How To Improve Brain Power On A Sluggish Day

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We’ve all been there… your  alarm goes off in the morning and you zombie-walk across your house going through the getting-ready motions; you would give anything crawl back in bed to catch up on your missing 6 to 20 hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, life typically has other plans for you and needs you to wake up bright-eyed and ready to approach the day with full-steam ahead. And while you can attempt to tackle your work in that half-asleep zombie mode, there is no doubt that your productivity will suffer.

To help you gear up for a productive day — even on those mornings with a 5am wake up call — we’ve compiled a list of our favorite tips that will help you escape the early morning daze. From waking-up at the best time for your body to getting some fresh air at lunch, these tips will help to improve your brain power and your overall well-being.

Set Your Alarm For The Best Time For You

Work expects you to get started and clock-in by a certain time each day, and only a few people have the luxury of working from home and letting their body wake up naturally. For the rest of us, we often battle between getting enough sleep and being on time for work. (Why is it that those two things never seem to go hand-in-hand?) Luckily, there are many apps and resources out there that help you determine the best time to go to sleep and wake up in the morning so that you feel refreshed and on your game.

IMG_5115 Bedtime Calculator is one of our favorite tools for determining what time you should go to bed. This calculator takes into account the time you want to wake up in the morning and when your body will be in between sleep cycles, then suggests the best time for you to go to bed so you wake up feeling alert (all without interrupting your important REM-sleep). Another great tool is the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock app for iPhone and Android. This app actually tracks your sleep patterns based on your body’s nighttime movements. It then analyzes your sleep phases and wakes you up when you are in your lightest mode, ensuring that you feel refreshed and not jarred out of a deep dream. For example, as shown in the image above, my Sleep Cycle app woke me up at 5:33am, rather than 5:30am (when my alarm was set) because that is when I was in my lightest mode of sleep.

Watch the Sunrise

If you get to work after the sun comes up in the morning, take advantage of this gorgeous natural light and take a few minutes to watch the sunrise. Sunlight can actually help to bring your mind to attention and increase the levels of Melatonin in your system — the perfect remedy for driving away that sleepy feeling in the morning. Plus, the sun’s natural light can also help to activate and stimulate production of Vitamin D in your skin, which helps to boost your energy levels. (Double points and double energy if you watch the sunrise while sipping on your morning cup of Joe.)


Our Hello Aerial team makes it a point to always watch (and capture) sunrises on their location shoots, such as the one above in Blue Ridge Parkway, VA.

Listen to Stimulating Music

Most people like the idea of waking up calmly and dreamily to melodic sounds and easy alarm bells. However, playing slow, low-tempo music will only cause you to drift back to La La Land in the morning. Instead, you should be listening to exactly the opposite. High energy, upbeat music can help your mind enter the realm of productivity (and can get your blood pumping and your feet moving). Here at the HI office, we continuously play upbeat music (and mix up our own beats in our studio, below) to set a high-energy, productive mood.


But if you can’t handle bumping bass or listening to techno-pop while enjoying your first cup of coffee, there is one type of music that has the same high-energy effect, without the intense tempo — video game soundtracks. The upbeat, repetitive music that typically plays in the background of video games (think classics like Super Mario Brothers or Street Fighter) is specifically designed to foster achievement and help players reach the next level of their game. However, many people have found that it also activates a similar “in it to win it” mentality while working on tough projects that require concentration.

Eat Healthy Foods In The Morning

Many people have heard the popular mantra that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s very true! Your body needs a strong, well-rounded base of energy and nutrients to function properly, as does your brain. Avoid excessively high-sugar foods in the morning and try to incorporate at least one serving of fruit or vegetables into your breakfast. Also, make sure you don't overeat early in the morning, or you may experience that common big-meal bloated feeling that will make you want to lay down and rest all morning.


In addition to eating healthy in the morning, continue to have a few small, healthy snacks on hand throughout the rest of the day to keep your energetic, productive mood high. Here at the HI office, we enjoy mixing up some antioxidant-packed drinks from our Juice Bar. A quick shot of wheatgrass (above) or a nice big mug full of Green Tea are both excellent, healthy choices to keep your mind revving.

Get Organized

A chaotic desk or work environment can easily make your mind become overwhelmed and boggle your ability to have a successful day. Try to organize your workspace before you jump into your daily tasks to help you fend-off the "I-want-to-sleep" mindset. Even better, take the last 10 minutes of your work day to clean your space and prepare for the next day’s tasks.


If you do need to have a dozen papers or files on your desk, arrange them in the order that you need them or consider putting them in a file folder. This will allow you to have all of your things right in reach, but still “out of sight” and organized.  In addition to pre-arranging your workplace the night before, you may also find that preparing your clothing, briefcase, or lunch bag the the night before you leave for work is super helpful as well. A well-organized mind is sure to keep procrastination and sluggish days at bay.

Engage Your Mind with Activities

If you get to the office and you find that your mind is still lagging, try participating in some fun, mind-stimulating activities. This will help to get your mind in the mood to work, as well as provide a strong blood flow to your mind and body. (Plus, it is a great way to form positive relationships with your coworkers!) You will constantly find our HI employees going up against one another at foosball, ping-pong or even shooting hoops. As you can see from the photo below, we take more than enough game breaks here in our office.


While you may think that goofing around and taking a break to play games may be counter-intuitive to being productive at work, these activities actually offer your mind a much-needed break. You’ll be amazed how much better you will be able to concentrate when you give your mind the breather it needs.

Get Outside And Get Moving

Sure, you may get in some exercise while playing physically demanding games at work, but your body needs consistent reinforcement to help keep your mind sharp throughout the day. So when you take a break to head to your favorite lunch spot, ride a bike on your way to grab a bite to eat. Or if you brought your lunch to work, take a 10 minute break after you eat to go for a brief walk. This will help refresh and re-energize your mind for the afternoon, while also giving you the benefits of exercise and a nice change of scenery.


Repeat Every Day

When it comes to keeping your mind engaged and productive, the most important factor is consistency. Every day you should keep up with a set routine of when you go to bed, when you wake up and what you do to feel energized. By training you mind what to expect, you will reap the rewards of increased critical thinking skills, willingness to get things completed, and you avoid the dreaded want-to-stay-in-bed-for-hours feeling each morning.

Do you have any other great tips for breaking out of your sluggish morning mindset and improving brain power? Be sure to share them with us in the comments below!

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