HUFFINGTON POST
11/24/2014 07:00 am ET Updated Feb 26, 2015

Jump Start Your Brain With These 6 Morning Habits

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Not everyone is a morning person. Whether you're the type of person who hits snooze seven times or you jump out of bed, ready to tackle the day, you probably find your brain needs a little warm-up time before you take on the challenges of the day. A hefty jolt of caffeine can help, but past studies have found that once you're addicted to caffeine, all that trip to Starbucks does is prevent withdrawal symptoms.

Whether you're a morning person or not, there are things you can do to help make your mind sharper before you start your workday.

1. Exercise

As tempting as it might be to hit the snooze button and get 15 more minutes of sleep, it actually is much more beneficial for you to get out of bed, put on your workout clothes, and go for a brisk walk or run. Exercise increases blood flow throughout your body, including in your brain. If a morning walk isn't an option, try dancing or going through a series of stretches to loosen tight muscles and get your blood pumping.

2. Eat the Right Foods

That morning pastry could actually be slowing you down. That short burst of energy you'll get from the sugar and carbohydrates is only temporary, to be followed by a crash that leads to feelings of fatigue and hunger and makes concentrating difficult. If it's your habit to grab a doughnut or toaster pastry on your way out the door, try instead keeping healthy snacks on hand that can be consumed on your way to work.

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3. Get Cold

It may feel better to get out of bed to a warm house and step in a warm shower, but all of that warmth does little to chase away the grogginess. For a quick wake-up, splash ice-cold water on your face and, if you're feeling really brave, turn the shower on cold for a few seconds before heating the water up. Once you're dressed and out of the house, keep your car cold for a while to wake your mind up.

4. Let the Light In

Waking up in a dark room makes it even more difficult to wake up. As soon as your alarm goes off, open the blinds and let as much light into your room as possible. The light lets your brain know it's time to get up. If you can, drink your morning cup of coffee (or something else) on your patio, basking in the sunlight for a few minutes.

5. Get Enough Sleep

Instead of staying up late to work on a project or watch your favorite TV show, go to bed early. While the number of necessary hours of sleep varies from person to person, many people are suffering a sleep deficit without even realizing it. The consequences of too little sleep include memory problems, depression, and a weakening of the immune system, leading to a higher risk of getting sick.

6. Try Shifting Your Schedule

If you find you're groggy in the morning, admit that your schedule might not be working. Try shifting it to allow you to get up a half-hour later, even if it means working a half-hour later in the afternoon. You could also try shifting some of your morning activities to the night before to allow yourself to sleep 15 minutes later in the morning.

For many professionals, getting started each day can be challenging. By changing your schedule slightly to incorporate activities to make you more alert, you can overcome your grogginess and start your day on the right foot.

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