part of the reason exercise the day before, by helping sleep that night, leads to superior alertness throughout the next day,” Dr Vallat says.

The scientists describe the combination of a lower-sugar, high-carb breakfast, sleep and exercise as a “relatively simple prescription for how best to wake up each day”.

A dose of good health we can all use!