By Kristen Rogers, CNN
An hour after getting out of bed, you still feel sleepy and haven’t started tackling your big tasks for the day. You want some pep in your step, but drinking coffee can make you so anxious you feel like you can climb walls. Or are you trying to kick a caffeine habit?
Many people are stressed these days, and sometimes they want to feel energized but not jittery or overwhelmed, said Nancy Z. Farrell Allen, Registered Nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
For some people, coffee can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea, Farrell Allen added. Some people with heart problems might not drink coffee if it increases their heart rate or blood pressure.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is still the best way to ensure you get good rest through the night and feel more stable energy during the day. But if you’re working on improving your sleep regimen or still need a little help, here are six quick ways to wake up without relying on that morning brew.
1. Do a 5-minute yoga routine
Doing a brief yoga session in the morning can dramatically improve energy levels, according to Stephanie Mansour, CNN wellness and fitness contributor and weight loss coach for women.
You’ll wake up your body by improving circulation and releasing stiffness or pain, and jump-start your brain by “creating feel-good endorphins from your yoga moves,” Mansour says.
Any movement that puts your arms above your head, stretches the back of your legs, or gets your heart rate up will help increase energy, Mansour added. “I focus on stretching the chest, then the back and lower body to improve circulation and energy.”
This is also what Farrell Allen does.
“When I woke up in the morning in my youth, my mother would sometimes notice how sluggish I was and say, ‘OK, 10 puppets to wake you up,'” Farrell Allen said. She always starts her day with exercise after hydrating.
2. Go out
Waking up your body and mind through movement is “much more natural and long-lasting than an energy boost from coffee,” Mansour said, and doing it outdoors can double the potential benefits.
“The cardio and getting your heart rate up…serves as an energy boost,” Mansour said via email. “A morning walk can also be peaceful and give you a change of perspective because you see different things – the sky, the trees, nature, etc. Walking outside increases your energy because of the temperature – even if it’s hot instead of cold outside, it wakes up the body.
3. Play upbeat music
Listening to upbeat music in the morning might give your step a boost, especially if you do it while exercising.
According to a 2020 study, music with a high tempo equivalent to around 170 heartbeats per minute can boost mood before exercise, alleviate perceptions of pain and fatigue during a workout, and improve performance and endurance. .
Not sure how fast it is? Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is at 171 beats per minute while Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind” is at 173 BPM and Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl” is at 199 BPM. Feeling more like a Swiftie? Taylor Swift’s “Untouchable” is at 200 BPM.
4. Hydrate for health
After a night’s sleep, your body tends to lack hydration, which is “important for many brain and body functions,” said Farrell Allen. When your organs – like the kidneys – have to function in an insufficiently hydrated environment, the energy cost is higher, according to a 2011 study on water, hydration and health.
“I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is have a 10-ounce glass of tap or slightly warmed water with a squeeze of lemon,” Farrell Allen said. “It’s my go-to to help me start the day.” (Add to that her morning exercise, and she’s ready.)
5. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy — the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for inhalation, massage or therapeutic baths — may work for some people, Farrell Allen said. Or just change soap. “Shower with an energizing shower gel like citrus,” she said.
You can also bring coffee into your life through other products, she said. “There is a coffee-scented body wash on the market that I like to use only in the morning. You could (also) light a coffee-scented candle during breakfast.
6. Smart snack
A meal of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich, complex carbohydrate sources releases blood sugar at a slower rate, supporting longer-lasting energy.
This type of breakfast is what Farrell Allen suggested to his patients looking for a morning energy boost.
“Typically mine includes low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt, topped with berries, granola, and nuts,” she said.
“My family loves my pumpkin bread and zucchini bread recipes. I prepare them in advance for a quick take in the morning. For a protein boost, Farrell Allen also includes an egg, egg substitute, cheese slices or cottage cheese.
Farrell Allen’s other high-protein, high-fiber breakfast ideas include:
- Avocado on whole wheat bread (with an egg if desired), sprinkled with any bagel seasoning
- Brown rice pudding with cinnamon and walnuts, which can be made ahead and reheated quickly
- Farro breakfast bowls, which could be made sweet and filling by adding ground cinnamon, apples or berries, or pecans or walnuts. Or go the savory route with a Mediterranean-style bowl featuring tomatoes, olives, cucumber and feta; or a bowl with eggs, avocado and spinach.
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CNN’s Sandee LaMotte contributed to this story.