As women, we have a tendency to view the active, energetic, bubbly woman who wakes up happy, zips through her work day with ease and smiles about the prospects of making dinner and helping her kids with their homework as "abnormal."
"Something's wrong with that woman," we think to ourselves. Secretly, we wish for that zest for life- for that bit of pep to propel us through the day. The truth is, feeling sluggish and fatigued is actually less "normal" than feeling active and vigorous. The inability to wake up in the morning, the desire to curl up and sleep all afternoon, and then the battle with insomnia at bedtime is not the way we're supposed to be. Thankfully, there are ways to become the energetic woman we long to become. Looking for lasting energy? Follow these four tips to feel amazing all day.
Find Lasting Energy through Exercise: It's the middle of the afternoon, and you feel like hibernating until spring. Instead of dozing at your desk, try taking a walk instead. Though expending energy to get energy seems counteractive, it works. A study performed by researchers from the University of Georgia showed that people who regularly complain of tiredness can increase their energy levels by 20% and reduce their fatigue by 65% simply by engaging in regular, low intensity exercise. Researcher Tim Puetz said, "Exercise traditionally has been associated with physical health, but we are quickly learning that exercise has a more holistic effect on the human body and includes effects on psychological health. What this means is that in every workout a single step is not just a step closer to a healthier body, but also to a healthier mind."
Not only does exercise give you more energy, but it strengthens bones, reduces risk of cancer, strengthens your heart, reduces risk of diabetes, and makes you smarter. Heavy exercise should be done 5-6 hours before bedtime to insure adequate rest.
Eat Right to Beat Fatigue: Opt for foods high in protein and low in concentrated carbohydrates, namely sugar. While sugary foods may give you an instant rush of energy, when your blood sugar plunges a little while later, you will feel worse than before. Keep blood sugar levels even by consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat cheese or peanut butter, eggs, Greek yogurt, and almonds.
And don't forget to keep hydrated! A lot of people who feel hungry and tired don't realize that their body is desperately thirsting for water. Aim for 74 oz of water a day. Avoid drinks that dehydrate: caffeinated sodas and teas and caffeinated coffees act as diuretics and deplete your body of fluids.
Take Your Vitamins: Constant fatigue can be a sign of vitamin deficiency. Have your doctor check your iron, vitamin B, and vitamin D levels. Anemia and vitamin-D deficiency have been strongly linked to low energy. In fact, vitamin-D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome of fibromyalgia. Vitamin-D deficiency is a global epidemic, and especially affects those who live in regions where sunlight is scarce. Studies have shown that those who take vitamin D supplements increase boost their energy and decrease muscle pain and weakness. Your doctor can suggest a supplement that will help restore vitamin D levels in your body.
The #1 Way to Feel Amazing All Day: Sleep! Never, ever underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Adults need at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. According to the National Institute of Health, if you feel drowsy at all during the day, that's a surefire indicator that you're not getting enough sleep. Although people who get little sleep may claim to feel well rested, studies indicate that they do not perform mental tasks as well as those who get ample sleep at night.
All sleep is not created equal. Breaking sleep into chunks throughout the day disrupts your body's circadian rhythms, which can in turn increase the risk of heart, digestive, and mental and emotional problems. Long stretches of sleep give your brain a chance to go through all stages of sleep, including deep sleep and REM. Waking up during the REM cycle of sleep disrupts your next sleep cycle and can cause a "sleep debt" which leads to drowsiness and sluggishness during waking hours.
The best way to guarantee a solid, restful night's sleep? Aim to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every night and day. Yes, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Here are some tips for making that happen:
- Avoid caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening.
- Do something relaxing before you go to bed: take a warm bath, sip soothing chamonile tea, have your partner give you a relaxing massage, or read a good book under the covers.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
- Sleep in total darkness. Lack of light increases melatonin, which is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. (Ask your doctor about taking melatonin as a vitamin supplement before bedtime.)
- Expose yourself to bright lights in the morning. This will help set your body's natural biological clock.
If fatigue persists, consult your doctor. You may be suffering from a sleep disorder or other medical condition that can be helped given the proper attention.