No matter how many times you press the snooze button, the sun winking through your drapes and that blaring alarm tell you there’s no use fighting the fact that morning has arrived.
If, like many college students, you find yourself stumbling out of bed and barely making it to class on time, juggling your books and a super-sized mug of hazelnut latte, it may be time to rethink your morning routine. While getting enough sleep is the obvious answer to bleary eyes and foggy brains, in the world of late-night cramming sessions and furious paper-writing, that’s not always an option. But neither is sitting through class in a daze while feeling like your brain is still sound asleep.
So what’s a sleep-deprived college student to do?
For starters, try to avoid eating anything sugary in the morning. If you can’t wake up without your cup of joe, go easy on the sugar or choose a calorie-free sweetener. Flushing your bloodstream with sugar first thing in the morning will only backfire later on in the day because it will cause a severe sugar crash about two hours after consumption. This dip in blood sugar can bring with it a release of hormones that can affect concentration and memory. Not exactly what you need while sitting through a double class of Anatomy and Physiology.
Aside from cutting down on the sugar, be proactive in getting your brain awake. Give it the jump-start it needs in the morning with these amazingly quick, economical and brain-boosting breakfast ideas:
- Go for the grain. Anyone who’s ever read the back of a cereal box already knows that eating a good breakfast helps kids perform better in school. As countless studies show, children who had consistently eaten breakfast outperformed those who hadn’t, topping them in visual, spatial and memory tests. The glucose found in most breakfasts is brain food. It’s able to help get those neurons moving and allowing for quicker synapses so new information can be loaded, processed and stored. Bring it on, professors!
- Oatmeal obsession. If you can spare a few minutes, grab a bowl of oatmeal. In a test conducted by Tufts University, children who had eaten sweetened oatmeal for breakfast were given academic tasks to complete, as were children whose breakfasts had been sweetened cereals. The oatmeal eaters did up to 20% better than the cereal eaters. A brain that’s working better is the perfect thing to bring with you to class!
- Protein power. To keep your brain powered up, the first meal of the day should also be rich in protein. Most of us don’t have time to start whipping up omelets in between throwing on clothing, grabbing our books and finding a working pen. But you can add protein to your breakfast with these quick shortcuts:
- Sprinkle slivered nuts into your cereal or smoothie.
- Grab a Greek yogurt.
- Pour some protein powder into your smoothie.
- Banana break. If you’ve only got time to grab a piece of fruit, a banana is the perfect choice. They are loaded with vitamin B6, which aids in the production of serotonin and dopamine – both of which support concentration. Just what you need to get you through your morning classes.
- Awesome apples. Though the claim that apples have more caffeine than coffee is nothing but a widespread myth, the sugar boost you get from an apple – or any fruit – will keep you going when you’re on empty. Because you’re eating it as part of a fruit and not as processed sugar, the sweetener will digest slowly, which prevents the inevitable crash of added sugar.
- Whole wheat crackers and avocado combo. Though quite a leap from the iconic American breakfast of toast, scrambled eggs and bacon, the healthy fats packed in avocados will enhance communication between brain cells, allowing you to focus and function to the max.
- Yogurt smoothie sensation. Yogurt is a known producer of dopamine, famous for boosting alertness. Use it as a base for a super-delicious smoothie, or have it straight from the cup. Either way, you’ll be doing your brain a favor!