Scientists Share Their Morning Rituals For Optimal Brain Health

Scientists Share Their Morning Rituals For Optimal Brain Health

Because modern life moves at such a rapid speed, it may be difficult to maintain a level of mental clarity. It’s possible that you’re closer to becoming a zombie than you realize, thanks to factors such as stress, tiredness, and burnout that frequently hijack your thoughts. We understand what you’re saying. Humans aren’t really built to handle the vast number of activities that the majority of us have to deal with on a daily basis, which means that we often find ourselves fighting to remain sharp and focused. One item that may possibly be of assistance? You may make your morning routine more brain-friendly by incorporating a couple of these behaviors.

It’s hard to keep a clear head in today’s fast-paced world. Stress, fatigue, and burnout can make you feel more like a zombie than you’d like to admit. We will see. Humans aren’t designed to do the multitude of tasks most of us do every day, so we often struggle to stay sharp and focused. Something that may help? Making a few brain-healthy morning habits.

My head is fogged, so whatever I’m doing to prepare for the day isn’t working (read: excess amounts of coffee, very little water, and breakfast tacos). To find out what should be done instead, I talked to neuroscientists Patrick K. Porter, PhD, creator of the meditation app BrainTap, and Kristen Willeumier, PhD, a neurobiologist and neuroimaging expert.

Continue reading to learn what these two brain health experts do every morning to prepare for the day.

photo: Stocksy/B&J
photo: Stocksy/B&J

Dr. Porter did not set an alarm.

Dr. Porter supports his morning brain health by not setting an alarm. “A loud alarm is one of the worst things you can do to your nervous system,” he says. If you must have one, he suggests a soothing tone.

Dr. Porter recommends investing in a chili pad, which he uses to ensure his body wakes up on time. It heats up my bed so I sleep at 60°F and wakes me up at 70°F, “he explains. In other words, it helps him wake up naturally, without the jolt of an alarm.

Both he and Dr. Willeumier find time for morning meditation. Dr. Willeumier says meditation reduces cortisol and epinephrine, which help regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing patterns. “It also enhances creativity, learning, focus, and attention by synchronizing the whole brain.” Consistent practice has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain’s learning and memory areas.

They prefer water to coffee to Optimal Brain Health

Neither Dr. Willeumier nor Dr. Instead, she drinks two 8-ounce glasses of plain water. “After an 8-hour or longer fast, we want to start the day with hydrating fluids,” she says. To begin, she fills two 8-ounce glasses with filtered water and one with fresh lemon.

Dr. Porter stresses hydration. He drinks three 20-ounce glasses of water before working out. Hydration, whether one glass or several, aids cognitive function. This means that their minds had to work harder than usual, according to a study by exercise physiologists at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Neither eats breakfast immediately.

Dr. Willeumier eats foods that support her intestinal microbiome because the gut affects brain health. Doctor Willeumier explains that microorganisms in our gut produce neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine), vitamins, and hormones that can affect our mood, behavior, and cognitive function. For example, the gut produces 95% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for appetite, digestion, sleep, and overall health.

Deliberately avoiding animal products, Dr. Willeumier says she relies on plant-based foods like nuts and seeds. The smoothies I make with half a banana, one-third cup oat milk, one-third cup water, one-half teaspoon cacao powder, one-half teaspoon nuts (almonds, coconut, pecans, macadamia nuts), and one tablespoon of mushroom

They fit a morning workout in.

Dr. Willeumier gets up and moves for an hour. “I start my day with running, pilates, and rowing, plus three days of resistance training,” she says. To keep your brain healthy, Dr. Porter agrees that exercise is a must. He starts with a 15–20 minute walk. This gets him moving, exposes him to mood-boosting vitamin D, and connects him to nature.

Dr. Willeumier explains that exercise has many benefits for the brain. It can help you sleep better and deal with stress and anxiety better, both of which benefit your brain. Cardio workouts specifically increase brain oxygen flow, improve neural connectivity, reduce memory loss, and increase mindfulness. Dr. Willeumier says this is because exercise increases blood circulation and releases proteins and hormones involved in brain development and plasticity.

Of course, everyone’s body is unique, so that to Optimal Brain Health, talk to your doctor about what brain-healthy habits are best for you. (Sorry, some of us will never be alarm-free!) Doctor Willeumier advises people to embrace lifestyle changes that work for them. It’s about being more aware of your daily habits and asking yourself if they benefit your long-term cognitive health. One new habit, practiced consistently over time, can significantly improve brain health and longevity. “

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