Feeling fatigued? You’re not alone. 40% of today’s workforce struggle with fatigue regularly while at least 15 percent of women report debilitating fatigue that keeps them from daily activities. That’s rather amazing…until you consider the demands of career, family life, technology, the holidays, etc. It’s no wonder we run out of steam! Here’s how you can boost your energy by honing in on three key lifestyle habits: sleep, diet and exercise.
Do you get enough rest? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can leave you irritable, slow concentration and compromise reaction time. Improve the quality of your sleep by:
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Natural sleep rhythms are reinforced when we go to bed and wake at approximately the same time each day.
- Avoiding caffeine and snacking on spicy or high-fat foods before bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep.
- Reserving your bedroom for rest and relaxation only. Studying, working or exercising in your bedroom may make it harder to wind down and fall asleep in that space.
- Exercising in the late afternoon. The rise and subsequent fall in body temperature during and after exercise promotes sleep.
Diet, both what and when we eat, has a profound influence on energy level. A quick rise in blood sugar may offer a sweet momentary rush, but it is followed by a “crash” that can leave us feeling twice as tired. To keep blood sugar on an even keel – and likewise your energy – try eating five to six whole-food-centered small meals (150 to 400 calories) throughout the day. This prevents consuming too many calories in one sitting, which can direct blood flow away from the brain and to the digestive system, which causes that sluggish feeling.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Even mild dehydration zaps energy. And be sure to get enough iron. Anemia can leave you feeling chronically tired. Pre-menopausal women are most susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia.
Nothing moves nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood through your body and brain as well as a solid exercise session. Whether it’s a quick stretch accompanied by deep breathing or a 30- to 60-minute cardio workout, exercise is an incredible pick-me-up. Plus, it’s the one thing we never regret doing!
Between less sunlight and the busy-ness of the winter holiday season, it’s especially important to stay committed to self-care. Remember, when you care for you, you’ll have more to give the ones you love.
Author’s footnote: From thyroid to heart disease, there can be more serious causes for fatigue. If you’re feeling fatigued, please see your doctor.