If you’re feeling run down, an energy boost may bring back your natural spark.
If you’re feeling sapped of energy these days, you’re not alone. There are lots of unexpected things that can drain you, from the food you eat to the underlying stress you experience in the day.
“Fatigue is the number one health complaint in my practice, especially among women,” Dr. Holly Phillips, author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough, told People magazine. “Many of us have built full, busy, wonderful lives, but secretly feel the price we have to pay is being so exhausted that we can’t enjoy the lives we lead. It shouldn’t be that way!”
There are medical conditions that can cause fatigue, so a visit to your doctor should be your first step in your quest for more energy. But assuming your doctor says you’re healthy, see if some lifestyle changes can put some more pep in your step.
What’s sapping your energy (and what to do about it)
Some things that leave you feeling drained can boost your energy with a little tweaking. Let’s look at what can make you tired and how you can fix it.
Too much sleep
While proper sleep is crucial to maintain your health, oversleeping can be too much of a good thing. Scientists believe this is because your biological clock gets thrown off with excessive sleep and in turn can leave you feeling lethargic in the daytime.
What to do about it: Doctors recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep for older adults. Try to get up and go to bed around the same time each night. This helps your body get into a rhythm that will leave you energized in the morning and throughout the day.
Too much coffee
This is another one that might seem counterintuitive. While a cup or two of coffee is a great way to give yourself a little jolt, excessive amounts can leave you dehydrated and feeling fatigued.
What to do about it: Light to moderate coffee drinking, which doctors consider up to three 8-ounce cups of coffee per day, has lots of benefits. The caffeine can help you focus and feel energized, too. So drink up in moderation. And avoid coffee six hours before bedtime to ensure adequate sleep.
Sedentary people report far more tiredness than those who consistently work out.
What to do about it: Get moving! Working out does a body good for all sorts of reasons. A regular exercise regimen boosts oxygen circulation in the body, releases endorphins, and improves your cardiovascular system.
Eating an unhealthy diet
A daily diet filled with carbohydrates, refined sugars, and trans fats, like bread, pasta, cookies, and fried foods, will give you a boost of energy before crashing quickly. This will ultimately leave you feeling zonked.
What to do about it: Be sure you are eating meals filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Oatmeal, sesame seeds, lentils, bananas, and yogurt are known to be especially energizing.
Being even just a little bit dehydrated can leave people, especially women, with headaches, exhaustion, and more. That’s because dehydration causes decreased blood flow to organs throughout the body, especially the brain.
What to do about it: Be sure to get in the recommended amount of daily water intake — at least 6 to 8 glasses for adults. (Pro tip: Carry a water bottle with you so you can take sips throughout the day.)
Checking your phone at night
A quick check of your phone — whether it’s a text, a quick Facebook scroll, or a glance at the news — stimulates your brain. Plus, the blue light from your phone inhibits the release of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
What to do about it: It’s important to unplug, literally and figuratively, at least an hour before bed and through the night. If you feel a compulsion to reach for your phone when you wake up at night, keep the device in another room, or at least out of reach.
Stress quickly drains the body of energy, thanks to cortisol then rising and leaving our body in fight-or-flight mode. If you remain in this state for long periods of time, your body will be left feeling exhausted.
What to do about it: While we can’t control every stressful thing that comes our way, we can have tools in our arsenal to help us cope. Meditation, exercise, and having a community are excellent tools to use when life throws you lemons.
Staying inside all day
The body responds to the stimuli of light and darkness. Staying inside all day and avoiding daylight can mess with the body’s circadian rhythm.
What to do about it: Get outside. Fresh air does everybody some good. Sunlight also helps the body synthesize vitamin D, an important nutrient for bone health and mood regulation. Even if you’re not getting your heart rate up, being outside and in nature has been shown time and again to be energizing and reviving, so be sure to try to get outside every day.
There are lots of unexpected things that can zap your energy – and a lot of little things you can do to naturally get more. Talk to your doctor about any tiredness you’ve been feeling, along with ways to fix it.
- ClearMatch Medicare: Find a Medicare Plan
- People: How to Sleep Better
- University of Connecticut: Even Mild Dehydration Can Alter Mood
- Harvard: Blue Light Has a Dark Side
- University of Rochester: Spending Time in Nature Makes People Feel More Alive