Suffering from a mid-day slump is a common problem for many people. Some even have to cope with a foggy, tired feeling all day. Though fatigue affects a lot of people, it is often a fixable problem. Here are seven easy tips to help you get through the day with plenty of energy:
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
It might seem like obvious advice, but over 40 million Americans suffer from long term sleep problems, with another 20 million experiencing occasional loss of sleep. Try your best to be in bed early enough to get a full night’s rest, do not consume caffeine in the evening, and avoid using sleep-disrupting electronics right before bed. If you think you may have a sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment.
2. Get checked for underlying health problems.
Poor sleep can contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, inflammation, and other issues, but untreated illnesses (especially those that cause breathing problems or chronic pain) can cause poor sleep. Other problems, like hypothyroidism, diabetes, sleep apnea, or anemia, have fatigue as a symptom. If you are regularly tired all the time, get a physical to rule out any contributing factors.
3. Follow your rhythms.
Every person’s circadian rhythm is slightly different. Some people are at their most energetic early in the morning, while others hit their peak in the evening. It can be hard to schedule your working hours around your internal body clock, but being aware of your own natural rhythm can let you know when to perform tasks that take a lot out of you. Unfortunately, changing your body clock isn’t an option for most people — it is largely dictated by genetics and brain chemistry.
4. Eat foods higher in protein and fiber.
Eating protein is key when it comes to feeling satisfied with your meals and maintaining a weight loss effort. Protein helps build lean muscle mass and provides you with energy. Without enough fiber in your diet, you will experience dips in energy, difficulty losing weight, and also have a greater risk for heart disease. Reach for foods with lots of protein and fiber, like carrots, almonds, bell peppers, flax seed and hummus, to give you the energy boost you need without the unwanted calories and fat.
5. Get some exercise.
It may be the farthest thing from your mind when you are tired, but exercising has been proven to boost energy levels. Not feeling up for a jog? Jump up and down a few times. Not only will it help get your blood pumping, it can trigger the release of endorphins.
6. Drink a glass of water.
The importance of staving off dehydration cannot be overstated, but water can help in other ways, too. Running some cold water over your wrists or splashing it on your face is a mild stressor that often triggers the release of noradrenaline, an energy-boosting neurotransmitter that is part of the fight-or-flight response. In fact, cold water is so effective that a study found that exposing people to it helped them perform better on an alertness test.
7. Brush your teeth.
Believe it or not, the secret to feeling energized might be in your toothpaste. The smell of mint has been shown to increase alertness in research subjects, and the association between waking up and tooth brushing may help dispel sleepiness by tricking your mind into giving you some just-woke-up energy. It is good for your teeth, and may help get rid of afternoon tiredness. If you aren’t able to brush your teeth, try chewing some mint chewing gum instead.
Experiencing occasional sluggishness is normal — everyone has had a bad night’s sleep or two. Regular bouts of fatigue are not normal, and may indicate a potentially serious problem. By ruling out contributing health conditions, devoting a full night to sleep, following your body’s natural highs and lows, and using occasional tricks like cold water or mint chewing gum, you can help yourself feel at your most energetic and alert.