Low on energy? Here’s 7 ways to boost your energy levels throughout the day
Health

Low on energy? Here’s 7 ways to boost your energy levels throughout the day

clock-circular-outlinePosted 18 Mar 2022

Familiar with those 3pm energy crashes? It’s rough, we know, experiencing low energy throughout the day can be a major concern, especially when you’re wanting to be productive, alert, and get stuff done! A lack of energy can result in you not feeling yourself, not performing your best and having no motivation to do the things you might’ve once enjoyed.

In the USA alone, over two-thirds of employees experience fatigue in the workplace, and burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new pandemic of its own, the pandemic of exhaustion. On top of the physical demands of the virus and change in lifestyle factors, the uncertainty of the last two years has contributed to a psychological burnout that many are suffering from.

Since energy is essential for all functions of life, and a priority for enjoying optimum health and wellbeing, it's time we get serious about boosting our energy levels. As Dr. Jonny Bowden, a certified nutrition expert says, it’s time to “plug the holes that drain your energy”.

So before you get too tired of reading, let’s get to our 7 top tips on how to boost your energy.

Our 7 Tips For Boosting Energy

  • Get More Sleep

  • Eat For Energy

  • Move More Often

  • Get Sunlight In The Morning

  • Cold Water Therapy

  • Sync Up With Your Menstrual Cycle

  • Don’t Neglect Rest Days

Get More Sleep

Quality sleep is priority number one for energy, productivity, mood, recovery and overall health. Not sleeping enough might just be the prime culprit for a lack of energy during the day. The importance of a good night’s rest can be easily brushed off and replaced by something deemed of more priority in the evening (we see you TikTok scrollers).

But the truth is, sleep doesn’t only affect your energy levels; a poor sleep routine can be the cause of a host of both physical and mental health problems, and consistently sleeping less than 5 hours a night has been found to actually decrease your life expectancy. It’s even been found that sleep deprivation of over 17 hours is equivalent to being drunk.

It’s not just about the quantity of sleep either, the quality is crucial too. You may hit the pillow 8 hours before you wake up, but if you’re lying awake for hours, tossing and turning or getting up repeatedly throughout the night, you’re not getting the quality of sleep you need.

Tracking your sleep with a sleep app or fitness watch can measure the quality of your sleep, outlining the stages of sleep and showing how long you actually spend sleeping, awake, or moving around. To improve your overall sleep hygiene, The National Sleep Foundation [1] suggests you should be aiming for 7-9 hours sleep a night on average, with 50-60% being in light sleep, 10-25% being in deep sleep, 20-25%% being in REM sleep and 5-10% spent awake [2].

How can you sleep better?

  • switch off before bed - try taking time away from electronics to wind down for sleep without a screen

  • reading - the action of turning pages and reading words can make your brain tire and your eyes sleepy, you’ll be snoozing in no time

  • try going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day - your internal clock will love you for this one as it will reinforce your natural circadian rhythm

  • don’t eat too late - digestion takes up a lot of energy during the night which can make you feel like you haven’t got a good night's rest

  • cold water therapy - can help manage stress and promote calmness to help you get a better night's sleep

Eat For Energy

Now to the fuel for our bodies, food! Putting the right fuel into our bodies will give us the energy we need to perform our best and optimize our health, but we need to take into consideration the whole energy making process.

Our mitochondria break down the food we eat and take the adequate nutrients needed to fuel our bodies, by turning them into the energy (ATP). Just like us, the mitochondria need to be fuelled properly, and there are plenty of foods we can eat to help our mitochondria to perform optimally, and boost our energy levels.

A diet rich in whole foods and full of nutrients is key to prolonged energy throughout the day. For optimal mitochondria function, attention should be paid to both the macronutrients and micronutrients we are putting into our body.

Iron, B Vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Zinc, Sulphur, Omega-3, CoQ10, are all vital nutrients required for healthy mitochondria and sufficient ATP production to increase your energy levels [3]. Alongside this, ensuring we prioritise eating enough protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates, whilst minimising processed food and our sugar intake will contribute to an increase in energy levels [4].

Ensuring you watch how much sugar you’re consuming throughout the day is one way to keep your energy levels stable, as sugar causes glucose levels to spike and dip which can result in energy loss.

And it’s not just certain foods that can drain us of energy, the process of eating takes up energy itself, and a huge amount of energy is required in digestion, meaning if we don’t give ourselves sufficient time between meals, our bodies will be constantly requiring precious energy for digestion throughout the day.

Move More Often

You know the feeling when you’re at work and you feel your eyes growing heavy and you keep having to jolt yourself back to full consciousness? The solution to waking yourself up is often to just get up and get moving; whether that’s having a lil’ shake, stretching your body or going for a walk. After moving around a little, you suddenly have more energy and feel refocused.

When you’re feeling a lack of energy, slumped even - this is actually an optimal time to exercise, as pushing through that tiredness ends up giving you that much needed energy-boost. Engaging in regular exercise, even just a low-intensity workout can help to diminish the symptoms of fatigue and contribute to more energy over time [5].

Exercise can give you not only an energy boost, but a mood boost too. The endorphins released when exercising tend to affect us positively, contributing to greater feelings of wellbeing and a “natural high”. So when you’re feeling a little low on energy, don’t skip that gym session, as you could be missing out on some massive mental and energy gains!

Get Sunlight In The Morning

There’s a reason we wake up so much easier when the sun is shining, peaking through the gaps in our blinds in the morning, and also the same reason why sunrise lamps are so popular during the winter. This is due to sunlight aiding in the correct production of the stress hormone cortisol, which sets up our natural body clock for the day.

There’s so much value in getting morning sunlight, especially Vitamin D for your mental health and energy levels, with studies finding that just 5-30 minutes of direct sunlight on your face 2-3 times a week is enough for your body to produce the adequate amount of Vitamin D3 [6]. Exposure to sunlight within the first hour of waking up is found to improve focus, productivity, and energy. This is because sunlight encourages cortisol levels to be released at the appropriate time, which brings an extra boost of energy at the start of the day.

The reason we need natural light from the sun to give us this energy boost at the start of the day is because the intenseness of light (the lux levels) are stronger from direct sunlight in comparison to artificial light. In discussing this, Dr. Huberman, Neuroscientist, outlines that on a clear sunny day, 5-10 minutes of sunlight is optimal in the morning, 10-20 minutes on a cloudy day, and in comparison, an ordinary artificial light would require 6 hours of exposure, which would then put you too late in the day for your cortisol levels to be reaching the right levels [7].

Morning sunlight not only contributes to an increase in energy during the day, it can also help you sleep better at night. This exposure to sunlight in the morning activates your circadian rhythm, signalling your brain to produce cortisol and suppress melatonin, which means by the time the evening comes, your body knows its day shift is over and it’s time to sleep [8].

Cold Water Therapy

Found to not only improve your mental health and mental resilience, cold water therapy might just be the trick for you to get your energy levels up. For those of you familiar with the Wimhof method [9], you’ll know that taking an ice bath or cold shower can improve your sleep, and the better quality of sleep you have, the easier it is to combat daily fatigue and boost energy levels.

Cold water therapy can help you sleep better because when you jump in a cold shower or immerse yourself in a cold bath before bed, the decrease in body temperature causes your melatonin levels to spike, signalling to your body that it’s time to sleep. Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland at night, and is what regulates the production and timing of your sleep cycle.

Another way to get those zzz’s in easier is by using cold temperatures to trigger the vagus nerve. This nerve, which runs through our face, neck, chest and down to our abdomen, when stimulated promotes calming effects in the body, slowing the heart rate down and preparing you for sleep.

According to one study, there is a direct correlation between cold stimulation of the vagus nerve and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning you’ll feel calmer and less stressed and hopefully ready to snooze off effortlessly [10]. So why not try a cold minute or two at the end of your shower or apply an ice pack to the lateral neck region and see how well you sleep?

Sync Up With Your Menstrual Cycle

Throughout the different phases of the menstrual cycle, you might find your energy levels waxing and waning, which can be both disheartening and frustrating. But by tracking which phase you’re in and what’s coming up, you can learn to work with your cycle, not against it.

Whilst we might think we’re superheroes most of the time, trying to get everything done and tick of all the bullet points on our to-do-list, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re more than likely going to have weeks where energy levels vary.

During the low energy phases which tend to be during menstruation, and in the luteal phase, you may need to take it easier, do lower intensity exercise, minimise your work tasks and get more sleep. Since your oestrogen and progesterone levels drop which can result in a lack of energy, pushing yourself too far can result in burnout [11].

The follicular phase of your period may offer some more energy as your hormones increase, and then during ovulation, whilst estrogen is at its peak, you may find you have an increase in energy, making it the ideal time to get creative, up the productivity and socialisation [12].

Keeping track of where you are in your cycle allows you to make the relevant plans, reprioritise, and reschedule so you can work with your body’s needs and keep your energy levels up.

Don’t Neglect Rest Days

Finally, but definitely not of any lesser importance, is the value of rest and recovery for energy. When we use our bodies physically, whether that’s in the gym or in our daily life, we are breaking down our muscle fibres and depleting our body’s energy stores. This is a lot of stress put on both our mind and body, so it’s important to make time for rest days, and allow time for our muscle tissue to repair and glycogen stores to be replaced, which is essential for muscle growth.

Rest days also help to prevent injury and reduce fatigue, which can show up in your workouts when low on energy. It’s best to take at least one rest day during the week, but if you’re feeling inclined to take more days off due to being tired, then it’s crucial that you listen to your body and scale it back if needed. If you’re feeling fatigued during your workouts, perhaps you could consider reducing the intensity and having a deload week, or taking up some gentler movements like yoga or pilates.

It’s also vital to allow yourself rest for your mental health too. Life and everything that it throws at us, stress, anxiety and day-to-day tasks can all impact our energy levels, and can take a toll on our immune system. So honour when you feel like you need to take a break from socialising, and when you need to prioritise yourself, rest and self-care. Rest and relaxation is crucial to managing stress, and will allow you to bounce back with more energy and better health!

Looking for some healthy and nutritious recipes to boost your energy levels? Try our 5 delicious recovery smoothies.

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Want to know more about the science behind sleep? Check out this article from Gymshark athlete and extreme-adventurer come author Ross Edgley.

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[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29073398/ [2] https://blog.fitbit.com/sleep-stages-explained/

[3] https://deannaminich.com/what-to-eat-to-fuel-a-healthy-mitochondria/

[4] https://www.hss.edu/article_eating-for-energy.asp

[5] https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20080229/tired-all-the-time-step-it-up

[6] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

[7] https://hubermanlab.com/using-cortisol-and-adrenaline-to-boost-our-energy-and-immune-system/

[8] https://www.tuck.com/sleep/importance-of-morning-sunlight-for-better-sleep/

[9] https://www.wimhofmethod.com/cold-therapy

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6334714/

[11] https://www.womenshealth.gov/getting-active/physical-activity-menstrual-cycle#:~:text=Does%20my%20menstrual%20cycle%20affect,long%20sports%20events%2C%20like%20marathons.

[12] https://www.myhormonology.com/what-your-energy-level-is-like-from-week-to-week-in-your-cycle/

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