We live in a crazy, busy world. It’s really not surprising that almost half of American’s that get the recommended amount of sleep still wake up feeling tired almost half of the time. That’s crazy right? But it’s true. And if you survey your friends and family, you may find that even more than half feel this way.
There are a number of things that can lead to fatigue, such as poor glycemic control, eating the wrong diet, not exercising enough and poor sleep quality. If left unchecked these things can even lead to things like sexual hormone imbalances and adrenal fatigue.
So I know what you’re thinking – COFFEE! Am I right? Sorry… wrong. Coffee is nothing more than a drug treating the symptom. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious, and using caffeine occassionally isn’t always a bad thing. It’s when you start relying on stimulants to get through the day that there is a problem. Caffeine should be the exception, not the habit.
The good news is, for most of us, there are natural ways to increase your energy that also help treat the root cause of the problem.
Natural Ways To Increase Your Energy And Thrive In This Crazy, Busy World
This one may seem counter intuitive, because when you’re fatigued the last thing you want to do is physical activity. But research has shown time and time again that moderate exercise actually reduces fatigue. Like most things, too much of anything is never a good thing. You don’t want to go overboard. If you’re not currently active, try adding in 15-20 minutes of walking every day or attending a yoga class 2-3x a week. If you are active, take a step back and evaluate your activity levels to see if you should increase them slightly or perhaps even decrease them if you’re pushing yourself too hard.
Eat An Organic, Whole Foods Diet
You probably saw this one coming, but it’s true. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to fatigue, and even long term health consequences if left unchecked. The biggest offenders are iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin b12 and folic acid. The only way to ensure you’re getting all of these things is to eat a balanced diet. Supplementation can help, but without the complimentary phytonutrients found in their food source, your body can’t absorb them the same way they do from food. Try to focus on eating 2-3 servings of vegetables and fruit, a healthy fat and a serving of lean protein with each meal, and choose organic whenever possible to avoid the negative effects of pesticides and herbicides. Vegetarians have to be particularly mindful when choosing foods in order to ensure they’re getting enough B vitamins.
Spend Time Outdoors
For most of human history we would wake up with the sunrise and spend our days outside. The light emmitted from the sun would tell our bodies to produce cortisol and that would give us the energy needed to go about our day. In today’s world, we spend a lot less time outside, especially in the early morning, so our bodies don’t always get the message. This lack of sunlight can also lead to changes in sleep quality, temperature regulation issues and hormonal imbalances. Going for a morning walk would be ideal in that it would get you moving, stimulate your body to produce Vitamin D3 and it would help keep your internal clock in check. For those who can’t get outside or choose not to because of the weather, you can pick up a sun lamp or light box designed to simulate sunlight. These have been shown to help produce similar effects.
The average adult needs a MINIMUM of 64 oz of water a day. If you’re active at all, or spending time outside, you often need closer to 96 oz in order to keep your body working propertly. Most adults don’t even get the minimum and therefor are chronically dehydrated. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. In order to stay hydrated, you should drink 8 oz of water as soon as you wake up, and then continue to drink throughout the day. Water is the best option, however herbal tea and electrolite beverages can also be used.
Reduce Blue Light Exposure
Sometimes people who are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep suffer from poor sleep quality. There are many factors that effect your sleep quality (diet, exercise, stress) but one of the big ones is blue light emissions in the bedroom. It’s best to avoid blue light emissions for 1-2 hours before bed, as they simulate natural sunlight and tell your body it’s time to wake up. Phones, computers and TVs produce this blue light, as do natural light lightbulbs. When picking out lightbulbs for the bedroom, opt for ones that are more yellow (there is often an indicator on the box) and download an app for your phone and computer. If possible turn off all electronics 1-2 hours before bed and opt to read a book, take a warm bath or meditate instead.
If you find that you’re already doing all of these things, but you’re still feeling tired, there is still hope. I highly recommend getting in touch with a functional nutrition practioner or functional medicine doctor. They can order functional lab tests to identify the root cause of your fatigue and help get you back to feeling like your energetic self in no time!
This post provides general information for discussion purposes only. Anything read on this website should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.