HomeScienceGeneticsHow to wake up great every morning, according to science

How to wake up great every morning, according to science

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More than 60% of Americans rarely feel rested or energized in the morning, and about 42% begin to feel tired early in the afternoon. Daytime fatigue is an increasing problem all over the world, which is not normal at all. Humans are an everyday species – we are not bats, to cry out loud.

Poor daytime wakefulness isn’t just a mood killer, it can literally kill. Thousands of people die every year from traffic accidents and work accidents due to a lack of alertness. Economically speaking, reduced daytime vigilance causes a huge loss of productivity, quantified to almost $411 billion in the US. alone, or about 2% of the nation’s GDP.

Despite the enormous cost of a lack of alertness, research on the unique factors that influence how each of us wakes up is lacking. Raphael Vallat of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues sought to fill this gap by launching an unprecedented study of 833 twins and unrelated adults to untangle the key factors that separate people who wake up feeling great from those who wake up feeling great. who feel drowsy and miserable at first. thing in the morning.

Including many pairs of twins in the study allowed the researchers to focus on genetic factors that may influence daytime wakefulness. The good news is that no such genetic factors existed, meaning anyone can drastically change how well they wake up each morning by making lifestyle changes.

Instead of genetics, the authors found that morning alertness is related to four main factors: amount/quality of sleep the night before, physical activity the day before, a high-carbohydrate breakfast, and a lower post-breakfast blood glucose response.

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Morning wakefulness is not determined by genetics. Instead, look at your lifestyle

Over the course of the two weeks that the study ran, each participant had to eat several standardized breakfast meals with different nutritional compositions. All the while, they were also required to wear wristwatches equipped with an accelerometer for physical activity tracking and sleep/wake detection, as well as a continuous glucose monitor. Participants recorded their food intake on a special app designed specifically for this study, which also prompted users to rate their alertness levels on a scale of 1 to 100 at various times throughout the day, starting with the morning just before breakfast.

After the researchers analyzed the data from the study, the first thing they noticed was how alertness was related to sleep patterns. Across the board, sleeping longer than a person’s typical sleep duration was associated with significantly higher wakefulness the following morning. That’s not surprising at all, but a more interesting finding has to do with sleep compensation. The researchers found that waking up later than a person’s typical wake-up time was associated with higher daytime wakefulness, even when the scientists controlled for sleep duration. Similarly, going to bed later than usual was associated with higher morning wakefulness.

“Sleep efficiency was not a significant predictor of morning alertness. Taken together, this first set of data shows that sleeping longer and/or later than normal is associated with higher wakefulness the next morning,” the authors wrote in their study published in Nature.

The amount of physical activity during the previous day was directly correlated with morning wakefulness the following day. However, physical activity at night predicted worse wakefulness the following day.

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In terms of diet, the researchers found that the high-carbohydrate breakfast meal, such as three muffins, was associated with higher morning wakefulness compared to other meals consisting of an average amount of fat and carbohydrates. In contrast, the high protein meal (two muffins and a milkshake) was associated with the lowest alertness compared to the reference meal. However, the strongest wakefulness the next morning was reported during the days when participants consumed pure glucose fluid for breakfast. Including caffeine with breakfast didn’t change the meaning of the other predictors, the researchers found.

The glucose meter data showed that post-breakfast glucose levels were uniquely related to next-morning alertness. A lower glycemic load after breakfast predicted higher alertness.

“As a collective, analyzes of this first part of the study show that morning wakefulness was significantly, and independently, associated with the factors (1) sleep (specifically longer sleep duration, the offset timing of later morning awakening, and slower sleep rate ). levels of exercise during the night), (2) physical activity (increased activity on the previous day), (3) breakfast composition (carbohydrate-rich meal), and (4) post-breakfast blood glucose response (lower glycemic load),” the researchers found researchers.

The researchers didn’t stop there and also tried to investigate what explains the variation in daily morning wakefulness on an individual level. The findings suggest that inter-individual variability in alertness levels is best predicted by four key factors: mood, age, sleep and eating frequency.

The happier a person felt during a week and the older they were, the higher their inherent alertness turned out to be. Conversely, those suffering from mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, were less alert.

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In terms of food intake, those who ate only 1-2 times per day reported higher morning alertness than those who ate 3-4 times, who in turn reported higher alertness than those who ate more than five times per day.

Many of the participants were pairs of identical or fraternal twins, providing a basis for the researchers to test the influence of genetics on alertness and sleep inertia. Identical twins share virtually all of their germline DNA sequences, while fraternal twins share about 50% of their inherited genetic material. Therefore, the degree to which monozygotic siblings have a higher correlation for a specific trait than fraternal siblings reflects the degree of genetic influence on this trait. But after adjusting for age and gender, the researchers couldn’t find a meaningful relationship between genetic inheritance and next-morning alertness, which was instead predicted by the four main factors outlined earlier.

“More broadly, our results reveal a range of key factors associated with alertness that are, for the most part, not fixed. Instead, most factors associated with alertness are modifiable and therefore tolerant of behavioral intervention. Such findings may help formulate public health recommendations to reduce non-trivial mortality and the financial and societal burdens caused by inadequate alertness,” the authors conclude.



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