Feeling sluggish and tired during the day is unfortunately a reality for so many people all over the world. And it’s often a massive challenge to find the cause of it and then to fix it. Some of us simply try to put it out of our minds so we can just make it through the day and get what we need done, done. But ignoring it isn’t the answer. It only catches up to us later and will eventually stop us in our tracks.
One of the most common ways people fight fatigue is by drinking coffee or taking caffeine in another form. But caffeine can cause unpleasant side effects for many people like insomnia, elevated heart rate, ‘the jitters,’ anxiety, headache, difficulty focusing, among others. It’s not the ideal solution for everyone.
To help you get past fatigue and feel better equipped to function at your best, this article lists five of the best methods to help you stay awake and alert during the day that might work better for you than caffeine.
I deliberately used the word ‘move’ instead of exercise because more movement of any kind will have a positive effect on your energy. If you sit for much of the day, even getting up and stretching, or going up and down the stairs, or taking a short walk will help.
Of course, we also know moderate daily exercise does a body good in countless ways, including increasing your energy. Exercise is any type of deliberate attempt to move your body and raise your heart rate for at least 30 minutes. You can choose anything that you enjoy, like running, walking, biking, yoga, lifting weights, fitness classes, or something else.
The way it works is by delivering more blood and oxygen to your muscles (and your brain) and increasing their capacity to tackle the activities of the day. With a regular exercise routine, daily activities like climbing stairs or lifting things become much easier to handle and less likely to zap you of your energy.
Get Better Sleep
Getting enough zzz’s can be tricky for some. Did you know about one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep? So, if this is you, know that you’re not alone. But it is extremely important to address it.
What makes sleep tricky is that there are so many factors involved in getting the necessary 7+ hours each night. (I could write a very long post just on this topic alone.) Some of the major controllable factors are:
- Exercise (too much or not enough)
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Nighttime routine
Our bodies need enough sleep to be able to recover and repair itself. And deep sleep, or the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase, is when this happens. If you’re getting enough deep sleep, your body will be better able to make and use energy at the cellular level, and your muscles and tissues will be in top-top shape to move you through your day with ease.
Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, exercising a moderate amount, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and preparing for bed with a calming nighttime routine (think avoiding tv and computer screens and reading or meditating instead) can all help you snooze well.
Try a Caffeine-Free Natural Stimulant
While caffeine is the most common natural stimulant, it doesn’t always agree with everybody. For some, it just makes them jittery and anxious, and eventually causes them to feel even more tired after the buzz wears off. So, it’s good to know there are alternatives if you’re looking to leave fatigue behind you without resorting to caffeine.
Some options include:
- Maca root – while this root (which is actually a vegetable related to broccoli) has been mostly touted for its effects on libido and fertility, many believe it also improves energy and endurance.
- Ginseng – this herb root has some research to back it up that it can increase energy.
- B12 –this vitamin is well known to improve energy by converting what you eat into fuel for your cells.
- Cordyceps mushroom – numerous studies have shown evidence that this shroom could help deliver more oxygen to your cells.
- Moringa – this plant is a newer addition to the list of superfoods and is being called an energy booster, possibly due to high amounts of iron.
Most health food stores have these items and can help you find one to try. They don’t all work the same for everyone though, and it’s always good to consult your doctor before adding these to your diet.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
You’ve probably heard it a gazillion times in your life: drink more water. And it’s very good advice. Fatigue is easily caused by being even mildly dehydrated. So trying to avoid it is crucial.
How do you avoid it?
Drinking enough water every day is a must (try this calculator to find out how much). But there are other factors to consider. Another main concern is your electrolytes, which are sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphate. If one or more of your electrolytes are out of balance, you will become dehydrated.
Some ways you can become dehydrated include:
- Sweating - The more you sweat, the more you lose water and electrolytes.
- Vomiting or diarrhea - When you’re sick and losing bodily fluids more readily, you also lose electrolytes.
- Trouble sleeping – Not sleeping enough is associated with dehydration.
- Eating too much sodium – This can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
Keeping your electrolytes in balance is therefore super important. There are a variety of electrolyte drink products out there that can replenish them, but always read the label and watch out for added sugars and other unwanted ingredients. (Gatorade is out!)
We assume we must be breathing if we’re alive. But the truth is most of us are breathing on a shallow level for most of the day. This has become the norm because we’re either just busy doing life and aren’t paying attention to it, or stress has taken over.
A major factor in our energy levels is getting enough oxygen to the cells in our organs and everywhere else in our bodies to be able to function well. So, when oxygen gets low, we feel this as fatigue. Breathing deeply brings more oxygen to where it needs to be, so we can feel awake and alert.
Deep breathing will also help reduce tension in our upper bodies that can limit expansion of our lungs. Plus, it helps to relax us and reduce mental stress.
Practicing in-through-the-nose, out-through-the-mouth breathing exercises even a few times throughout the day will help you fight fatigue. Each breath should fill your lungs and belly with air, followed by exhaling slowly and with control.
Fatigue can really hold you back from enjoying life. This list gives you a few ways you can try to increase your energy levels so you can get the most out of you day. Some of them are quicker fixes, like taking herbs, but some of them might take longer to kick in, like exercising and sleeping better on a regular basis. Always check in with your doctor to get their advice on what might be best for you. But these five simple ideas might just give you the boost you’ve been looking for!