How to Improve Mental Alertness (Proven Methods)

Updated on March 9, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

We look at what mental alertness is and why it is so important for productivity levels. We also look at proven methods to improve mental alertness and keep your brain active.

Abstract representation of enhancing mental alertness through cognitive techniques.

Mental alertness is a state of high sensory awareness where we can focus and concentrate on a task at hand, as well as perceive and act fast in any situation. It relates to reasoning, capability, awareness, perception, and imagination, and therefore staying mentally alert is vital for productivity levels, especially in the workplace.

The proven methods in this article will help improve mental alertness and help you stay on top of your game throughout the day. They are simple enough to add to your routine and lifestyle changes such as these ensure your brain stays active and healthy enough to function properly.

What is Mental Alertness?

Mental alertness refers to the state of being mentally alert, whether than means an internal or external awareness, it means being aware of your surroundings and environment and it plays an important role in decision making and everyday activities.

Mental alertness is a state of high sensory awareness and the ability to quickly perceive a situation and act fast. The brain is one of the most important organs in the human body and the cognitive functions it provides, allow us to stay alert throughout the day to complete work tasks and stay on top of our game.

Mental alertness, therefore, enhances cognitive functions as we age and is the key to preventing mental fatigue. It relates to reasoning, capability, awareness, perception, and imagination and holds the ability to notice changes in the body’s system. By exercising your mind and keeping yourself mentally alert, you are able not only to focus and concentrate on hard tasks but also be watchful and promptly react to dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, mental fatigue is more common than we think and most people in their lifetime will experience it. This can affect mental alertness and usually takes a toll on work efforts and productivity levels. A Dutch study conducted in 2018 found that 16% of employees who were between the ages of 15-75 complained of mental fatigue.

To stay productive throughout the day and reach our goals whilst completing work-based tasks, it’s vital we know how to improve mental alertness and minimize the risk of mental fatigue.

Keeping our mind alert, can not only help productivity levels and concentration but can reduce stress levels, help us feel connected to the outside world and even promote better mental health. Let’s take a look at some proven methods of improving mental alertness so you can continue being the sharpest version of yourself.

How to Improve Mental Alertness (Proven Methods)

According to research, there are many factors that might affect mental alertness. These factors include general fatigue, age, body weakness, or other deficiencies.

These methods promise to boost mental alertness and help you feel rejuvenized and refreshed. They include:

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet and providing your brain with the right nutrients can be key to staying mentally alert. What you eat on a day-to-day basis can boost your mental well-being. Making sure you choose to eat foods rich in the vitamins, protein, healthy fats, and minerals you need to keep your body and mind in good condition is key to staying focused.

Fuelling your body with enough calories regulates mood and energy levels and can reinforce basic thinking skills.

Nuts are a great food source to add to your diet as they are common and can easily be found in food stores. These can range from walnuts to cashews and almonds and they are rich in protein and magnesium to help replenish the body and mind. Magnesium can also restore energy levels and healthy fats, fiber, and protein can balance out blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates boost energy levels in the form of glucose so don’t be afraid to stock up on whole grains and potatoes. Eggs can also be a great addition to your diet as they are known as ‘super brain foods’ as a source of protein, rich in amino acids. Eggs contain vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B12, and B6.

If you struggle to include enough vitamin-rich foods in your diet, you can always try supplementing these vitamins. Vitamin supplementation of Vitamin B12 can increase concentration levels and Vitamin D3 can reduce mental stress whilst also improving productivity levels.

Omega-3 Fatty acids are also great for improving brain health. Although you are able to find these in foods you probably already consume each day such as walnuts, spinach, and fish, you can also supplement it to give yourself an extra boost.

Adding coffee to your diet is also a good way of improving mental alertness as it is known as the substance with the most antioxidants in it. It’s easy to fit into your routine and can give your brain that energy boost it needs.

If you’re adding coffee to your routine, however, it’s vital to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water throughout the day can improve brain function and increase energy levels. Dehydration can lead to mental fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog, and therefore ensuring you drink enough can help you improve mental alertness.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough rest when your body needs it and making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night is key to improving mental alertness and cognitive abilities. Without enough sleep, brain fog can occur and you may struggle with headaches or fatigue throughout the day, which can ultimately lead to low productivity levels and an increase in stress levels.

Adults should try to go the sleep and wake up at the same time each day to improve mental alertness and maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Enough sleep means your memory becomes sharper, your mind becomes clearer, and your decisions become smarter. You’ll feel rejuvenated and relaxed in the morning and this can motivate you to stay productive throughout the day.

3. Take a Break

This is particularly important if you find your mental alertness decreasing in the middle of the working day. If you are working on a heavy project at work that requires a lot of time and concentration, you may find yourself feeling drained and this can impact mental alertness for the rest of the day.

To stop this, take a moment away from your desk, for around 10-20 minutes to step outside, walk around the block, stretch or even meditate to help clear your mind and feel ready to return to that important task feeling much more alert.

During this break, having a snack is also recommended to give your brain an extra boost of energy. Try to eat something with protein and vitamins to help give your brain some nutrients.

4. Practice Yoga and Meditation

Yoga releases endorphins which can increase blood flow to the brain and help create a happy and positive feeling. This can reduce stress levels and help us feel mentally alert again.

Similarly, meditation and calm breathing activities impact the nerves that are tied to arousal centers in the brain. This helps relax the mind and provides you with a sharp focus to boost mental alertness and help with mental clarity. It can also increase attention span and prevent age-related mental decline.

5. Challenge Your Brain

Challenging your brain helps prevent cognitive decline and keeps you mentally alert. This does not have to be complicated challenges and can be something as simple as trying out a new crossword puzzle or another strategy game like Sudoku. This helps keep the mind sharp and focused.

These challenging games have also been linked to lowering the risk of developing dementia later in your life. Frequent mental stimulation gives your brain a workout to help it stay active for as long as possible.

You can also attempt to learn a new instrument. Being able to read music can exercise the brain and to be able to bang on a drum kit can release frustration associated with high-stress levels.

6. Listen to Music

Listening to music can stimulate memories and increase your ability to focus for long periods. According to John Hopkins Medicine, music can enhance memory and engage your brain. This means when you feel like mental alertness is falling and you’re drained because of it, listening to some music can help wake your mind up.

7. Exercise and Move Your Body

Adding exercise into your routine can open up a whole range of health benefits. It can not only keep your body in shape but also fight sickness, help with mental health and exercise your mind to enhance cognitive functions whilst improving mental alertness.

Consistent exercise increases blood flow to the brain and this provides the brain with more energy and oxygen to increase productivity levels throughout the day. It can enhance memory, improve concentration and reduce the production of stress hormones.

Exercise also increases the production of chemicals in the brain that facilitates the growth of new neural connections, whilst also increasing the blood flow to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the section of your brain that deals with memory and can be beneficial to retaining new information and staying mentally alert.

Furthermore, regular exercise can be as important as simply getting up to move around whilst sitting at your desk. Sitting for long periods zaps energy and decreases blood flow, therefore every thirty minutes, it is recommended you get up and walk around the room. You can now even buy standing desks.

8. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can affect sleep and this will disrupt concentration levels and decrease overall mental alertness in the long run. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and with continuous use, studies show it can increase tiredness. It is recommended to only stick to 1-2 drinks daily.

9. Eliminate Distractions

Multiple distractions throughout your working day can disrupt focus and concentration. They can impact productivity and by minimizing these distractions, you could cause a positive influx on your brain. This can stimulate brain cells and improve mental alertness.

Distractions range from loud music to TV playing in the background to talking colleagues. Internal distractions like anxiety are harder to tackle but when you find ways of coping with them, you might be able to regain mental clarity.

10. Seek Medical Help

In most cases, a person’s mental alertness can improve significantly when they receive proper treatment for the thing that is causing them stress and the stressor is closely monitored. If you have tried the above methods and see no improvement, it’s important to talk to your doctor and seek medical help.

Supplements for Increasing Mental Alertness

To improve mental alertness, it’s very common for people to turn to nootropics and other supplements.

Mind Lab Pro® Universal Nootropic™

The supplement we recommend is Mind Lab Pro which has been voted the world’s best nootropic. It can improve focus, clarity, mood, and memory and most of all, improve mental alertness.

It promotes long-range brain health and is scientifically proven to bring you back to your most alert, sharp, and focused self. Over time, it can increase your mental agility and help you to concentrate over longer periods of time. It can also increase the speed of thought when you don’t feel on top of your game and can enhance overall mental clarity.

With only 2-4 capsules per day, you can feel the effects in just 30 minutes. Users have reviewed it as one of the best nootropics on the market and it has helped them clear brain fog and increase mental alertness to last them through the day.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Your questions answered.

What Vitamins and Minerals are for Mental Alertness?

Folic acid or folate is an important B vitamin for the brain. Getting adequate folate can improve mental alertness, as well as improve memory and focus. It helps lower blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. This amino acid is known to damage brain cells.

Does Exercise Increase Mental Alertness?

Incorporating regular exercise into your everyday routine can be one of the best ways to improve mental alertness and prevent other diseases from developing in the body.

The health benefits are endless and it can not only help you feel more alert but also benefit mental health. Simple exercises include going for a walk or jog, cycling, swimming, stretching, playing tennis, strength training, and yoga.

What Supplements Improve Focus?

Creatine, choline, and piracetam are most commonly used as normal memory promoters and to improve how alert we feel. A lot of people, especially in the workplace, turn to caffeine, which is a popular nootropic to enhance focus and attention, so adding the class of supplements above can be used to improve alertness further and stimulate other senses.


Mental alertness is how we stay mentally alert throughout the day and helps exercise cognitive functions as we age. It relates to reasoning, capability, awareness, perception, and imagination and holds the ability to notice changes in the body’s system.

Staying mentally alert is the key to preventing mental fatigue and keeping productivity levels up. This is why it is important to maintain mental alertness levels through the proven methods listed above and to keep that brain happy and healthy so you remain at your sharpest and most focused self.