Tired of being tired? Do you wonder why you are so sluggish during the day, imag
ining how to have a full day's worth of energy plus some to spare? Here is some
basic but essential advice on getting more energy anyone can take.
Fueling Up With Diet
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Eat breakfast, even if you're not hungry. Breakfast is probably the most imp
ortant meal of the day in terms of energy. It gets your metabolism going and
is probably the one meal that you can afford to splurge on. Breakfast primes you
for the rest of the day. Researchers have even found that a little breakfast ce
real in the morning is linked to lower amounts of the stress hormone cortisol.[2
If you're worried about weight, don't skip breakfast. Have a complete br
eakfast, a smaller lunch, and perhaps a snack for dinner. Eating in the morning
is far preferable to eating at night for people trying to lose weight.
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Eat about every four hours to prevent a spike and dip in blood sugar. Eating
three large meals spaced out five to six hours can take more energy to digest,
causing a huge surge in blood sugar, followed by a fall off a cliff. The idea is
to keep blood sugar levels stable all day instead of letting them rise and fall
Eat foods that will sustain you. At every small meal, choose either carb
s (preferably complex), protein, or healthful fats (omega-3, monounsaturated, et
c.). These foods will help keep you from feeling hungry an hour or two after eat
Eat the same amount of food every three to four hours, or go for healthf
ul snacks in between smaller meals. Examples of energizing but healthful snacks
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Don't go overboard on caffeine after noon. Just because a little bit is good
doesn't mean that a lot is better. Just ask the over-caffeinated person who has
trouble getting to sleep at a reasonable hour at night because they've consumed
more caffeine that is healthy or balanced. 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine sh
ould be your upper limit
any more and you'll be bouncing off the walls at night
and slugging out of bed in the morning.
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Stay hydrated with water during the day. Doctors and scientists alike believ
e that drinking water is a key component to being healthier and feeling more ene
rgized during the day, although there is some disagreement about how much is nee
One camp says that you should drink enough water to stay satiated. Drink
whenever you're thirsty, but be aware of the color of your urine: if it gets to
o yellow, up your fluid intake (especially water).
Another camp says that humans should drink between 2.2 liters (0.6 US ga
l) (for women) and 3 liters (0.79 US gal) (for men) per day.
Know that alcohol or caffeine can make you dehydrated, so you'll probabl
y need more water to compensate. If you do drink alcohol or caffeine regularly,
be aware of that.
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Get more fiber into your diet. Fiber releases energy at a slow, steady rate,
unlike simple carbohydrates, for example, giving your body more energy to work
with over a longer time. Some foods that you might consider eating or snac
king on that are high in fiber:
Breakfast cereal such as raisin bran, or oatmeal
Beans or legumes such as black beans or edamame
Pear or apple, with skin
Whole wheat pasta
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Eat plenty of healthy fats. People are scared of fats, and sometimes justifi
ably so. But not all fats are created equal. Omega-3 fats especially, but also m
onounsaturated fats, can be healthy and even energy-rich. Omega-3 fatty acids
, found in nuts, fish, and certain vegetable oils (canola), will help you feel m
entally alert in addition to giving your diet a healthy makeover.
Turbocharging Your Sleep
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Turn off the bright lights and TV screens after 8. Bright lights can upset t
he body's release of melatonin, which tells you when it's time to go to bed (and
helps you fall asleep). Adjusting your exposure to light in the hours before
sleep will help you fall asleep easier and get a better night's sleep.
Dim your lights an hour before getting ready for bed. Invest in a dimmer
if you haven't already. Dim lights will help your body start producing melatoni
n, giving you a better chance of falling sleep early.
Turn off bright computer monitors and TV screens after 8. If you have tr
ouble getting to sleep early on in the night, bright computer monitors and TV sc
reens are your enemy. If you have to be connected, try to dim the lights on the
computer so that your overall exposure to light is less.
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Don't keep looking at your alarm clock. Waiting for your alarm clock to hit
and stressing about how late it's getting
may actually keep you f
a certain time
rom getting a restful sleep. It seems like the harder you try to fall asleep, th
e harder it is to actually do.
The solution: turn your alarm clock so that it's facing away from you. O
r even better: place your alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you
can't see it and you have to get out of bed in order to turn it off in the morni
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Consider sleeping alone. For those who like to snuggle with their partner at
night, the results may seem alarming: researchers found that people who sleep i
n the same bed as their partners woke up during the night, experienced major dis
turbances, and got less restful sleep. If you suffer from chronic fatigue, t
alk with your partner about sleeping alone at least a couple nights per week.
Don't invite your pet in on the sleepover. A study by Mayo Clinic Sleep
Disorders Center found that 53% of pet owners who slept with their pets experien
ced a major sleep disturbance during the night.
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Don't have that drink before bed. People who have an alcoholic beverage befo
re bed have a higher likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night when the
body finishes processing the alcohol, studies say. When you're sober, your
parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) lowers your heart rate, giving you a restfu
l sleep. When your body is processing alcohol, your sympathetic nervous system n
ever gives up the reigns to the PNS, leaving you more tired than you would have
been had you fallen asleep naturally.
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If you can't fall asleep, stop trying. If, after 15 minutes of trying to go
to sleep, you find that you can't, get out of bed and read, write, or find anoth
er soothing activity. (Remember, no bright lights or TV screens!) Not being able
to go to sleep, and trying really hard to do so, can produce stress, which will
ultimately keep you awake longer. Finish your activity and then try to go to sl
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Sleep with the temperature down. Cool environments help the body get better
sleep. That's because cool temperatures help bring on the drop in core temperatu
re that signals sleepiness.
What's the ideal temperature at which to fall asleep? Scientists say tha
t a relatively cool temperature of between 60 and 68 degrees is optimal for gett
ing to sleep. Studies have found that insomniacs have higher core temperatur
es right before they get into bed.
If you're having trouble getting to sleep, try dropping the temperature
pretty low and putting a hot water bottle in between your feet. A hot water
bottle will rapidly dilate blood vessels, which can help regulate the body's int
Learning Pick-Me-Up Tricks
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Splash some cold water on your face. Showering helps, too. A little bit of c
ool H2O on the face is an energizing treat people have been using for a quite a
while. This is water therapy at its finest and most efficient.
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Dress for success. If you stay in your pajamas, sweats, or birthday suit all
day long, you may trick your brain into thinking it has an excuse to be lazy. I
f you get dressed in "normal" attire, however, you're telling yourself that ther
e are things to do, people to see, and happiness to be found. We all know how co
mforting those sweats can be. But when it's time to get out of bed and be active
, they're not as energy-producing as you might have hoped.
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Ease negative feelings by expressing them. People who have problems that are
vexing them keep them inside for all sorts of reasons: they don't want to bothe
r other people, they're afraid of how other people may judge them, or they simpl
y feel they don't have the time to vent. Not being able to find a good emotional
release for problems can be taxing to your energy.
Have a talk with one of your close friends. Confide in someone you can t
rust. Lay your feelings bare. Trust that the person you're confiding in has your
best interest at heart and wants to help, if not hear you out. Getting rid of y
our anxiety in this way may help to lower stress and keep you energized longer.
Write down your feelings in a journal every day. If you don't have someo
ne you feel you can confide it, a journal is a perfect substitute. Write down yo
ur feelings, your hopes, your aspirations. Simply putting them on paper can feel
oddly relaxing and transforming.
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Listen to music. Whether it's Beethoven or Black Sabbath, music can give you
an emotional boost. One recent study found that people who listened to music wh
ile running ran faster than those who didn't. Try burning a CD of your favor
ite tracks and listening to it when you need a pick-me-up.
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Don't forget to exercise. Exercise is about as close to a panacea as humans
have gotten. Exercise improves health, mood, and your ability to sleep as well a
s feel energized. If you don't exercise regularly, try fitting a little bit of e
xercise into your daily routine. Walking for 30 minutes a day can be a huge boon
to your health and energy levels.
Make time for office exercise. Whether it's sitting on an exercise ball
instead of an office chair, doing stretches in front of your computer, or carvin
g out time to walk during your lunch break, being at the office is no longer an
excuse not to exercise.
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Think of ways, big and small, to give back. Being generous and altruistic ca
n boost mood, life satisfaction, and energy levels. Find a way to give back
to less fortunate people in your community for an instant mood and energy boost.