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Why You’re Always Exhausted (And How to Get Your Energy Back)

"Discover the Surprising Reasons Behind Your Fatigue and Simple Tips to Boost Your Energy!"

By Lilith EvergardenPublished 26 days ago 6 min read
Why You’re Always Exhausted (And How to Get Your Energy Back)
Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Do you feel tired all the time? If you're anything like me, you may have spent years waking up exhausted every single day or just generally feeling drained all the time. It's frustrating, but I don't feel that way anymore. Over the past few years, I've delved into sleep research and examined my own habits to figure out how to feel less tired and more energized, and today, I'm sharing those insights with you.

These top research-backed tips will help you feel more alert and alive, and they'll also help you fall asleep faster if you struggle with that too. Consider this your ultimate guide to feeling less tired, a reference you can turn to whenever you're hitting those energy slumps.

First, let's address the two obvious factors. Number one: Are you getting enough sleep? It might seem like a no-brainer, but many people don't know how much sleep their brain and body actually need. So, how many hours should you be getting? Seven to eight hours consistently is optimal, yet over fifty percent of people get less than six hours a night. Studies have shown that getting less than six hours regularly is equivalent to being cognitively impaired, and getting under four hours is even worse. There's a small genetic minority that can function on minimal sleep, but chances are, you and I are not part of that group. If you're struggling with energy, the first step is to ensure you're getting enough sleep.

Do whatever you can to regularly get close to eight hours of sleep, and if you aren't already, you'll likely notice a huge difference. Number two, before we dive into actionable changes, is to ask yourself: What is your chronotype? Are you an early bird or a night owl? These aren't just cute terms; there are genetic differences that make some people more likely to wake up early and others to stay up late. It's not just about forcing yourself to go to bed at a different time.

If you're naturally a night owl trying to fall asleep early, you won't get good-quality sleep because it doesn't align with your innate circadian rhythm. This is partly why teenagers often feel exhausted in school; their chronotype shifts to later as they go through puberty, making early mornings exceptionally tough. Later school start times have been shown to increase class attendance, decrease behavioral and psychological issues, and reduce substance abuse among teens. While you might not always control your schedule, if you can match it to your chronotype, you'll be well on your way to feeling less tired. Keep in mind that your chronotype can change throughout your life.

To break down these science-backed tips, let's start from the moment you wake up and move through your day, ending with bedtime habits. What do the first moments of your day include? An alarm? It might be time to change your alarm sound. Studies show that melodic alarms, like those playing music, reduce perceived sleep inertia and morning tiredness, improve psychomotor abilities, and decrease attention issues compared to neutral alarms. Personally, I prefer an alarm that starts quietly and gradually builds, so I'm not jolted awake. Ultimately, choose something melodic and pleasant.

Don't Hit Snooze!: Your body goes through multiple sleep cycles every night, from light sleep to deep sleep to REM sleep, and then back to light sleep. This repeats over and over. If your alarm goes off in the middle of deep sleep, you're way more likely to feel groggy when woken up. The problem with the snooze button is that when you're close to your natural waking time, your body starts preparing itself by releasing hormones and increasing body temperature. Alarms often cut this process short, which is why you feel tired, especially when sleep deprived. By hitting the snooze button, you're essentially telling your body to restart another sleep cycle and head back towards deep sleep. This means you'll have the same problem when the alarm goes off again and may feel even more tired. Honestly, you're much better off getting that extra 10 or 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep than setting your alarm early and snoozing it repeatedly.

Move Around When You Wake Up: Recent evidence has shown that as little as 30 seconds of physical activity can improve perceived alertness in the morning. This might be because of an increased cortisol awakening response. While participants felt more alert, they didn't perform any better on tests with morning exercise, but hey, sometimes you just want to feel better.

Expose Yourself to Bright Light in the Morning: Light exposure is key to regulating your sleep patterns. Sunlight is the best way to trigger this, but studies have found that even bright artificial light in the morning can help stimulate wakefulness beyond just the morning. Make sure you're exposed to daylight. Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day. If you have trouble falling asleep, experts recommend one hour of morning daylight exposure and turning down the lights before bedtime.

Hydrate First Thing in the Morning: When your body hasn't taken in any fluids for a while, hydration can be super helpful! Studies have shown that alertness and concentration improve with hydration, as do cognitive abilities and mood.

Caffeine – Your Secret Cheat Code: We all know and love caffeine. It’s like a secret cheat code for feeling less tired. Your brain naturally accumulates adenosine throughout the day, making you feel tired, but caffeine binds to these same receptors, blocking them from making you feel tired. It's a great temporary solution, but with chronic caffeine use, your brain creates more receptors, meaning you need more caffeine to block that adenosine accumulation.

Most people can have a perfectly healthy relationship with caffeine. The bigger problem is how close to bedtime you're drinking it. Since the half-life of coffee is around six hours, having a coffee at 6 p.m. means that by midnight, 50% of it will still be in your body, directly impacting sleep quality. Limiting your caffeine intake to the morning or midday will not only make it easier to fall asleep but also improve your sleep quality through the night.

The Role of Diet: Some people feel a huge difference when eating healthy consistently. The science behind this is tricky because there are so many different diets, and everybody's body reacts differently to food. Studies show correlations between whole food diets and higher energy levels, while higher levels of processed foods can make people feel more tired. High-sugar and low-fiber diets also impact non-REM sleep quality, leading to more awakenings at night. Similar to coffee, avoid eating too close to bedtime to prevent indigestion, which can impact your sleep.

Exercise for Better Sleep: Sleep studies show that exercise increases total sleep time, especially non-REM, and improves overall sleep quality. Alertness improves, and the time it takes to fall asleep decreases with fewer waking times across the night. However, the relationship between exercise and sleep isn't always consistent on a day-to-day basis. Long-term changes make a bigger difference. Interestingly, while exercise improves sleep, sleep can also improve your exercise capacity, creating a positive reinforcement cycle.

Avoid exercising right before bed, as body temperature can remain high for an hour or two, making it harder for your body to cool down in preparation for sleep.

The Power of Naps: 20- to 30-minute naps have been shown to increase productivity, cognitive function, memory, creativity, and reduce tiredness. Just remember, under 30 minutes, you’re not likely to go into deep sleep. For a longer nap, aim for a full sleep cycle, around 1.5 hours, to wake up feeling refreshed. Avoid napping after 3 p.m. to ensure it doesn't interfere with your ability to fall asleep later.

The Downside of Alcohol: It’s ironic that we tend to drink in the evenings because alcohol is sleep's worst enemy. While a nightcap might seem relaxing, it actually robs you of restful sleep, keeping you in lighter stages of sleep and contributing to impaired breathing and frequent awakenings. Being hungover won’t help you feel more energetic or look better.

Bedtime Routines for Better Sleep

Warm Shower or Bath: A warm shower or bath before bed can help. Once you get out, your body will start to cool down, mimicking the natural process that happens as you fall asleep. This can help you feel sleepy and relaxed.

Sleep in a Dark, Cool Environment: Darkness and coolness promote sleep. Remove any gadgets or bright clocks. If you have a clock, turn it away so you won't worry about the time. Put away your gadgets to avoid the temptation of checking them.

Avoid Bright Lights: If you can't fall asleep after 30 minutes, get up and do a relaxing activity. Avoid bright lights, as your body's circadian rhythm responds to light. Keeping it dark will help you fall back asleep.

By implementing these tips, you can transform your sleep habits and feel more energized throughout the day. If you found this guide helpful, give it a like, comment, and share with your friends. For more mind-blowing and intriguing content, follow me and stay tuned for more tips on boosting your energy and overall well-being!

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Lilith Evergarden

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    Lilith EvergardenWritten by Lilith Evergarden

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