Mind & Body

5 ways to start the day energised, without coffee


Struggling to get out of bed in the morning? No surprises there, it is silly season after all. But if you’re trying to cut down on your caffeine, you’ll be pleased to know there are plenty of effective alternatives. Our sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo explains.

Whether you’ve been out boozing the night before, or working late to get those last-minute projects across the line, many of us are battling fatigue.

And while you may usually reach for a coffee to get yourself going, this may not always be the best solution. If you’re suffering anxiety, the subsequent rise in adrenalin can lead to mental rumination, an inability to switch off, tension and agitation.

Similarly, if you’re sleep-deprived, research shows your nervous system reacts more strongly to the effects of caffeine – cue the symptoms above.

Needless to say, having a catalogue of (coffee-free) morning energy boosters up your sleeve will serve you well. And I’m pleased to share my top 5, as always, backed by science.

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1. Sunshine

First and foremost, research shows morning sunshine resets your circadian rhythm – your natural body clock. Immediately upon exposure, your body starts to produce serotonin, a stimulating hormone; and you stop releasing melatonin, the sleepiness hormone. Consequence to you? You naturally feel more alert – no coffee required.

Second to that, sunshine can help you synthesise Vitamin D – a micronutrient necessary for energy. As noted in clinical research, 77 percent of individuals presenting with fatigue have a deficiency – so if you’re struggling to get out of bed, this could be why.

2. Water with lemon and mint

Relying on coffee so you can string a sentence together and focus for the day ahead? Opt for sleep-friendly h2o instead. Especially if you had alcohol the night before, there’s a good chance you’re dehydrated – a factor shown in clinical trials to produce deficits in concentration, attention span and decision making to the extent of having a 0.08 blood alcohol level.

Similarly, another study found drinking three cups of water can improve reaction times by 14 percent. Make it easy for yourself and keep a bottle on your bedside table, and add lemon and mint while you’re at it too – both provide energy-boosting antioxidants.

3. Hydrotherapy

Craving that caffeine-induced high? Try hydrotherapy – as in, an ice-cold bath. As noted in a recent study, this can boost awakening hormone noradrenalin by 520 percent and feel-good hormone dopamine by 250 percent.

As a result, you’re upbeat and rearing to go. And while coffee does produce a similar effect, coffee comes at a cost: it spikes stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to feelings of stress and tension.

On the other hand, hydrotherapy does not. And if you’re not ready for the big chill, I’m pleased to say that lukewarm 20 degrees will still enhance energy – just not to the same extent.

4. Movement

Raise your heart rate for that endorphin induced energy spike, ideally outside.

Whether it’s yoga, a HIIT workout, a run or a gentle walk; both moderate and high-intensity exercise has been found in clinical trials to generate feelings of ‘pleasure and euphoria’ – mental states you may currently associate with your espresso. Further, movement promotes blood flow, enhancing physical alertness too.

5. Your favourite song

Swap your alarm for your favourite song – the neuro-association will leave you feeling perkier than ever. Research shows as a result of listening, your body produces dopamine – a hormone to increase motivation and physiological energy.

Further, if the song is upbeat, you synchronise your brainwaves into a faster pattern – enabling you to think and act with greater speed.