Ever wake up in the morning and feel as though you could do with a few more hours in bed? That tiredness is not easy to shift or handle, especially if you have a busy day ahead. Energy plays a key role in our day to day to activities. Cups of coffee may help get you started for the day but how many cups will you need throughout the day to keep your energy up?
At any given time, 1 in every 5 people feel unusually tired and 1 in 10 have prolonged fatigue .
What causes us to have low energy?
Low energy or fatigue can be caused by a number of different factors. It seems that nowadays however the main three culprits are poor diet, stress and lack of sleep. A list from the Royal College of Psychiatrists have put together a list of some other areas that could be causing your low energy levels so you can start to look and make changes where necessary .
- Being overweight – your body has to work harder just to do everyday things.
- Being underweight – your muscles aren’t strong enough to do everyday things.
- Doing too little and getting unfit.
- Doing too much and tiring yourself out. If you carry on doing things, whether physical or mental, even when you feel tired, you may find it harder to recover, and get even more tired.
- Any illness can make you tired.
- Medications and supplements
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding.
- Worry or stress, especially if you can’t see a way out of your problems.
- Depression tends to make you feel tired all the time.
- Everyday difficulties – events, families, financial etc.
- Emotional shock such as bad news, bereavement or the break up of a relationship.
- Expecting too much of yourself – you find yourself repeatedly failing, feeling frustrated and tired.
- Sleep habits – you don’t have a routine, sleep too much or do too much then rest too much.
Why do we get a lull in the afternoon?
You will be pleased to know that this is actually a natural body response and it’s not necessarily because of your big lunch. However this can be exasperated if you have a poor diet and don’t do regular exercise. Our circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock) naturally dips between the hours of 1pm and 4pm. It’s not clear why, but new research has stated that as this is a natural response then maybe we should be treating our days and nights in 90 min cycles to keep in our natural body rhythm . Working in 90 min cycles and taking breaks and then sleeping in 90 min cycles so we do not wake in the middle of our sleep cycle thus causing sluggishness. For more information on this have a read of a book by Nick Littlehales – Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, the Power of Naps… and the New Plan to Recharge Your Body and Mind.
Here’s the part you have all been waiting for, the 8 steps you can take that can improve your energy levels without the need for caffeine:
Down a Pint
No, not a pint of beer! Try Water. Did you know that one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired or exhausted? This could be a reason why your energy levels are lacking and you feel exhausted. Because our bodies are made up of mostly water, even small dips in water levels are enough to affect your metabolism.
Stay hydrated by making sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine suggests about 9 cups of water a day for women and 13 cups for men. However a more accurate amount is take your body weight and divide it in half, then drink that many ounces per day, plus more if you workout, are really active, are pregnant, nursing, or are fighting an illness or disease.
Tired from a tough morning workout? The fact is that incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine will actually boost energy levels. Also, try to get outside more often, studies suggest that the very presence of nature helps to ward off feelings of exhaustion and that 90% of people report increased energy when placed in outdoor activities. Why not go for a walk outside when you hit that afternoon lull .
Jump up and down
Star jumps, burpees or just some jumps. Do at least 10 and then tell me you don’t feel more alert after getting your heart rate up and blood pumping. This will not only get you through that afternoon lull but it will make you happy and it might even make you and your colleagues laugh by getting them involved as well. Don’t know it until you try it.
I was bought aromatherapy oils for my birthday and I love them. Not only are they natural but there are so many varieties that all help with different ailments. When it comes to boosting energy levels and mental alertness, my top three favourites are peppermint, orange and lemon. Either tab some on your wrists and behind your ears to smell throughout the day (replacement for perfume), or if you need a quick alertness boost inhale straight from the bottle.
Any sort of citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and lemons contain high levels of vitamin C. This can be beneficial to the body’s energy levels. I just chose grapefruit as I found it to be the best for me. Vitamin C can help the body produce amino acids, which, in turn, produce chemicals that can regulate the body’s energy. Don’t go for the vitamin C dissolvable tablets, these are high in artificial sugar and will cause a sugar drop for you. Stick with o’naturel.
If you are not get a good quality amount of sleep every night then those nights you don’t will build up sleep debt, or sleep deficit, thus making you low in energy and more fatigued.
The National Sleep Foundation state that naps, especially around the 12-3pm afternoon lull period can help improve alertness, and they won’t take up too much of your time either as only short 20min sessions are best. Napping shouldn’t be longer than 30mins at a time otherwise you can go the other way and feel more tired and sluggish. I appreciate most of you will be at work however what about sleeping in your car, in a park if its warm or under your desk (I am sure your boss won’t mind) .
I hate being cold but it does have some benefits. I do it sometimes if I have a deadline to meet and I am feeling the lull of energy take over me. I take off a layer of clothing, open a window for some fresh air and suck it up. Feeling cold can boost your metabolism and increase the oxygen flow around the body and ultimately to the brain to keep you full of focus and energy. If you want to improve your circulation over time and get a great energy burst first thing in the morning, try alternating between the hot and cold shower dials. It works; trust me but its whether you can face a freezing cold shower upon waking up? Let me know how you get on with that one.
No, I don’t mean fruit smoothies that you buy in the supermarkets, as these are full of sugar and will cause a drop in your energy after the initial boost. Try drinking fresh vegetable juice whether bought or even better juice it yourself at home if you have a juicer, as you know what’s in it then. Losing the fibre during juicing makes the veggies easy to absorb and digest thus reaping the nutritional benefits without the added effort. You’ll notice an increase in energy levels that will last. Try adding lemon, ginger, kale, cucumber and spinach in a juicer with a small apple for taste. Tasty!
There you have it, some alternatives to the traditional caffeine go to for energy boosts. I have tried and do all of the above and yes I also have coffee and green tea because well, I am human and I love the taste. I would love to hear how you get on with some of the steps above, especially the cold shower one.
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