How to Feel More Alert
Published on June, 15th 2017
By Greg Wells
Decreased alertness is a huge hindrance to thinking and, ultimately, performing at a high level. There are many factors that can help you feel more (or less) alert. These six ways to feel more alert are changes you can easily make to your life, starting today!
Get Great Sleep
Sleep is a highly active metabolic process that helps optimize our brain structure and restore energy levels. Sleep has a powerful effect on mental performance and concentration.
From a cognitive function perspective, our brains imprint memory, learning, and tasks during sleep and allow us to get better at those tasks.
Research shows that lack of sleep causes decreased alertness, attention, vigilance, perception, memory, and thinking. Lack of sleep decreases your ability to learn, think, and remember.
Get the sleep you need every night to support the alertness required for your daily activities.
Learn Your Personal Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain. Your circadian rhythm dips and rises at different times of the day, cycling between sleepiness and alertness, and causing you to be more alert at certain times of the day.
These times can vary person-to-person. Keep a daily log and note your energy levels each hour throughout the day. Once aware of your natural rhythms, craft your ideal day, aligning your tasks and schedule with your body’s natural rhythms to take advantage of your high mental energy times.
Drink Coffee (But Only in the Morning)
Good news: Drinking coffee boosts brain power.
Caffeine is one of the most powerful known stimulants. It promotes blood flow to the brain, increasing concentration and attention, and improving mental performance.
Coffee is perfect for getting you going in the morning and getting you fired up for important tasks during the day.
Research shows that naps improve energy, productivity, and cognitive function.
Professor Matthew Walker at UC Berkeley has found that sleeping at night and during the day not only helps with mental recovery and regeneration but can make us smarter as well.
As you can see in the chart below, a 20-minute power nap has been proven to specifically improve alertness, energy, and memory:
● Micro-nap (2–5 minutes) Decrease sleepiness and improve cognitive performance.
● Mini-nap (10 minutes) Improve mental performance, decrease fatigue.
● Power nap (20 minutes) Improve alertness, energy, and memory.
Nutrition can also help us feel more (or less) alert. There are foods that can help students do better on exams or help workers concentrate better in the afternoon. Food helps us perform better at academics and business.
For example, I’ve noticed that I’m clear-headed after eating lean protein and vegetables. While I definitely noticed that my thinking was cloudy and I struggled mentally when I ate baked goods from my local coffee shop in the morning.
Focus on eating real, whole foods and you will see your alertness increase.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Our brains work best when we focus on one thing at a time. Instead, we are constantly distracted and try to multitask because our world is not set up for deep focus and concentration.
To improve alertness, try single-tasking and working in 90-minute blocks, followed by 30 minutes of recovery. With this method, you can get in four or five great blocks of high-performance work each day.
Ultimately, your commitment to concentrating for a period, and pausing to recover and regenerate, will result in more alertness and better performance.
I hope this article was helpful!
If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.
Also please subscribe to my podcast in iTunes!