6 Foolproof Ways to Start Every Workday Feeling Refreshed

Give your morning and nighttime routines a makeover.

learn more about Dan Scalco

By Dan Scalco

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Workers in the U.S. have a grogginess problem. One study found only one in seven Americans starts their day feeling refreshed. And that can have a very real impact on work performance.

Grogginess can contribute to irritability, stress and difficulty concentrating on the job, which is why it's consistently found to impede work performance. Plus, it's simply not enjoyable to sit down at your desk feeling like your head is stuffed with cotton.

Related: What You Need to Do to Get the Best Sleep, According to Fitbit

If your work mornings could use some refreshment, adopt the following strategies to arrive at work feeling clear-headed, focused and alert.

1. Perfect your nighttime routine.

This will come as no surprise, but one of the primary factors determining whether we wake up feeling refreshed or like a thick fog has taken up residence in our heads is whether we get enough sleep. Increase your chances of sleeping through the night by establishing a nighttime routine that sets you up for quality sleep. To that end:

  • Try to go to bed around the same time every night.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages (e.g. coffee) in the evenings. Having these substances in your system as you climb into bed can reduce your ability to fall and stay asleep.
  • Turn down the lights and the thermostat. Research finds cool, dark rooms are most conducive to quality sleep.
  • Avoid looking at screens in the hours leading up to bed. The blue light emitted by electronics can disrupt your body's ability to produce sleep-enhancing chemicals.
  • Adopt a soothing bedtime ritual, such as taking a bath or meditating for a few minutes, to help you unwind before climbing into bed.

2. Get snoring under control.

The best nighttime routine in the world won't preserve your sleep if you're a snorer. That's because snoring repeatedly disrupts the snorer's sleep patterns during the night and makes it difficult for the body to complete its REM cycles, which are critical for quality sleep. This explains why snorers are more liable to be chronically fatigued than folks whose noses don't rattle in the night.

If that sounds like bad news for the roughly 40 percent of men and 25 percent of women who snore on a regular basis, don't worry. There are a host of anti-snoring strategies that range from strengthening the throat muscles to getting in shape or utilizing special anti-snoring devices. While it might be a pain, it's worth getting snoring under control for the better sleep it will provide.

Related: 10 Bedtime Rituals That Help You Reflect, Relax, Sleep and Succeed

3. Ditch the snooze.

If you wake up feeling tired or groggy, snoozing might seem like the most natural thing in the world. Getting a few more minutes of sleep should be good for you, right? Unfortunately, that's not at all the case. When you fall back asleep, your body starts up another sleep cycle. Because the earlier stages of the cycle include deeper sleep, when the alarm goes off again it's especially jarring for the body. In fact, snoozing can actually leave you feeling worse than you did when the alarm first went off. You're better off getting right out of bed when the alarm sounds for the first time. If that's not cutting it, compromise by investing in a clock or app that wakes you up gradually.

4. Take your time.

Speaking of alarm clocks, make sure you're setting the clock early enough to give you ample time to get ready each morning. Rushing around in a mad dash to get to work does not leave you refreshed. On the other hand, giving yourself a couple of hours to get ready will allow you to ease into the day at your own pace. Just make sure you're using this time in ways that contribute to your peace of mind. (That means checking your email is a no-go. It'll just leave you feeling stressed and harried before the workday has even begun.) Reading, journaling, working out and meditating are all good ideas.

5. Step outside (or at least open the blinds).

Morning exposure to natural light can give you a boost of energy and help you wake up faster. You'll reap the best benefits if you stay outside for 20 to 30 minutes, but even a few minutes of sunlight exposure can help clear out brain fog. You'll enhance these effects if you take a stroll. Getting your blood pumping can further increase alertness and energy.

6. Prioritize nutrition in the morning.

A well-balanced breakfast that includes healthy protein, carbs and fats can provide you with a burst of energy and enough fuel to sustain this energy through the morning. At the very least, make sure to drink plenty of water in the morning. Even being slightly dehydrated can contribute to brain fog, difficulty concentrating and headaches.

Related: 5 Healthy Hacks to Help You Eat Right, Exercise and Maintain Good Habits During Your Busy Schedule

Many of Silicon Valley's elite are taking vitamin and herb supplements such as nootropics in their morning routine to help get their mind in the right state before starting work. Nootropics come in a lot of different forms -- even chewable coffee cubes -- so it can be easy to use and get on your way.

Wrapping up.

These strategies may seem pretty basic, and that's really the point. Building healthy habits means starting simple. Regardless of whether you work for yourself or a big business, maintaining consistent, healthy nighttime and morning routines is the surest way to start every workday feeling refreshed.

Dan Scalco

Founder and director of growth at Digitalux

Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital-marketing agency located in Hoboken, N.J. In his free time he blogs about focus, productivity, and nootropics at BrainWiz.org.

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