I am a big fan of the Walking Dead. Even though I am not a big fan of the mid-season 6 month breaks. Fortunately, going to work on Mondays seems to fill my Walking Dead appetite since most Americans walk around like Zombies.
But why is that? Many of my clients report feeling sluggish despite getting what they believe to be adequate sleep. Well, it could be a multitude of issues affecting your energy level. Here are a few common energy-affecting issues and some solutions around them:
- You’re getting sleep quantity, but not sleep quality: Yes you might sleep 8 hours a night because Mr. T told you to (if you’re too young to get that, wiki the 1980’s). But are those 8 quality hours? Many times the answer is no. A few things you could immediately do to increase quality sleep are:
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible shutting out all light
- Turn down the temp when you sleep making it a cool low 70’s or high 60’s (but make sure you’re comfortable enough to sleep)
- Try white noise (a Hepa fan for instance)
- Skip that alcohol before bed. I know it helps you “unwind” but studies show that alcohol actually disrupts peaceful sleep.
- Don’t sleep on a completely empty stomach. That doesn’t mean eat a 3-course meal just before bed. But a tablespoon of almond butter or all natural peanut butter can help stabilize blood sugar levels helping energy levels upon waking.
- You’re experiencing low level dehydration: Water is one of the basic necessities to life. Ever watch Naked and Afraid? If they don’t get water almost immediately, energy levels go to nil pretty quickly. You might not be in the jungle or desert, but you may be experiencing this same phenomena to a lesser level. Make drinking more water simple:
- Keep a glass of water next to your bed. Drink it upon waking. Not only is this a good way to increase water intake, but it’s a great first win to start the day. That little win can lead to better choices throughout the day.
- Drink a glass of water before and during each meal. This will increase water and decrease appetite meaning less calories at each meal!
- You’re not recovering from your workouts: Yes we want you to push yourself. But too much of anything is a bad thing. That includes working out which creates acute inflammation. This acute inflammation can be a good thing, if you let your body recover. But if you keep beating your body up, it creates chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is not our friend. It will suppress the immune system, affect recovery and hormone levels, disrupt focus, and make your Central Nervous System just plain feel sluggish. If you’re feeling run down:
- You might just need a day off from the gym. Take a recovery day or take it easier for a few days. Foam roll, stretch, focus on movement training, less sets and reps, maybe some low intensity cardio.
- Try an Epsom Salt bath. There’s very little research surrounding it’s use, but anecdotal evidence points to Epsom Salt aiding in at least relaxing muscle tissue and reducing soreness.
- You’re waking up at the wrong time: Alarms are still a relatively recent invention in our history. It’s possible our sleep cycles haven’t adjusted to being pulled out of deep sleep by an incredibly awful, nagging, high pitched sound. It is best to wake “gently” and slowly pull yourself out of sleep.
- Try apps like Wake or Warmly.
- You might actually be missing some sleep: It is possible to get into “sleep debt.” Sleep debt is just as it sounds: you’ve missed a few hours of sleep here or there. Some experts claim that eventually, you must catch up on every hour of sleep missed. If you feel the eye lid burning sensation throughout the day:
- Get a power nap. Make sure to limit power naps to 20 minutes tops. Going longer than 20 minutes can risk going into deeper sleep cycles. If you need to know why that’s bad, see problem #4 above.
Ultimately, energy level is a very personal experience. The best advice is to keep a journal detailing energy levels on different days, under different conditions. Try one tip at a time and write it down along with any other differences in routine. Find which days and routines give you the best energy levels and do your best to recreate that routine as often as possible.