Waking up in the morning can be tough if you’re a distance learner. Between the projects, the papers, and the exams, you’ve got a lot of reasons why you may not be getting enough sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
If you’re not getting this amount consistently, it’s no wonder you’re waking up groggy.
You may have decided a long time ago that coffee was the answer. Maybe you’ve never reconsidered your choice.
But coffee (especially more than four cups of it) has its drawbacks.
For instance, coffee can make you jittery, promote insomnia, and increase your anxiety. It can also lead to addiction. Plus, if you go to a coffee shop every morning, the costs can quickly add up. And if you’re like most distance learners, you don’t have cash to burn.
There has to be another way you can become more alert so that you can focus on your classes.
With that in mind, here are a few alternatives to consider, using an acronym, NOTES.
Get it? Because distance learners take notes. Isn’t it clever? No? Oh well, let’s dive in!
1. Nuts (eat them)
Eating a handful of nuts can help you stay full throughout the day. Nuts contain the nutrients you need to stay alert. Walnuts and almonds in particular are loaded with Omega-3, which is good for your memory and your mood.
Having a few on-hand near your workstation can help you focus for those early morning classes.
2. Outdoors (spend time there)
It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do to wake you up. The light of the sun alone helps you be more alert after sleeping. So, take a stroll around the block, do a little gardening, or briefly visit a nearby park.
3. Tea (drink it)
Green tea, black tea, and yerba mate tea can each be a good coffee alternative. Yes, green tea has caffeine, but its energy source comes from the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid is good for your brain and helps you wake up.
If you prefer kicking off a hard day of classes with a tasty beverage, give tea a try. You may find it gives you a similar, but different, buzz than coffee.
4. Exercise (do it)
A few jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, or just running in place can all help you get going before an extensive day of classes.
Hint: Taking breaks to do brief, moderate exercise throughout your day can give you an excuse to step away from your schoolwork. And when you get back to work, your mind is likely to be clearer.
5. Songs (listen to upbeat music)
I’m not suggesting you blare your music first thing in the morning and wake up anyone around you. But listening to upbeat songs soon after waking up can help stimulate your brain. I recommend a bit of classic rock (like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor).
Plenty of folks like doing homework listening to these kinds of songs in the background (I knew a few in college). But if music is more of a distraction for you, try listening to it for a few minutes before you start your work.
Bonus: Splash water in your face
This worked for me in college. You’ll want to dry just enough so you’re not dripping. It can be refreshing as your damp face dries. The effect won’t last long, but it will give your brain a much-needed jolt.
Coffee has helped many-a-student face the rigors of academic discipline. Fortunately, it’s not the only option available in order to get a kick of energy before starting your classes. Just remember this acronym: NOTES, which stands for Nuts, Outside, Tea, Exercise, and Songs.