Do you wake up tired or have trouble overcoming afternoon fatigue? These can all be signs that your lifestyle is taking its toll. What to change so you don’t have to deal with brain fog and exhaustion?
1. Identify healthy ways to cope with stress
“Stress has a huge impact on your physical well-being. If you experience increased levels of stress, it can trigger lower energy levels,” says doctor Nina Vasanová to the Huffington Post.
How can you combat uncontrollable stress to increase your energy levels? Vasanová explains that it is crucial to find ways to incorporate meditation or mindfulness into your daily life, even for just five minutes each day.
Experts also say that identifying coping skills that work for you—like journaling or reading something that brings you joy—can help you beat the blues and feel a surge of energy.
2. Limit your caffeine intake
When you’re feeling tired, it may sound tempting to brew a third or fourth cup of coffee to wake you up. But the truth is that drinking too much caffeine can paradoxically have the opposite effect.
“If you consume a lot of caffeinated beverages during the day, it’s likely to affect your sleep patterns. This can then affect your energy level,” says Professor Alfred Tallia.
It’s important to note that suddenly cutting back on caffeinated beverages can also make you feel tired at first. As Tallia explains, “the body gets used to caffeine as a stimulant, and when it’s not there, you can experience a drop in energy.”
Most experts recommend cutting back on caffeine gradually until you find what works best for you—and not reaching for an extra cup, even if you have the urge.
3. Observe proper sleep hygiene
It stands to reason that sleep has a huge impact on how we feel. However, your energy level is not only affected by the amount of sleep you get each night, but also by its quality.
It is therefore important to observe proper sleep hygiene. Avoid the glare from screens at least an hour before you go to bed, don’t overeat, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Absolute darkness, a cooler environment and fresh air can help with sleep itself.
If you suffer from sleep deprivation despite following these guidelines, consult your doctor.
Try to incorporate exercise into your day – even if it’s just a small amount. Research has shown that daily exercise and movement are essential for increasing energy levels. You don’t have to lift weights or run three miles a day to feel energized.
“Even low-intensity exercise increases oxygen flow and raises hormone levels, which in turn gives you energy. It’s the number one tip I recommend to anyone who feels tired,” advises Vasanová.
5. Drink more water
Dehydration is a common cause of lack of energy. “Our red blood cells carry oxygen. Ideally, plump and round red blood cells allow full oxygen carrying capacity. But when we are dehydrated, the blood shrinks, reducing the cell’s capacity to carry a full load of oxygen. Low oxygen levels then manifest as fatigue, irritability, and restlessness,” explains Raelene Brooks, dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Phoenix.
6. Watch your screen time
It almost goes without saying that excessive screen time in the evenings can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and energy the following day. As Vasanová explained, “spending too much time on the phone, computer or watching TV can cause fatigue by disrupting neurotransmitters that are essential for good sleep and regeneration.”
It’s clear that we live in a digital world, so spending long periods of time staring at a screen is unavoidable for most people. So at least try the “20-20-20” rule. According to the Harvard Business Review, “the solution is to take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to focus your gaze on an object 20 feet (about 6 meters) away.”
7. Avoid skipping meals
If you’ve ever skipped breakfast or worked through your lunch break, you’ve probably felt more groggy than usual during the day. While it’s perfectly normal to skip meals occasionally, making it a goal to regularly eat nutrient-dense meals and snacks throughout the day can boost your energy levels.
“Your brain needs nourishment to actually function properly,” Tallia said. “A lot of people skip meals and their blood sugar goes up and down throughout the day,” she adds.