5 Scientific Ways to Wake Up Your Brain and Have a Better Morning

Say goodbye to the snooze button for good.

By Wanda ThibodeauxCopywriter, TakingDictation.com

We’ve all been there, groggily stumbling through finding clothes, scarfing bites of toast, and trying to find our car keys (sneaky little buggers). With a little help from neuroscience, though, you can tweak your routine so it’s easier for your brain to quickly, fully come on board after you wake up, regardless of whether you get up whenever you darn well feel like it or have a 4:00 a.m. habit.

1. Drink water.

Yep, just the plain old clear stuff. After sleeping all night, your body is dehydrated. Not beef jerky dehydrated, of course, but remember, human beings are up to 60 percent water. The cells in your brain are mostly water, too–in fact, water makes up about 73 percent of your noodle. In addition to flushing away waste, regulating temperature and helping cells grow and survive, water is required for jobs like making neurotransmitters and hormones, which influence everything the brain does. Researchers assert that if you don’t top off the tank, dehydration can impair both short and long-term memory, as well as attention.

Everyone’s water needs are unique, but somewhere between 12 and 20 ounces is a good starting target. The best way to tell what you need is just to keep an eye on the color of your urine and drink more water the darker yellow it is. If you’re running totally clear, you’re probably actually getting too much and can back off.

If you really can’t deal with plain water, the good news is, coffee is an acceptable cheat. (Insert sweet fist-bump here, am I right?) It can have a mild diuretic effect, but that effect isn’t enough to increase dehydration risk, especially if you opt for decaf, and the water used for the coffee still counts toward overall fluid intake.

2. Listen to fast-paced music.

Brain waves actually will synchronize somewhat to the pace of what you’re listening to, meaning that more upbeat tracks help move the brain into a more active state. Genre fortunately doesn’t matter one crumb here, so whether you pick Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee or Williams’ Happy, your smartspeaker wake-to-music alarm can help you out.

3. Get light.

Light is critical to regulating your circadian rythym. When it hits your eyes, it stimulates a nerve pathway that connects the retina and hypothalamus in the brain. From there, a specific part of the hypothalamus, the suprachiasmatic nuleus (SCN), tells other parts of your brain to mess with body temperature, hormones and other factors that wake you up. Natural light is ideal, but since sunrise usually doesn’t match when most people have to get going, and since it can be harder in urban areas to get unobstructed sun, try a light-based alarm clock. These are designed to start brightening the room a little before you have to get out of bed.

4. Do light exercise.

The idea that inverted exercises (think downward dog in Yoga) increase blood flow to the brain is a huge myth–the body has protective mechanisms to keep the brain’s environment consistent. Stretching also isn’t a warmup–muscles respond best to it when they’re already warm, meaning it’s best to do after you’ve already been moving a bit. But light exercise does get general circulation going better, and that does have a positive influence on the oxygen and nutrients the brain gets. So do some jumping jacks, go for a quick walk with the dog, or pop in your favorite workout video to tell your brain to pay attention.

5. Take a cold shower.

Exposing yourself to a cold shower triggers a host of biological processes in your body, such as increasing blood flow, increasing neurotransmitters, and upping your respiration. These give you a small burst of energy and can even put you in a better mood. If you still need some anecdotal evidence to be convinced, Inc. Tested tried out the cold shower routine and concluded the benefits are real.




So there you have it.  I do the coffee thing, the music thing, the sunshine thing, but the cold shower will be hot, the exercise can wait.  Whose with me ?


Cutting One Ingredient Helped This Guy Lose 150 Pounds in 9 Months

At 23 years old, Ben Pamment ran out of excuses. The 6-foot New Zealander found himself weighing in at just over 313 pounds, and experiencing anxiety and depression. Though he suffered a knee injury years earlier, he could no longer think of a reason for being so unhealthy.

Guy loses 100 lbs

But, after “breaking up” with his best friend-sugar-he pulled off a staggering 156-pound weight loss transformation in nine short months, and found himself in a much healthier mental state, too.

“My life before it all happened had been very difficult,” Pammet told Men’s Health. “I was roughly always around the 253-pound mark, so I was always a bigger guy. I just never looked at it that way-as that’s who I always was, and who my friends and family always knew me to be.”

For Pammet, his “downward spiral” began with that fateful knee injury in his early 20s. He proceeded to use it as an excuse to get out of just about everything in his life.

“I would sit around and wait for something good to happen to me rather than getting out there and doing something to change the situation,” he said.

This period of waiting for something better to come along lasted for more than two years. In that time, Pammet said he “developed serious anxiety and depression where I basically closed myself off away from the world, and food and sugar became my two best friends.”

One day, Pammet woke up and simply had enough. He was tired of being alone, without friends, and missing out on a life that was quickly passing him by. The one thing he had to overcome was the fear of his family and friends judging his new larger body.

“I would avoid family events and going out because they hadn’t seen what I had become through my years of body abuse through bad habits and eating,” he said.

But this fear ended up being the catalyst to push himself to become the absolute best version of himself. The first step for Pammet was reevaluating his eating habits and changing them for the better.

“It was incredibly hard, and I fell off the wagon a few times, but if you want something enough you will get there,” he said. For him, the biggest challenge was avoiding sugar altogether. (Think it’s easy to cut sugar out of your daily routine? Here’s what really happens to your body when you cut out sugar.)

Next, he joined a gym. Though he was plagued with an injury and overweight, as an athlete, Pammet knew what to do and set small goals for himself that kept his fitness progressing. He did so through mixing a short interval cardio routine with a weight circuit five days a week.

Just three weeks into his new lifestyle, Pammet’s mother sent him a photo. In those 21 days, Pammet lost about 22 pounds. And it showed.

“The change was dramatic,” Pammet explained. “I posted it onto social media, as I was very proud. I was overwhelmed with support and comments and from there onward I felt like I had to keep going not only for myself but others as I’d become a role model and I didn’t want to show everyone I was a quitter.”

Another benefit of his weight loss was his knee pain slowly subsiding. As he continued to lose weight, the pressure slowly released, and his muscles continued to get stronger.

“I just had to take it day by day and do things that didn’t put stress on my joint but still giving my body the workout that it needed,” he said. “There were mentally challenging times, too, and times I would go home in tears or wanted to give up. But I always remembered that the bigger picture was the ultimate goal and the feeling I would get when I achieved it.”

And achieve it, he did. In nine short months, Pammet dropped to 162 pounds, marking a 156-pound weight loss.

“To reach the weight that I have is still crazy to me, as it hasn’t even been a year of my life,” he said. “It feels like I’ve been doing it for years but at the same time, it’s flown past so fast.”

Now, Pammet said his “whole mental state” has completely changed. He’s now able to share a side of himself he never knew existed with those around him. “My mindset and thought pattern has changed dramatically everything about the mental side has changed, and I’m very positive, where 11 months ago you wouldn’t even whisper the word positive and associate it with me,” he said.

As for advice he’d give others? “You only get out what you put in,” Pammet said.

“If you want something bad enough you will get it,” he added. “Start slow, and set yourself very small goals that you know you can achieve. When you do achieve them, you will feel amazing and continue to set more and more goals. Always keep them realistic and in sight.”



A 15-Minute Cardio Workout You Can Do at Home to Burn Calories—Fast

Cardio workouts are one of the most effective ways to burn the most calories and shed body fat. In fact, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that running on a treadmill can burn more calories than doing kettlebell swings at the same level of effort. But there are plenty of other ways to get a good sweat sesh in without counting down the miles.

“Mixing up your workout makes you not only the healthiest version of yourself, but also the happiest,” says Larysa DiDio, celebrity trainer and host of Tone Up in 15, a fitness DVD with five different 15-minute workouts you can do each week.

Research shows that diversifying your workouts revs up your enthusiasm and can lead to better results by challenging different muscle groups. If your cardio workout has slumped into blah territory, this 15-minute cardio workout will make you excited to slip on your sneakers and get your heart pumping. It will strengthen your upper- and lower-body, as well as your core. The best part? You only need a yoga mat and a pair of light dumbbells. DiDio recommends doing this workout five days a week, or pairing one of the exercises with a brisk walk. Trust us—you’ll see the results!


Mick Jagger’s Heart Valve Surgery Recovery

The Rolling Stones frontman says he is “working very hard to be back on stage” ASAP.



Brian Rasic Getty Images

Last Thursday, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger underwent heart valve replacement surgery. The 75-year-old rocker was “devastated” to cancel the North American leg of the band’s No Filter tour, but just one day after surgery, Jagger took to Facebook to thank his fans for their support. “Thank you everyone for all your messages of support, I’m feeling much better now and on the mend—also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job,” he wrote.

Jagger’s younger brother, Chris, said in a recent interview with The Sunday People that the singer is lucky to be alive after a scan revealed that he had a heart condition similar to one that killed The Clash star Joe Strummer at age 50.

“Mick is doing OK. I spoke to him…he’s good. It just showed up on a scan so it could happen to anybody, you know,” Jagger said. “It happened to Joe. He came back from walking the dogs and his wife found him collapsed on the sofa. He had this valve problem,” Jagger said. “His father died from it. It was hereditary. With Mick, it came on a check-up.”

Jagger seemed to suggest that this heart condition might have convinced Mick to take some time off and postpone the rest of the tour. Fortunately, Jagger is recovering well after surgery and is taking some time now to rest up and fully heal.

Billboard reported that the No Filter tour will pick up in July with new dates to be announced after Jagger completes his recovery. So, what exactly does a heart valve replacement entail? Here, doctors explain how heart valve surgery works, any risks to expect, and what recovery looks like.

What is heart valve surgery, exactly?

Heart valve surgery is done to treat heart disease, an issue with one of the four valves in your heart that keep your blood flowing in the right direction, according to the Mayo Clinic. Each valve has flaps that open and close during a heartbeat and, when they don’t open or close the way they should, it can disrupt the blood flow through your heart and body.

During heart valve surgery, a doctor will either repair or replace the affected valves. This can be done during one of several different surgeries, including open heart surgery and minimally invasive heart surgery, says Marc Gillinov, MD, chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic

There are a few options when it comes to replacing a valve, the American Heart Association says. Those include inserting a mechanical valve, a human or animal donor valve, and “borrowing” a healthy valve and moving it to the spot where you have damage.

Timing of the surgery depends on what you’re having done, but it can run from about an hour for a catheter-based valve replacement to four hours for a more standard surgical procedure, Dr. Gillinov says.

What are the risks of heart valve surgery?

Heart valve surgery definitely comes with complications, and they can be serious. According to the Mayo Clinic, risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Valve dysfunction in a replacement valve
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke

All of these complications can potentially be fatal. However, if you’re having surgery done at an experienced center, the risks are usually pretty low, Dr. Gillinov says. “The risk of not getting through the operation should be less than one in 100,” he says.

What does recovery look like after heart valve surgery?

People usually spend a day or so in the intensive care unit, Dr. Gillinov says. Afterward, they’re moved to a regular hospital room for several days of monitoring and pain management. Overall, people can expect about two weeks of recovery with a catheter-based procedure (the kind that Jagger reportedly had), three to four weeks with a robotic surgery, and six to eight weeks with an open heart procedure, Dr. Gillinov says. Regardless, most people “will be walking around in a few days,” he adds.

Still, “it takes about a good month of recovery to really get the patient back to their normal activities,” says Gabriele Di Luozzo, MD, director of aortic surgery at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s in New York. “But we tell patients that once you’re at home, you can do 80 to 85 percent of your normal activities.”

He advises his patients to be active and take daily walks after they’re discharged. “I like to see patients walking two miles a day by the time they’re back to see me in three to four weeks,” Dr. Di Luozzo says. As for someone super-active like Jagger, it may take a little more time to get back to 100 percent—but it looks like he will back on stage in no time.