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Feel more alert

New study uncovers 3-part brain 'secret' that can help you play better golf

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Most golfers love a nice, early morning round. Fresh dew on the course, and not another golfer in sight. The only problem with waking up early to play golf is, well, the waking up part.

It's hard for most golfers not to feel groggy, especially during those early morning rounds. And as we all know, a golfer feeling groggy isn't one about to play their best golf. You need to focus. And to do that, you need to be alert.

It wasn't golf that prompted scientists from the University of California-Berkeley to study the cause of early morning grogginess, but there are certainly applications for golfers, both on and off the golf course.

In the study, which was published last month in the journal Nature Communication, researchers monitored 833 people's diets over the course of two weeks and tracked key health metrics via a wristwatch.

By the end of the study, researchers had arrived at a clearer understanding of what caused people to feel groggy, and concluded that "the secret to alertness is a three-part prescription."

Here's what they are

1. Exercising the previous day

The first prescription to feeling more alert tomorrow, researchers found, is to do more exercise today. Researchers found that "substantial exercise the previous day" helped improved participants' mood overall and general alertness, in part because they got a better night's sleep the night before.

"It may be that exercise-induced better sleep is part of the reason exercise the day before, by helping sleep that night, leads to superior alertness throughout the next day," Raphael Vallat, the studies author, said.

Editor's Note: If you're looking for a golf-specific fitness program to commit to, we've got a ton of them you can check out on Golf Digest Schools right here.

2. Sleeping in a little later

Yes, we know this is the most obvious one, and if you've got an early tee time, not one you can do much about. But it's undeniable that sleeping in a little longer will help you feel more alert throughout the day.

"When you wake up later, you are rising at a higher point on the upswing of your 24-hour circadian rhythm, which ramps up throughout the morning and boosts alertness," Vallat says.

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So, if you're trying to play your best, maybe opt for that late-morning tee time.

3. High carb, modest protein, no sugar breakfast

Finally, and most importantly, the key to feeling alert throughout the day starts with breakfast. The study found that only a "modest amount of protein" was ideal, and the less sugar the better. Instead, it was eating more carbs in the morning that was linked to "individuals revving up their alertness quickly in the morning and sustaining that alert state."

"A breakfast rich in carbohydrates can increase alertness, so long as your body is healthy and capable of efficiently disposing of the glucose from that meal, preventing a sustained spike in blood sugar that otherwise blunts your brain's alertness," Vallat said.

Three more articles to check out...