Saturday, September 19, 2009

How to Wake Up Without Needing “Joe” By Your Side

Are you one of the many who finds yourself dependent on coffee in order to wake yourself up in the morning, especially if you plan on sporting a smile on your face? Does your whole day seem off if your coffee machine isn’t started first thing or if you don’t swing by Starbucks on the way to work to get your daily dose of caffeine? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Coffee Association of the U.S.A., 54% of Americans drink coffee beverages daily, meaning approximately 400 million cups of coffee are consumed everyday in the U.S.

However, just because coffee is significantly popular doesn’t mean daily consumption of it is healthy, and it certainly isn’t very beneficial when it comes to keeping money in your pockets during these bleak economic times. Although coffee may provide some benefits if drank in moderation, it poses negative risks to your health when excessively consumed. Caffeine, one of coffee’s most loved properties, can contribute to anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and an interference with one’s natural sleep schedule. “The effects of caffeine can sometimes backfire, for instance if you are trying to study or really concentrate on something,” says Nicole Patience M.S., R.D., C.D.E, registered dietician at Temple University.
Because of the caffeine it contains, coffee also dehydrates the body, in the long run taking away from its rejuvenating effects. Since coffee masks the feelings of fatigue, it will often induce the body to crash later on in the day, causing an unnatural cycle of continuous crashing and artificially refueling using caffeine.
Also, due to its caffeine, coffee is addicting (which is most likely why you find yourself drinking it every morning). When consistently consumed, a withdrawal from the substance may cause symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, depression, nausea, and lack of concentration. Coffee is similar to a drug in that it causes many people to become heavily dependent on it. No one wants to have to be dependent on something else to keep a sense of sanity. So why not keep your independence and save a few bucks by waking up in a more natural way? Utilizing a combination of the following five easy options will help you to wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and happy—the natural way.

As you wake up with the sun, mimic it by stretching your body as it stretches its rays towards the sky. Recycle the time you would spend making or driving to get coffee, and instead use it to start your morning off productively by engaging in ten minutes of gentle stretching alongside the sunrise (or sun’s rays if its already finished waking up). Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles and naturally awakens the body. It also helps to relieve tension in the body and fight off any stress that you may build throughout your day. “Stretching relieves chronic tension that actually wastes energy, coming from holding the muscles in tight,” said Mick Grady, a yoga teacher and therapist at the Himalayan Institute. “By relaxing the muscles [through stretching], you regain that energy rather than just wasting it to tension.” Try engaging in a few rounds of sun salutations, a sequence containing a combination of forward and backward bends consisting of about 12 poses. “Sun salutations have a lot of variation and are a great way to start moving and invigorating the body,” said Grady. Notice how with each stretch your body slowly starts to awaken and becomes revitalized after a long night’s rest.

Put on some Michael Jackson or any of your other favorite upbeat tunes and start your body’s endorphins by shaking that body of yours. Dancing will not only wake you up by increasing the circulation in your body, but it will more than likely put a smile on your face as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, just 10 to 15 minutes of aerobic activity, such as dancing, can boost your mood. No longer will you need that cup of coffee to happily awaken you.

Breakfast: Yes, this is the time where it’s absolutely vital to chow down on some food. Breakfast stimulates your metabolism, replenishes your blood sugar, and refuels your body to give you the energy necessary to start your day. “Breaking breakfast down into ‘break’-‘fast’, breakfast means you are breaking your fast from overnight,” says Patience. “Your body uses energy while sleeping and breakfast replaces this energy. By starting to eat meals early in the day, the body can start to burn energy instead of having to conserve energy to refuel later in the day.” However, it is important to eat a nutritious breakfast that contains limited amounts of refined sugar products, which spike your blood sugar and can send you crashing later in the day. Stick with nutrient loaded fruits, which contain just enough natural sugar to perk you up without hindering energy levels later on. Choose whole grains, which are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates that will leave you full and keep you energized throughout the morning. Instead of taking the time to make a cup of coffee, energize yourself nutritiously by putting some oatmeal on the stove. Add in antioxidant-rich blueberries towards the end of cooking and top your oatmeal with a few chopped walnuts to give yourself a boost of protein. Drizzle a hint of maple syrup on top, and enjoy a healthy, naturally sweet treat that will make it almost impossible for you to miss your morning brew.
If you absolutely can’t ditch your morning caffeine, try sipping on a cup of tea, which typically contains much less caffeine than coffee. An eight-ounce serving of coffee has approximately 95 milligrams of caffeine, where as an eight-ounce serving of black tea (one of the highest caffeinated forms of tea) contains 47 milligrams, slightly less than half the amount in coffee. The subtle amount of caffeine in one cup of tea will help to awaken you without putting you as much at risk of addiction or of the negative side effects from overconsumption. “Small amounts of caffeine can be beneficial and help us be more alert during the day,” says Patience. Tea additionally provides many natural health benefits. Tea contains flavonoids and polyphenols that work as antioxidants and that help to lower the risk of certain diseases. According to WebMD, one study shows that tea has 10 times the amount of antioxidants than fruits and vegetables. Other studies have shown that green tea, which happens to contain between ½ to 1/3 of the amount of caffeine of black tea, reduces heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, a study in Japan showed that participants that drank green tea daily proved to have less memory difficulty than those who did not drink tea. So if you need something warm to replace your coffee, grab a cup of tea and simultaneously boost your antioxidant level, and maybe even your memory, while drinking.

There’s no natural way around it: your body needs sleep. In order to feel energized in the morning, getting enough of it is crucial. Without a good seven to nine hours of sleep (depending on your individual needs), you are never going to be able to feel your best, even with that cup of coffee. Sleep regenerates you and repairs any damaged cells from the day before. It is vital in order to maintain a peak level of alertness and concentration. Sleep also helps to monitor the many chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin of which high amounts are linked to depression. Therefore, sleep helps to keep you happy, the natural way, without the need of a caffeine boost. Try going to sleep an extra hour earlier and also try to stick with a consistent sleep schedule so that you will have no trouble falling asleep once you hit the pillow. The extra time spent sleeping will be worth it when you wake up feeling happy and fully refreshed, feeling no need to feed a persistent addiction. You will be able to increase your productivity as you start your morning fully concentrated and remain more awake throughout the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment