Shake off that early-morning brain fog
Delay Your Day
The problem-solving part of your brain needs time to "reboot" after sleep, so relax in bed awhile, suggests researcher Kenneth Wright, PhD, of the University of Colorado in Boulder. He says sleep inertia often fades in 10 minutes. However, if you're short on shut-eye, that morning haze can last much longer, so leave important decisions for later and don't tackle critical tasks like putting meds in a pill organizer. "Sleep inertia dulls your memory, reaction times and decision-making skills," notes Dr. Wright.
See the Light
Open the blinds and switch on all the lights. Better yet, step outside and soak up some sun. "Early light helps us wake up and feel more alert sooner than we would otherwise," says Eric Nofzinger, MD, a sleep expert at the Western Psychiatric Clinic & Institute in Pittsburgh.
Jumpstart Your Brain with Breakfast
Eating virtually any type of breakfast has been found to improve memory. However, high-fiber foods such as oatmeal provide a steady supply of glucose, the brain's main fuel.
Charge Up with Coffee
It's the drink that contains the most caffeine-and caffiene blocks a brain chemical that causes drowsiness. Within 20 minutes, a strong cup of coffee improves memory and reaction time by acting on parts of the brain that are responsible for alertness and short-term recall, according to an Austrian study that used brain scans to reveal caffeine's effects.
Sniff Yourself Sharp
Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil of peppermint onto a hankie and take a whiff. "Studies show that peppermint boosts brain activity in the area that controls wakefulness," says Bryan Raudenbush, PhD, a psychologist at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. His own research suggests that inhaling peppermint may make you feel less tired and more alert during a morning drive to work or a doctor's appointment.