Find your energy and make it work for you

If there is one thing most people agree on, it’s the they need more energy. While the “afternoon slump” is experienced by almost everyone from time to time and is perfectly natural, ongoing fatigue is never OK and needs a little investigation.

Most times, a low energy level fatigue is the result of a lifestyle habit that can be easily addressed with few changes to routine. On occasion, however, it may be related to a medical condition and should be discussed with your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons for a lack of energy and what you can do to correct them.

Improve your sleep

It may seem obvious, but lack of quality sleep, or not enough hours spent sleeping, can make you feel groggy and miserable the following day, Ongoing poor sleep can spell a similarly ongoing lack of energy.

If you are feeling less energetic than you would like, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I getting seven to eight hours of sleep most nights?
  • Do I toss and turn and/or wake up several times and not be easily able to drift off again?
  • Do I wake up feeling refreshed, or wishing I could sleep longer?

What you can do

Stick to a bedtime routine including a set time for sleep. Make sure you don’t vary it at weekends. You need to train your body and mind to know their time for rest.

Eliminate all light sources from your bedroom. This includes lights from electronics such as digital clocks and monitors, street lighting, nightlight, etc. Invest in blackout drapes or wear a sleep mask such as the London Premiere Sleep Shade available in store or online. Lack of light promotes the continuous release of melatonin-the sleep hormone.

Don’t use your tablet or laptop in bed. The backlight from the screen has shown to disrupt sleep patterns. If you wish to read digitally, use an e-book reader without a backlit screen.

Make sure that pre-sleep activities are not stimulating to the mind. It is better to read something soothing, or listen to peaceful music, than do a crossword or watch TV.

Reduce caffeine-laden drinks in the afternoon. These include coffee, tea, chocolate/cocoa and many colas. Chocolate bars also contain caffeine so watch these as well…which brings us to the next topic.

Reduce sugar intake

Elevated sugar level (spikes) can lead to sudden drops that make you feel drowsy. he drop that occurs after lunch is an example-leading to afternoon slump.

What you can do

While candies, cakes and cookies are obvious culprits, refined carbohydrates like fruit juices, white bread, bagels, rice, and potatoes all contain or are converted to simple sugars in the body. Since they are digested quickly, they lead to a spike and then a dip in blood sugar levels that leaves you feeling fatigued.

Replacing refined carbs with whole grain varieties and juices for whole fruits will help keep sugar levels steady, and you feeling more energized. Adding protein will also slow the emptying of your stomach and associated spiking of blood sugar.

Move more

Physical activity creates energy, so  sitting at a desk for hours is a sure-fire way to feeling bushed. Movement causes nitric oxide to be release from the linings of your arteries, allowing blood to flow better through your blood vessels. As a result, you cells receive more nutrients to elevate your energy levels.

What you can do

Heed the advice of experts and set an alarm to alert you every half hour of the need to stand up and move about. You don’t have to jog around the office, a simple walk for a couple of minutes is enough for your body to move heart-threatening fats out of your blood stream. Stretching your hip flexor muscles is also a good idea as these tend to shorten when you are seated for a long time, causing backache, aching hips and sore knees. (Trey holding the back of your chair and raising one knee to the chest and then the other, then do a couple of lunges.)

Avoid dehydration

Allowing yourself to become dehydrated is a major cause of lethargy. Our cells depend on water as part of the process of energy creation. Even mid dehydration can cause low energy.

What you can do

Fill a 2-litre bottle with good old water, and make sure you get through it during the day (this approximates eight glasses of water). Don’t allow yourself to become thirsty as this is a sign dehydration has already taken place. You will need more water on hot days or if working out. Remember, if your urine is yellow, you need to rehydrated fast.

Don’t skip breakfast

Despite knowing better, many people still skip breakfast, either because they don’t have time for it, or because an early morning cup of coffee kills their appetite. More common is the simple carbohydrate-laden breakfast, such as toasted bagel with jam or honey, sugary coffee, and fruit juice. Many people assume that a Danish is also a reasonable choice for breakfast, since all those calories will be worked off later in the day. Rather than use up calories, the result is a spike, then fall, in blood sugar and an associated desire to eat more carbs.

What you can do

Morning schedules can be hectic, especially if you are a working parent with children to organize. Even if you can’t afford the time to sit down and eat, you can make sure your breakfast is both convenient and well balanced by grabbing an energy bar. (London Drugs carries a wide variety of bars, so be sure to check them out.)

If you can find time for a sit-down breakfast, consider a whole grain bagel or toast with peanut or almond butter for protein and healthy fats. These will help prevent an energy slump a short while later.

Be aware of your metabolism

Knowing your basic metabolic rate (BMR) and how your food intake and calorie expenditure affect it can help you stay healthy and energized.

Consider attending a London Drugs Nutrition & Healthy Weight clinic (dates and locations on the next two pages) to determine your BMR and what you can do to make the healthy changes that can leas to increased energy.

“Find Your Energy and Make It Work for You.” Better Care Healthy Lifestyles
Volume XXI No. 1 | Winter-Spring 2016