1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Do you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, or do your sleep sessions fluctuate? (Think: turning in late if you have evening plans or are binge-watching Netflix, and letting yourself sleep in on the weekends.) If the hours when you're catching zzzs are inconsistent, then your circadian rhythm — an internal clock regulating patterns of sleepiness and alertness — will be out of whack, which can trigger brain fog. "Our body chemistry is programmed to work in cycles," Michael Twery, PhD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "When the timing of these cycles is off, it's like an engine that doesn't run well, and you will struggle to wake up." When you're establishing your snooze routine, just make sure you're turning in early enough to give you ample R&R. A December 2018 assessment published in Sleep found that logging seven to eight hours of shut-eye is ideal (although a December 2013 Gallup poll found that 40 percent of Americans get less than that). But the National Sleep Foundation says it typically takes 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep once you're under the covers.
2. Skip the Snooze Button
The average smartphone has a preset snooze time of nine to 10 minutes, which is long enough for you to begin drifting off to dreamland again. But right when your body prepares to enter another sleep stage, you're jolted awake again, confusing your brain and leaving you in a semi-lucid state. "As a result, you won't feel refreshed," says sleep specialist Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Power of When.
Tip Put your alarm on the other side of the room so you physically can’t reach out and tap snooze
3. Just Breathe
As soon as you wake, sit up in bed and inhale and exhale deeply for about two minutes, taking long, slow, big breaths of air to infuse your cells with oxygen. "Your respiratory system slows while you sleep," Breus says. "Getting lungfuls of oxygen kickstarts it again." In turn, your increased circulation will lift your energy levels, he says.
4. Grab Your Water Bottle
Here's why you feel parched in the morning: "Sleep is dehydrative," Breus says. "On average, people lose a liter of water during the night, depending on the humidity level in your bedroom and your breathing patterns — like if you sleep with your mouth open or closed." Since water transports oxygen to your muscles and brain, dehydration can lead to physical and mental grogginess. To replenish your cells and perk up, guzzle at least 16 ounces of H2O.
5. Let the Sunshine In
Bright light is a powerful energy booster because it puts the brakes on melatonin, the "sleepiness hormone" that your brain churns out in order to start sleep.
Since darkness triggers melatonin's release, you can counteract its snooze-inducing effects by opening your shades. "When sunlight hits the melanopsin cells in your eyes, it turns off the melatonin faucet in your brain," Breus says.
If it's still dark out when you wake up, switch on a blue-enriched LED light (as opposed to a warm white bulb).
6. Get Your Blood Pumping
An October 2013 review published in Fatigue found that exercise instantly increases alertness and decreases fatigue. Whether you hit the gym, take your fur baby for a brisk walk around the block or simply drop and do 10 push-ups, you'll flood your body and brain with energy-enhancing oxygen, Breus says.
7. Chill Out
Wrap up your morning shower with a blast of chilly water. During the last minute, make the water temperature progressively colder every 10 seconds.
"Cold forces blood to shunt from your extremities to your trunk, which sends a danger signal to your brain — as if you were outside in the snow," Breus says. "As survival mode kicks in, you become more alert." Aim for a temp that's uncomfortable without feeling like torture.
8. Score a Caffeine Boost
It's a no-brainer, but sipping coffee or tea will energize you. "Caffeine slows the accumulation of chemicals that promote sleepiness," Twery explains. According to a December 2016 review published in Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews, consuming between a half to three cups of a caffeinated beverage will help shake off mental and physical fatigue.
Tip Set your coffee pot to auto-brew so you’ll wake up to the yummy smell of a steaming mug of java. A June 2018 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that the aroma alone increases alertness.
9. Curate a Morning Playlist
The right kind of music can give you a lift, so rock out to fun songs while you're getting ready for the day.
A small May 2012 study published in Experimental Psychology revealed that people who listened to Vivaldi's uplifting "Spring" concerto experienced greater levels of alertness and improved cognitive capacity.