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How to improve your mood in the morning

April 12, 2023

The lifestyle you lead may have a greater impact on your mood than genetic factors. This is the finding of a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley (USA), and published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers analyzed the role of genetic versus non-genetic factors in influencing the morning alertness level of individuals. According to the study, the quality of sleep, the practice of physical exercises the day before, and the composition of breakfast directly impact the degree of attention that people have in the morning. In contrast, genetic factors have been shown to cause only a “moderate effect” on this same issue.

For two weeks, 833 people between the ages of 18 and 65 recorded their food intake and alertness on an app. Participants also wore a wristwatch accelerometer throughout the study period to facilitate the collection of data on their sleep profile and physical activity levels. The volunteers rated their attention levels on a scale of 0 to 100. The first recording was made at the start of breakfast, and then intermittently over the subsequent three hours. Then, based on each participant’s sleep profile, the researchers found an association between sleep duration and timing with morning alertness levels.

Researchers then examined the impact of the macronutrient composition of breakfast on morning alertness. Those responsible for the study found that consumption of a carbohydrate-rich breakfast was associated with higher levels of morning alertness than meals that contained moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrates. Protein-rich breakfast, on the other hand, was associated with even lower levels of alertness.

On the other hand, the scientists found that genetic factors had only a small influence on individuals’ alertness levels, suggesting a more significant impact from modifiable lifestyle factors. According to the study authors, people can spend anywhere from a few minutes to several hours after awakening in a state of “sleep inertia,” a phase of impaired alertness and performance that occurs between sleep and wakefulness and that, while a common phenomenon, can have a profound impact on individuals’ productivity and safety. To avoid this state, the research concluded that delaying the start time of activities and avoiding high glycemic index foods at breakfast can lead the body to an optimal state of alertness.

“We hope that our findings may help inform public health recommendations to optimize alertness. This may be especially germane in the context of education, where alertness is essential for effective knowledge acquisition in the classroom. Here, our results suggest that delaying school times and avoiding high-glycemic-response breakfast may lead to optimal alertness throughout the morning,” study author Dr. Matthew Walker, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, told Medical News Today.

Source: Nature Communications | Medical News Today | Valor Econômico