These days, many of us have simply accepted sleepiness as a normal state of life.
We struggle to roll out of bed, feel sluggish without our daily dose of coffee, and hit a wall by 2 p.m. — and then artificially attack it with sugar and caffeine.
But the problem is that we're actually living with deep fatigue. And that not only lowers everyday quality of life, it also harms long-term health.
The good news is that the best strategies for acquiring all-day energy don't require any artificial stimulants. Here are my favorite natural tips for feeling productive and energized all day long.
1) Set your alarm for the same time every day.
Yes, that includes weekends. While you should ideally make a habit of hitting the sack at the same time every night, of course you'll occasionally go to bed later, like on Saturday night.
But the secret to staying energized is to still wake up at the usual time the next day. That’s because waking up at the same time enables your circadian rhythms to stay in synch with the 24-hour day. If you're feeling sleepy, take a 10 to 30 minute power nap in the afternoon instead — it's better than sleeping in.
And be sure to optimize the wake-up process with bright light: Roll up the shades, fling open the curtains or switch on a lamp if it's still dark out. And whenever possible, enjoy your breakfast by a sunny window.
2) Jumpstart your morning with lemon water.
All the functions in your cells, including energy production, require water. But these days, most people are walking around chronically dehydrated.
Start the day off right by downing at least one quart of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice upon waking. This will help to alkalize your body, and also aid in digestion. Bonus: the drink will fill your body with vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps the detox process by neutralizing free radicals and boosting the immune system.
Then, continue to drink one or two more quarts of H2O throughout the day.
3) Cut out caffeine.
Sure, your usual breakfast of sugary coffee scores you immediate stimulation and energy — but it’s also a recipe for a big crash a few hours later.
What most people don't realize is that coffee doesn’t generate more energy. It only “borrows” energy from your body, and then you need to pay the price later, often with interest.
Since caffeine is a stimulant, it also reduces the quality of your sleep later on that night — only leading to more tiredness, less alertness and lost productivity the next morning.
Plus, one study found that coffee consumption significantly impairs acute blood glucose management and insulin sensitivity. And managing blood sugar levels is vital for your energy, not to mention your overall health.
So where should you snag your energy instead? That brings me to the next step.
4) Make a green smoothie for breakfast.
Green vegetables are high in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that are vital for energy production.
And while eating salad is great, you can only chew so many leafy greens. But there is an easier way to include more veggies in your diet: add them to juices and smoothies.
If you're juicing, juice only vegetables, since juicing fruit may lead to too much concentrated sugar, which raises your blood sugar levels. Make your morning drink with kale, celery, cucumber, cabbage, lime, ginger and small amounts of carrot or beetroot. You'll not only feel more energized, but also have clearer skin as a positive side effect!
If you’d prefer a smoothie, combine sweet fruit, like bananas and mangoes, with dark leafy greens like spinach, kale or chard. Smoothies are a great way to “hide” the bitter taste of greens, and consume more as a result. Start with a simple recipe of ripe bananas, spinach, some almond milk and water.
5) Soak in at least 10 minutes of sun.
Enjoying even just a little bit of sunshine every day will help to boost vitamin D levels and your energy. Plus, just as it does in the early morning, light later in the day can help wake you up and thwart that afternoon energy dip.
Aim to step outside of your office at least once during the afternoon. If weather and location permit, eat your lunch outside, preferably away from any noise: You’ll get fresh air, vitamin D and some much-needed relaxation for your body and mind.
If you can’t make it outside, at least try to spend time in a well-lit area, like next to a window.
6) Move your body every 30 minutes.
Staying put in a fixed position for more than 30 minutes can slow your metabolism, and studies have found that employees who do some form of physical activity every half hour at work enjoy increased concentration and engagement.
While it might take some practice to make this part of your daily routine, there’s an easy trick: set an alarm on your phone or computer for every half hour. Every time the alarm goes off, try a new physical activity, whether it's some light stretching, a walk around the office, rolling your shoulders back and forth, or simply standing up while talking on the phone.
Movement will also help to balance blood sugar levels, improve circulation and get your oxygen — and energy — flowing.
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