Avoid These Energy Zappers To Get Back Energy Naturally

February 06, 2020

If you’re feeling more tired more regularly than ever before, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, this increase in fatigue is one of the most common shared experiences today.

Let’s look at what the experts call the “top energy zappers” and what we can do to reverse their effects. 

Lack of Sleep

The first place you should look if you feel constantly tired is your sleep. Most of us live busy lives that seem to pull us in many directions. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have additional domestic and workplace help, most people report that they work longer and longer hours today, have to manage after school activities for their children or grandchildren, organize or attend social and work events, have looming bills to pay, meals to cook, and just when there is a free moment to sit down, all the other items on the to-do list come to mind. 

It's no wonder that when it's actually time for bed, we are exhausted, stressed, and worried. So much so that we often can’t fall  asleep or stay asleep. We lay in bed mentally rehearsing tasks that we still need to complete, or things we failed to finish. 

If you find this happens to you frequently, getting up for a while may actually help. According to Medical News Today, sleep experts say you should not just lay there without sleeping for hours: “If you find that you are lying awake in bed worrying or with your mind racing, get out of bed and sit in the dark until you are feeling sleepy, then go back to bed.” (Nichols, 2018)

Screentime

Sometimes our habits can turn out to be our own worst enemy. We finally get the kids in bed, square away all our items for the following day, and finally get some “me time.” We put on our favorite Netflix show and fall into the “just one more episode” trap. Then, before we know it, it's after midnight, and there is only one more episode before the finale. This is sapping our energy in two ways: it disrupts our sleep routine and it provides the brain with light and sound that resets our internal clock. 

When we lay in bed playing on our phones or tablets, it does the same thing to our body that watching tv in bed does. A recent study showed that “light-sensitive cells in the eye can reset the internal clock when exposed to light.” (Catharine Paddock Ph.D., 2018)

Quality vs. Quantity of Sleep

Another culprit of daytime exhaustion is not getting enough quality sleep. If you have a set bedtime routine and are sleeping at least the recommended 7 hours, then the problem could be the quality of your sleep rather than the quantity. A lot of things could disrupt your quality of sleep, from an uncomfortable bed to the lighting in your room. Often these little issues can go unnoticed. For example, your alarm clock could have the time illuminated on the front, which might not seem like a big deal, but it could be disrupting your sleep without you even knowing it. Dr. Salma Farook explains, “Any light that enters your room could disturb your sleep. Ensure that your room is dark and that light emitted from digital devices is out of sight.”

Poor Diet

A less surprising factor behind low energy levels can be found in diet. A poor diet can affect our sleep, production of energy, and use of energy. There are a few important components to look into when checking if your diet is affecting your energy. These include: consuming refined carbs or heavily caffeinated drinks, low caloric intake, dehydration, and low protein diets.

Consuming Too Many Refined Carbs

Our bodies use food as fuel so it is easy to see that when we fill our bodies with the wrong fuel, we won’t get the best results. Carbohydrates are converted in our bodies into sugars, which our bodies then use as energy. When we eat refined carbs we get a fast spike in blood sugar. When our blood sugar goes up, our bodies send a signal to the pancreas, telling it to produce a large amount of insulin in order to remove the sugar from our blood cells. This cycle causes the spike and crash of blood sugar within the body. When our blood sugar levels crash, our whole body feels the repercussions of exhaustion. We can combat this by minimizing sugar and refined carbs during meals or snacks as this will lead to greater and longer-lasting energy levels.

Relying on Energy Drinks

When we feel that after-lunch exhaustion we usually turn to caffeine. In fact, there’s a coffee shop on pretty much every corner in most cities. In addition to coffee and heavily caffeinated sodas, there is another culprit that drains our energy. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Although the caffeine content varies widely among brands, an energy shot may contain up to 350 mg, and some energy drinks provide as much as 500 mg per can. By comparison, coffee typically contains between 77–150 mg of caffeine per cup.”(Spritzler, 2017)

Energy drinks often have large amounts of sugar as well as caffeine. This causes a spike in caffeine and blood sugar together — providing a devastating energy crash afterward. In order to regain lasting energy, this cycle must be broken. This should be done gradually rather than all at once. It is also important to note that drinking any form of caffeine in the afternoon can have an effect on your sleeping habits, so avoid the  afternoon cup of coffee or soda.

Not Eating Enough Calories

In a busy world, we often overlook the needs of our own bodies. We can get focused on a task, and everything else seems to become background static. Before we know it, it's 4 p.m. and we haven’t eaten lunch. This is another cause of our lack of energy. We cannot expect a vehicle to travel very far with little to no gas, so why do we expect our body to function properly without much food? Our body converts the food that we eat into energy. When we eat very few calories, our body slows the metabolism down in order to conserve energy. When this occurs it naturally causes fatigue. In order to avoid this, try to consume a minimum of 1200 calories per day. It is important to note that each person’s body is different, so the calorie intake should be relational to the person’s height and weight.

Inadequate Hydration

We all know that we should be drinking plenty of water every day in order to stay adequately hydrated. In fact, you should be drinking water before you feel thirsty, since you’re already mildly dehydrated by the time you start to feel thirst. Even when dehydration is not severe, it can result in feeling tired or lethargic.

In order to avoid this, you should drink water continuously throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by two, and the number you get will tell you how many ounces of water you should drink daily. Carrying around a water bottle with you is a good reminder to stay hydrated. Additionally, there are fun ways to remind yourself to drink water. There are apps you can download that will send you reminders and help you to track your water intake, and you can even get a water bottle that can track water consumption and blink to remind you it’s time for a refill.

Not Getting Enough Protein

Another way that your diet can affect your sleep is by not eating enough protein. Similar to when your body is dehydrated, your body will slow its metabolic rate when you’re not consuming enough proteins. When your metabolic rate slows, then your energy levels drop as a natural response. Fighting off fatigue can be as simple as eating almond butter with apple slices as an afternoon snack. 

According to one study, Korean college students who ate high-protein foods like fish, meat, eggs, or beans multiple times per day self-reported significantly lower fatigue levels. Good sources of protein don’t have to be boring. Proteins can range from chicken and eggs to nuts and beans. Eating protein-rich foods will give your body a spike in energy that is sustainable.

Sedentary Lifestyle/ Lack of Exercise

Exercising when you already feel tired may seem counterintuitive, but doing so can really raise your energy levels. 

An article in Medical News Today by Hannah Nichols explains, “Research by the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens discovered that compared with sitting quietly, one single bout of moderate-intensity exercise lasting for at least 20 minutes helped to boost energy.”

So as little as 20 minutes of exercise per day can make a big difference in energy levels. We often get swept up with the busyness of our lives and let exercise be put on the back burner, but our bodies need it! 

Sedentary Work Environments

Technology has been a double-edged sword when it comes to our health. For example, when we go to work, we have the ability to work in front of a computer and get all our tasks done in one location. The only problem is that this can send the wrong message to our bodies. When our body thinks that we are in a sedentary state, it slows our metabolic rate, as it thinks that we are saving our energy for something important later. A recent study stated that “standing while working improves collaboration and encourages creativity. In fact, workers who use standing desks report less stress and fatigue than those who don’t.”

Often when we think about sedentary work environments we think that we have to exercise during the workday in order to combat this, but that’s not the case. We can fight off fatigue simply by standing rather than sitting at our desks. When we stand we are burning calories, as we are using more muscles to support our bodies than we do when we are sitting.

Stress

Chronic stress is ongoing, or consistently recurring stress. Stress can be caused by many factors, including work, financial problems, relationship issues, major life events, moving, travel, unemployment, bereavement, or parenting. Any one of these can have an impact on our energy (and your overall health) even if it’s only for a short period of time. When experienced for a shorter duration, stress can actually be a good thing, making us more alert. This is because the body’s response to stress is “fight or flight”. The body cannot sustain its fight or flight mode over long periods of time, so chronic stress leads to feeling constantly depleted and exhausted.

There are a few things you can do to combat the exhaustion caused by stress. First, you want to identify the stressors, so that you can recognize ways to cope with stress or (if possible) remove the stressor your life. For example, you can take steps to avoid a stressful situation, person, or event. Sometimes learning to say no is the simple solution when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and it can help you to get a handle on the tasks you already have. If avoiding the stressor isn’t an option, make sure to take steps every day to reduce stress: practices like deep breathing, yoga, a hot bath, or taking a walk can all reduce stress levels and help you reset.

Medical Conditions

Lastly, feelings of exhaustion or tiredness can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Common examples include: anemia, an underactive thyroid, diabetes, anxiety, depression,

chronic fatigue syndrome, urinary tract infection, food intolerance, heart disease, glandular fever, pregnancy, Lupus, Epstein-Barr, or it could be a sign of vitamin and or mineral deficiencies. While some of these are less serious, others are extremely serious and can be life-threatening. In order to combat tiredness from an underlying medical condition, it is best to speak with a medical professional about your concerns. 

Tiredness is something that everyone around the world can relate to anyone or another, but chronic tiredness is something more serious. Causes of energy depletion can come from a variety of different sources, such as sleep, diet, activity level, stress, or medical conditions. Regardless of where exhaustion comes from, there are options to combat and even reverse its effects!

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