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Better than coffee: 11 ways to cheer up on science

FOR MANY OF US, A CUP OF STRONG COFFEE is the only way to make your morning more pleasant and help you wake up. Coffee is generally a good thing: there is evidence that it can reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular and oncological diseases, protect against type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression . Of course, if you drink it in reasonable quantities – we talked about them in one of the materials .            

Coffee is also worth taking note of for those who are not averse to skipping a couple of cocktails on Fridays: back in 2009, in experiments on mice , coffee was found to help relieve alcohol-induced fatigue and neutralize its relaxing effect when necessary. In general, there are no reasons to give up coffee if you love it – only it invigorates not everyone. Here are some other effective and safe ways to come to your senses. 

Take your eyes off the screen 

Fortunately, the scientific community does not yet have conclusive evidence that the “blue” or “blue” light of smartphones, tablets and laptops affects the skin like UV radiation, increasing the risk of melanoma or photoaging. However, researchers have little doubt that such light negatively affects our well-being. It is primarily about sensations of loss of focus, dryness and burning sensation in the eyes – symptoms that undermine productivity and often provoke headaches. This can happen after two or three hours of continuous work at the computer, not to mention a whole working day.      

When you feel that everything is floating in front of your eyes, and they themselves are closing, although you have slept, try to distract from the screen and look out the window. Better yet, do eye exercises “like in school”, alternately looking in different directions. 

Eat something savory

Often, lethargy and the urge to lie down in the middle of the day are not due to natural laziness, but to low blood sugar. Moreover, this state can occur not only in a state of hunger, but also after a heavy meal with a large amount of carbohydrates: the release of insulin rapidly reduces their level in the blood, while simultaneously promoting the “sleepy” effects of other substances, tryptophan and serotonin. While the quickest way to raise your blood sugar is to eat something sweet, the energy boost after the candy doesn’t last long, followed by destructive fatigue.  

Studies show that the body responds best to fiber and healthy fats, so a homemade avocado sandwich will come in handy. Do not forget about foods high in iron (white beans, lentils, spinach, dark chocolate), a deficiency of which can cause a breakdown. Vitamin C helps the body to assimilate iron – there is a lot of it in bell peppers, cauliflower and citrus fruits.   

Drink some water

And once again about the eternal: if you are hungry, irritated or tired – drink a glass of water. As you know, thirst is often disguised as hunger, and a glass of cool water copes with stress just as well as valerian. It is important that when there is a lack of fluid, the body begins to lack energy – perhaps the very one that is needed to complete a project, write a text, make a presentation of a product, or wake up properly.      

The official recommendations indicate the volume not of water, but of liquid in general – this is 3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters for women. The liquid can come with food and various drinks, but still, so as not to imperceptibly go overboard with sugar or calories, it makes sense to drink a glass of clean water from time to time.    

Take a walk

Perhaps, if the daylight hours were longer, we would not have such a need for coffee and other energy drinks. In any case, research data indicate that daylight is one of the factors that allows you to remain optimistic and cheerful throughout the day. There is interesting data that the blue light emitted by the screens of gadgets can also invigorate, but there are still few such experiments, and the doses of blue light in them were much higher than those that we get when working at a computer.   

In the conditions of the harsh Russian winter and no less harsh autumn and spring, we spend most of the year among shades of gray, which cannot but affect the general state of the body. Lack of sun exposure leads to a lack of vitamin D, which reduces the risk of depression and improves mood in the short term. This vitamin as a food supplement has been shown to many people. In the summer, its production is also difficult, because we protect the skin from the sun’s rays – but now, while the sun is not too aggressive, a walk during the day will help to cheer up.    

Dance like no one sees

Dance, jump, spin and just move to instantly cheer up. Experts constantly say that even a small daily activity can improve health indicators and help the functioning of all body systems – including improving concentration and attention. And this works not only in the case of systematic exercise – so you don’t have to plan anything in advance. For example, one study found that sleepiness simply disappears when you start moving.   

So start falling asleep at your desk – turn on your favorite dance video, stand up and repeat the movements; it will help you distract yourself and reset your head to start working with renewed vigor. We like the “ I told you so ” style from the “Clinic” TV series.

Take a deep breath

Scientists have proven that deep, measured breathing is one of the best ways to deal with stress overload. This is very convenient if you need to calm down here and now, and not at home, where you can take a hot bath , having achieved the same effect. Deep breathing can not only calm, but also tune in to a wave of cheerfulness and vitality.    

It’s very simple: the more air you breathe in, the more oxygen enters your bloodstream – and the more energy your cells have. A small life hack: breathing “from the stomach”, which is practiced in yoga, will allow you to draw more air into your lungs and, accordingly, get more bonuses.  

Listen to music

Judging by the number of experiments aimed at studying the effect of music on the body and its connection with human characteristics, scientists are mostly desperate music lovers. For example, they recently found out that “musical creeps” indicate a special structure of the brain, and men who prefer rock music have higher testosterone levels. But in this case, we are interested in something else: music helps to concentrate – although those who are always disturbed by it do not believe in this.    

In fact, music as a background for work is not suitable for everyone – and it is ideal for monotonous actions that require constant repetition. And one more scientific observation regarding music: in a 2011 study , it was found that favorite tracks, if a person listens to them for fifteen minutes or longer, contribute to the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects the processes of motivation and learning. Rammstein, Rihanna or “Molly”? Anything, as long as you really like it.       

Chew gum 

Probably, everyone has heard at least once that the chewing reflex helps to memorize information. There is a rational kernel in this statement , but it is wrong to talk about memorization alone. There is evidence that chewing movements can help focus, especially when it comes to an urgent and important task. You can experiment with chewing apple slices or nuts – but regular sugar-free gum is also a great option.  

Scientists have found that chewing gum can be an effective way to combat daytime sleepiness by speeding up blood circulation and activating certain areas of the brain. Another study found that chewing gum effectively relieves anxiety about the task at hand and – watch out! – improves understanding of the information just received.   

Watch videos
with animals

Can’t tear yourself away from the adorable mini-pig Aggie account , have breakfast and dinner with Rylai the fox and spend half your lunch break updating Animals Videos ? Welcome to the club of the people who do the right thing: Research shows that watching videos like these not only boosts your mood, but also boosts your brain activity. A typical example: in a 2015 study of 7,000 people, respondents said that videos with kittens increase their energy and help them cope with the negative environment around them.       

Despite the fact that these assessments are subjective, scientists believe that there is an effect: if not the videos themselves , then self-persuasion works. On the other hand, if you recall the scientific claims that viewing pictures of puppies by newlyweds increases their chances of happiness in marriage, the conclusion about the effectiveness of videos with animals seems quite normal. 

Have sex

In addition to many other health benefits, regular sex, according to Italian scientists, can increase “brain power”, while reducing stress levels. This is also evidenced by an American study , during which it was found that quality sex stimulates the growth of cells in the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. As shown by MRI, during orgasm, the neurons in the brain are more active and use more oxygen, which in turn provides the brain with more nutrients.   

For the sake of fairness, we note that physical exercises have a similar effect on the hippocampus – but nothing interferes with actively moving and having sex. Perhaps this will allow for a double effect.   


If none of the above helps, take a nap. According to scientists, a nap (5 to 25 minutes) about 6-7 hours before you go to bed to spend the night there is a great way to cope with sleepiness and lack of motivation. Interestingly, the authors of the study, conducted in 2008, was named a short afternoon nap more effective investment in health than dosypanie on weekends or use of caffeine during the day.    

Other studies agree with the finding, showing that sleeping in the middle of the day improves learning ability, positively affects memory, and enhances creative thinking. Nowadays there is a lot of talk about polyphasic sleep, the “invention” of which is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci – however, this biohacker method still has more opponents than supporters.

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