6 Ways to Naturally Boost Energy
Sleep deprivation is common in our culture. We pack our schedules with too much to do, and when push comes to shove, a good night’s sleep gets thrown out the window in favor of finishing off that to-do list or getting caught up on our favorite TV shows. With so much going on, most of don’t pay adequate attention to exercise, proper nutrition or maintaining good mental and emotional health—all of which can leave us feeling lethargic and rundown. When our physical state of being lags behind our busy lives, we tend to reach for a cup of coffee or a can of soda. While caffeine does provide a temporary boost of energy, it’s not enough to sustain us for the day—and it doesn’t address the underlying problems behind our lack of energy.
If you’re feeling fatigued, put down that caffeine and try these six steps to boost your energy naturally.
1. Hit the Hay
Getting a full night’s sleep is the first key to feeling fully energized. Shorting yourself on sleep does more than make you feel tired the next day. Sleep deprivation impairs judgment, reaction time and mental functions. Sleep deprivation has also been tied to depression and weight gain. Although the “perfect” amount of sleep varies from person to person (for some it’s five hours, for others 10), most adults require between seven and eight hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, your bedroom could be the culprit. Check these bedroom trouble spots to get a better night’s sleep.
2. Work Out
Exercise gets the blood flowing, which helps us to feel more awake. Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis reduces general fatigue in nearly every group, from healthy adults to the chronically ill, and that exercise has a stronger effect on sleepiness than even the narcolepsy drug modafinil.
3. See the Light
Light plays a critical role in our feelings of sleepiness, wakefulness, mood and energy levels. Our bodies are regulated by a “master clock” known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which controls our 24-hour circadian rhythm. When light hits our eyes, the SCN releases the hormone cortisol, suppresses the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and triggers our bodies to shake off sleep. To help your body wake up naturally in the morning, take a 10- to 15-minute walk, or situate yourself someplace where you’ll be exposed to bright sunlight. (If you live in a particularly cloudy or rainy region, try a sunrise alarm clock or full-spectrum light boxes.) Learn more about how light and dark influence our health.
4. Eat Right
What we eat has a huge influence on how we feel. Complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats and nonstarchy vegetables provide fuel that our bodies will burn slowly throughout the day—preventing that post-lunch food “coma” or that or feeling of low energy that can happen mid-morning or -afternoon. Never skip meals, and avoid foods that contain simple carbohydrates or sugars, which provide a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.
5. Take Supplements
Our cells naturally produce coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to help convert food into energy, but as we age, our bodies produce less of it. If you’re feeling fatigued, try taking a 100 milligram CoQ10 supplement two or three times daily. Keep in mind that it may take up to two months to take effect. B vitamins are also important for helping our bodies convert food into energy, but because they’re water-soluble, we flush them out of our systems on a regular basis. Try taking a 50 milligram B vitamin supplement twice daily.
Herbal supplements can also provide an extra burst of energy. For exhaustion, try 300 to 500 milligrams daily of the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha, or 500 milligrams two or three times daily of astragalus. Licorice and ginseng can both stimulate and provide energy; try 100 milligrams daily of ginseng, or 1 to 2 grams three times daily of licorice root.
6. Stimulate with Scents
For a quick pick-me-up, turn to aromatherapy. Citrus scents can increase feelings of awakeness, and peppermint can stimulate the mind.