How to Feel More Energized in the Morning

Tara Youngblood Jun 21, 2022

How to energize your morning

Waking up in the morning can be a struggle. We all have those days when we think, “Why can’t I wake up?”. You can feel tired in the morning for many reasons, from not getting enough quality sleep, to work hours misaligned with your chronotype, to mood disorders, and even dehydration.

Sleep inertia is the term used to describe that state of grogginess, disorientation, and/or impaired performance you experience after waking up, and it can last from minutes to hours [1, 2].

To combat that sluggish feeling, you may find yourself loading up on coffee or energy drinks, but this approach can leave you feeling jittery, anxious, and dependent on caffeine for your energy.

Below are 8 ways how to feel more energized in the morning. Give a few a try and see how your body feels in the morning.

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1. Don’t Hit Snooze

Hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock or phone may not be as beneficial as you’d like it to be. We’ve all been there: mornings where you hit the snooze repeatedly, hoping that the next time the alarm goes off, you’ll feel more rested and ready to get out of bed. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

Scientists believe that sleep must be uninterrupted for some minimum period of time **(e.g., 60-90 minutes for a complete sleep cycle) ** for it to be restorative. After the alarm rings and you hit snooze to fall back asleep for less than that time, you enter what scientists call “fragmented sleep.”

A research study found that spending 30 minutes or so in fragmented sleep between alarms can impair our daytime function. [3] That extra fragmented sleep actually may make you worse off for the rest of the day.

So even if you’ve become habituated to hitting the snooze button before waking up, you should stop. Instead, take time to re-evaluate your sleep-wake routine. The morning fog might be your body alerting you of its need for more sleep time.

Instead, try setting your alarm for a realistic time you think you’ll be able to wake up. Or, if you still want to stick with the snooze button, try setting your first alarm 90 minutes before your second one. This will give you a complete sleep cycle between your two alarms, allowing you to wake up after your REM sleep.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water first thing in the morning will help you jumpstart your day. If you feel fatigued in the morning, it may be because you’re dehydrated. Think about it! You likely just spent 8 to 10 hours without drinking anything.

Even mild dehydration can disrupt your mood, cause sleepiness, and/or negatively affect your cognitive ability. Therefore, keep a glass of water by your bed. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you can drink some to start to feel better as soon as possible [4].

3. Get Some Morning Sunlight

Stepping outside and getting some early morning sunlight may help reduce the morning fog. In some research studies, exposure to gradually increasing bright light decreased participant sleepiness and improved performance [5].

Furthermore, sunlight boosts your brain’s serotonin levels. Having healthy serotonin levels is an essential part of receiving healthy sleep. If you find yourself inside all day, whether at home or in the office, try going outside to catch some rays. This may improve your sleep and leave you feeling more rested and refreshed the next day.

Can’t get outside? Turning on your bright white LED lights can expose your brain to blue light. It stimulates the brain and may help you feel more awake [6]. So try going on a morning walk, opening your curtains, and/or turning on lights to reap the benefits.

Morning meditation

4. Get Moving; Meditation & Exercise

Another way to feel more energized in the morning is to get moving! Contemplative activities like focused attention (i.e. breathing exercises) and open monitoring (e.g., meditation), improve circulation and raise oxygen levels. This stimulation can help the body fight off fatigue, making you feel more awake and alert.

After you wake up, try practicing guided meditation while taking long, deep breaths to start your day. You can go for a short walk and pray, or do some stretching by the bedside. These practices may stimulate your brain, as well as reduce stress and improve your next sleep! [7]

Meditation Exercises

Meditation can help you feel better, reduce stress, and restore your calm and inner peace. Below are a few meditation exercises that can help you unwind and relax to get the day started or prepare for bedtime.

Morning Exercise

Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you’re lying in bed trying to talk yourself into getting up, but researchers say a short bout of exercise in the morning may help you feel more energized [8]. In particular, regular exercise and cardio can help significantly reduce fatigue [9] during the day and help you sleep better at night.

Sleep Study: A 2019 study found that morning exercise improves visual learning, decision-making, and visual learning [10].

Stretching in the Morning

Give yourself some time in the morning to stretch or perform yoga exercises, as they can support healthy brain function and increase energy levels. Did you know that while you’re in REM sleep at night, certain muscles are paralyzed, while others move involuntarily? [11] It’s true! Reactivating our muscles in the morning with yoga or simple stretches can release endorphins which boost energy levels.

Below are a few morning and midday stretching exercises that can help you get the day started and help you keep going strong all day long.

5. Eat a Balanced Breakfast

If you feel tired in the mornings and find yourself rushing out the door to get to work on time, then chances are you'll be skipping breakfast or only eating a little bit to save time. While this may seem like a good idea if it means you get to sleep more, this could negatively affect your energy levels throughout the day.

Read More: Foods & Drinks That Can Help You Sleep

However, overeating in the morning can make you feel more sluggish. Therefore, it's essential to find a balance where you feel satisfied but not too full, causing you to feel tired.

Researchers found that missing breakfast can negatively impact your energy and focus throughout the day. [12] You need to provide your body with good fuel to carry you through your day. Try eating healthy and sticking to whole grains, nuts, lean proteins, and low-sugar foods.

6. Take a Cold Shower

Cold showers (temperature below 70º) are a great way to feel energized in the morning. Cold showers jumpstart your body and the change in body temperature may reduce any sleepiness lingering in your body after sleep. Plus, there are additional cold shower benefits, including increasing endorphins, improving metabolism, and circulation in your body, and delivering more oxygen to the brain, which further fights off any fatigue.

Furthermore, if you’re having trouble waking up in the morning because of depression, taking cold showers may benefit you. Researchers suggest cold showers and/or plunging into icy waters may be an effective treatment for depression and higher well-being. [13,14]

Limit caffeine throughout the day

7. Strategically Use Caffeine

Many of us love a cup of coffee in the morning! It’s the 3rd or 4th cup that can become problematic. We suggest limiting your caffeine intake to 1-2 cups a day before mid-afternoon. While caffeine may help you initially in the morning, consuming a large amount of caffeine can lead you to crash, forcing your energy levels to go down even further. It can also cause problems with sleeping later that day! While caffeine seems like a good idea in the morning, it may indirectly contribute to increased fatigue later. [5]

Recently, a study reported [15] that participants felt more tired the day after consuming caffeinated drinks. Try drinking less caffeine in the morning and see if it makes you less tired.

8. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Finally, practicing good sleep hygiene is an essential part of feeling more awake in the morning. If you are not getting enough quality sleep every night, this can dramatically reduce your energy the following day.

Therefore, get enough sleep (recommended 7 to 9 hours), practice waking up and going to bed at basically the same time every day, and build a comfortable sleeping environment. Creating a sleep schedule can offer numerous benefits.

Keeping your bedroom cool can play an important role in creating the ideal environment. Sleeping in cooler temperatures makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, whereas feeling hot during the night can keep you up, disturbing your sleep cycle.

Sleep Cooler at Night

If you want to cool down your bed at night to get a comfortable deep sleep, try using one of the following sleep systems;

They keep you cool at night to get high-quality sleep and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.

Final Thought

Often it can be challenging to understand why you wake up tired. Before making drastic changes, it's recommended to make a few adjustments over time. By doing so, you can understand what is working and help you wake up without feeling tired. If nothing appears to be helping, it's best to discuss it with your primary doctor.

Citations

[1] Van Dongen, H.P. & Belenky, G. (n.d.). Alertness level. In M.D. Binder, N. Hirokawa, & U. Windhorst (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. (p. 75-77). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. View Study

[2] Hilditch, C. & McHill, A.W. (2019). Sleep inertia: Current insights. Nature and Science of Sleep, 11, 155-165. View Study

[3] Stepanski E. J. (2002). The effect of sleep fragmentation on daytime function. Sleep, 25(3), 268–276. View Study

[4] Taylor, K. & Jones, E.B. (2021). Adult dehydration. StatPearls. View Resource

[5] Trotti, L.M. (2017). Waking up is the hardest thing I do all day: Sleep inertia and sleep drunkenness. Sleep Medicine Review, 35, 76-84. View Study

[6] Choi, K., Shin, C., Kim, T., Chung, H.J., & Suke, H-J. (2018). Awakening effects of blue-enriched morning light exposure on university students' physiological and subjective responses. Nature, 9(345). View Study

[7] Gerritsen, R.J. & Band, G.P. (2018). Breath of life: The respiratory vagal stimulation model of contemplative activity. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12(397). View Resource

[8] Kovac, K., Vincent, G.E., Paterson, J.L., Reynolds, A., Aisbett, B., Hilditch, C.J., & Ferguson, S.A. (2021). The impact of a short burst of exercise on sleep inertia. Physiology & Behavior, 242, 113617. View Study

[9] University of Georgia. (2006, November 8). Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2022. View Resource

[10] Wheeler, M.J., Green, D.J., Ellis KA, et al. (2020). Distinct effects of acute exercise and breaks in sitting on working memory and executive function in older adults: a three-arm, randomized cross-over trial to evaluate the effects of exercise with and without breaks in sitting on cognition. British Journal of Sports Medicine 54:776-781. View Study

[11] Schwab, R. J. (2020). Overview of sleep. Merck Manual Consumer Version. View Resource

[12] Ackuaku-Dogbe, E. M., & Abaidoo, B. (2014). Breakfast eating habits among medical students. Ghana medical journal, 48(2), 66–70. View Study

[13] Demori, I., Piccinno, T., Saverino, D., Luzzo, E., Ottoboni, S., Serpico, D., Chiera, M., & Giuria, R. (2021). Effects of winter sea bathing on psychoneuroendocrinoimmunological parameters. Explore, 17(2). 122-126. View Study

[14] Shevchuk N. A. (2008). Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Medical hypotheses, 70(5), 995–1001. View Study

[15] Ishak, W. W., Ugochukwu, C., Bagot, K., Khalili, D., & Zaky, C. (2012). Energy drinks: psychological effects and impact on well-being and quality of life-a literature review. Innovations in clinical neuroscience, 9(1), 25–34.

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