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Researchers ID three key factors for waking up alert and refreshed


Photo: LaylaBird/iStockphoto

Not a morning person? Researchers say a three-part regimen of substantial exercise the day before, sleeping longer and later in the morning, and eating a breakfast low in sugar and high in complex carbohydrates will help you start your day more alert and refreshed.

The researchers asked 833 adults – for a two-week period – to eat a variety of breakfast meals; wear a wristwatch that would record their physical activity as well as sleep quantity, quality, timing and regularity; keep a diary of their food intake; and record their alertness levels throughout the day, starting from the moment they woke up.

In addition to identifying those three factors for combating daytime sluggishness, the researchers found that a healthy controlled blood glucose response after eating breakfast is key to waking up more effectively.

“You can see improvements with each and every one of these factors,” said lead study author Raphael Vallat, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. “All of these have a unique and independent effect.”

For instance, higher levels of daytime physical activity – and lower levels at night – equated to more continuous and less disrupted sleep. Participants who exhibited higher levels of nighttime activity reported lower levels of morning alertness the next day.


A lack of alertness in the morning is more than just an annoyance, notes study co-author Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley.

“From car crashes to work-related accidents, the cost of sleepiness is deadly,” Walker said. “It costs developed nations billions of dollars every year through loss of productivity, increased health care utilization and work absenteeism.”

The study was published online in the journal Nature Communications.

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