Tired all the time? Easy ways to boost your energy
Feeling tired all the time is basically a rite of passage for adulthood.
Between waking up early, working all day, 'trying' to be active and staying on top of the life admin, there's barely enough time to go to the loo let alone catch some sleep.
No wonder you're pretty much exhausted all of the time. And you're certainly not the only one.
According to a recent YouGov survey in the UK, one in eight people are ‘tired all the the time’.
Another quarter (25% ) feel tired 'most of the time', while a third (33%) reported feeling weary around 'half of the time' and 13% exist in a state of constant exhaustion.
It's little wonder, therefore that feeling exhausted is so common that the NHS says it has spawned its own acronym; ‘TATT’, or ‘tired all the time’. So what's fuelling this, exhaustion epidemic?
The NHS says the reasons behind this common exhaustion are usually obvious, such as too many late nights, working long hours, or a baby keeping you up at night.
That's echoed in the YouGov research which found that parents of younger children are more likely to say they often feel tired.
Around a fifth (22%) of parents of at least one child under 18 say they feel tired all of the time, compared with 8% of parents of children over 18, and 13% of Britons who are not parents.
Similarly, half of women (50%) say they feel tired at the end of the day but struggle to fall asleep at night, compared to 38% of men.
But the pandemic has also had a major impact on our exhaustion levels.
Dr Jan Smith, chartered psychologist and founder of Healthy You Ltd, says we have been held in a state of collective trauma for the past two years.
"We have been getting through the past two years in whatever way we can," he explains. "And now that the imminent threat is starting to ease, we are feeling its physical and emotional impact."
The result of which has left many of us feeling perpetually tired, anxious, struggling to sleep and unsure why we're not able to nod off.
But existing in a constant state of exhaustion is no fun for anyone, thankfully, however, there are some simple ways to give your energy a big old boost, even if you feel like you're running on empty.
To boost energy during the day, try upping your fresh air and exercise.
"Exercise releases endorphins which is a happiness hormone, and getting out will increase our vitamin D exposure which is vital during these winter months," explains Dr Lindsay Browning, psychologist, neuroscientist and sleep expert at And So To Bed.
"Be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime though, as the adrenaline from it can make sleep more difficult."
Stop hitting snooze
While it's tempting to grab a few more Zzz's when your alarm goes off, pressing snooze actually disrupts your sleep cycle, making that interrupted sleep in the morning less restorative.
"It is a much better idea to set your alarm for the latest time you need to get up and actually get up at that time," advises Dr Browning.
"The reason that people get into the habit of pressing snooze on their alarm several times is because the sensation of falling asleep is pleasant - therefore we like the feeling of waking up to the alarm and then falling asleep again.
"The trouble is that the sleep quality you get is rubbish and you are likely to wake up feeling worse for those bursts of extra sleep."
Don’t skip breakfast
When you eat during the day has an impact on anchoring your circadian rhythm.
"If you skip breakfast, your body does not know that it’s actually morning and this can cause you to feel more sluggish at the start of the day," explains Dr Browning.
She says even grabbing half a banana first thing will help you to feel more alert and ready for the day.
"Regular mealtimes are a great way to help your body produce melatonin to help you sleep at the right time in the evening," she adds.
Let the light in
Bright light is another way to help control your circadian rhythm, so as soon as you wake up in the morning open your curtains to let the light in.
"Even better, go outside for a morning stroll or eat your breakfast in the garden," Dr Browning continues. "Getting light exposure early in the day will help your brain to know that it is morning and will help to wake you up."
Establish a sleep routine
People who go to bed at the same time each day and get up at the same time 7 days per week have a much stronger circadian rhythm, which means they wake up feeling less groggy.
"Our bodies fall asleep better when we go to sleep at the same time each day, because we produce melatonin to help us fall asleep," Dr Browning explains.
"If we change our bedtime significantly, by going to bed much earlier or much later, then we won’t naturally produce melatonin at that time and may struggle to fall asleep and wake up."
To wake feeling refreshed, Dr Browning suggests working on your sleep hygiene and establishing a solid routine. "This way, when your alarm goes off for work on a Monday your body won't be shocked and will adjust more easily."
Delay the caffeine hit
According to Dr Browning, our circadian rhythm makes us produce cortisol in the morning to help us wake up and feel alert.
"Because of this, caffeinated drinks should be avoided until a few hours after waking - if you start your morning with a cup of coffee you are not benefiting from the boost of cortisol," Dr Browning explains.
She suggests saving your morning coffee until around mid-morning when your cortisol starts to drop and you feel less alert. "This will ensure you feel awake for longer first thing in the morning," she adds.
Up your H2O
Sure we know we should be drinking at least two litres of water every day for our health but chugging the H2O can also have an impact on energy levels.
"Every cell in your body needs to be bathed in fluid in order to function at its best," explains physiologist and sleep expert, Dr Ramlakhan.
"Up your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and diluted fruit juices."
Breathe yourself less tired
A more effective pick-me-up than coffee is doing some breath work.
"This doesn’t have to be complicated, simply taking a few moments to make a conscious effort to focus on your breathing at regular times throughout the day can give a great energy boost," explains Dr Ramlakhan.
"Slow down and lengthen your exhale; inhale long and low into your belly and repeat this a few times."
Work with your body's ultradian rhythm
The ultradian rhythm is a rhythm that occurs several times a day, roughly every 90-120 minutes – this is your Basic Rest Activity Cycle.
"The ultradian cycle oscillates throughout our daily 24 hour circadian cycle and determines the limits of our ability to concentrate," explains Dr Ramlakhan.
"When we work in relentlessly linear fashion and against the limits of our ultradian cycle, we become more tired and eventually more prone to burnout."
Instead, she suggests working with your body’s energy rhythm will help boost your productivity and by building short periods of rest into your working day, you will be more synced to this cycle.
"Use your rest times to eat, move, breathe mindfully and deeply or reconnect with nature or loved ones," she suggests.
"We all have our unique energy patterns - times when we concentrate best and times when and we feel more sluggish. By allowing yourself to get into healthy habits and self-care routines you will be pleasantly surprised to see the positive lift in your overall energy."
Reporting by Marie Claire Dorking.
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