Health experts reveal their secrets for boosting your get-up-and-go, when it’s got and up and gone…
Sadly there’s no magic pill that will take you from sluggish to sprightly. Asugar rush or caffeine jolt can give a quick fix, but it’s proven that maintaining high-energy is all about balancing well-being. But as these experts have learned, there are tricks you can try for both long term and instant energy…
Lisa Artis, head of The Sleep Council
‘I’ve learned that sleep is not a passive process, that during restorative sleep we make sense of our days and detox. We’re eager to believe that sleeping one hour less gives us one more hour of productivity but in reality, it’s likely to do the opposite. We need sleep to function, both physically and mentally. It regulates mood, improves memory and maintains health, weight and energy. If sleep deprivation mounts up, I get sleepy during the day, feel lethargic, find decision-making difficult, make more mistakes, have a shorter temper and slower reflexes.
Sleep solutions for all-day energy
Our bodies thrive on routine, so establish a fixed bedtime and a time to get up and stick to it.
Fling Open The Curtains
Natural light resets the internal body clock and is effective, even on a cloudy or grey day. ‘Exposure to morning light helps me get over that groggy feeling when waking and makes me more alert,’ says Lisa.
Nap If You Need To
An energising power nap works if you’re feeling particularly fatigued – just don’t make it a substitute for quality sleep at night. ‘A 20-minute nap can provide as much energy as two cups of strong coffee but the effects are longer lasting. It turns off the nervous system and recharges the whole body,’ says Lisa.
Ditch The Nightcap
Alcohol may help you relax and fall asleep quicker, but it interrupts sleep patterns. ‘By losing valuable sleep and having vital brain functions disrupted, you’ll wake up feel drained, groggy, and often with a headache,’ says Lisa.
Wind Down Well
Give yourself an hour before bedtime to sufficiently de-stress. ‘Do things that you find relaxing whether that’s a warm bath, reading, listening to music. Write down any worries, thoughts or to-do’s in a notepad,’ suggest Lisa.
Dr Louise Newson, GP and menopause expert
When oestrogen and testosterone dips during the menopause, a common symptom is low energy and poor stamina. Sleep is often affected too. I had overwhelming fatigue when I was perimenopausal and felt as if I’d been drugged. The most frustrating part was going to bed early but waking up several times in the night, making me more exhausted. These symptoms often come on gradually and, all too often, women blame their lifestyle or other stresses, rather than their declining hormone levels.
Help Your Hormones
See Your GP
Find out if hormone replacement therapy is an option. ‘For many women it can transform their lives,’ says Dr Newson. ‘Often, once a woman receives the right dose and type of HRT, menopausal symptoms disappear and energy levels improve.’
Don’t Suffer In Silence
Menopause is a natural process, but the low hormone levels that occur may result in an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis or dementia. ‘It is therefore really important that we consider ways of reducing future risk and keeping as healthy as possible,’ says Dr Newson.
Move Your Body
Do whatever feels good and works for you.
Make Some Changes
During the menopause, women often find they can’t eat or drink as they used to, says Dr Newson. You can use the Balance app (balance-app.com) to record your menopausal symptoms, track changes and tweak your sleep, nutrition and exercise.
Laura Williams, fitness coach
‘Exercise certainly affects my own energy levels. Rather than feeling depleted after a session, I’m ready to face the day. But I still have to force myself to do it. I’m often tired before, but the boost in blood flow and increase in optimism, clarity and productivity makes it worthwhile. As a self-confessed former couch potato, I’d rather be doing anything other than exercising, but I’ve learned that once you have the habit, the rewards are vast.’
Your Action Plan
Swerve The Slump
Get your workout out of the way and beat afternoon energy lulls with a walk. ‘At 4.30pm I always fancy a bar of chocolate and a snooze. I may indulge in the former, but I avoid the latter by heading out,’ says Laura.
Mix It Up
Any sport or exercise that gets the heart thumping usually raises energy. ‘I’m a fan of moderate-to-low intensity cardio as you reap the benefits without impact to muscles and nervous system,’ she says.
Is It Laziness?
Learn to distinguish inertia from exhaustion. ‘Start working out and give it 10 minutes. If it’s lethargy, you’ll perk up. If you’re physically too tired, you just can’t power through.’
Clarissa Lenherr, Nutritionist
‘When my breakfast contains significant amounts of sugar, or if I snack on sweet things, my energy levels peak and trough. But if I eat well-balanced meals, I have consistent amounts of energy. I also notice that if I over-eat at meal times then I can feel sluggish. I aim for a palm-sized portion of protein, a cupped hand of complex carbs, a thumb-sized serving of fat and lots of veg. This keeps me full and satiated.’
Eat Your Way To Vitality
Biscuits or cake can mean waving goodbye to your energy levels. ‘If I need an afternoon pick-me-up, I have a spicy ginger and turmeric tea, berries, or a few squares of 70% dark chocolate, which has small amount of caffeine, a touch of sweetness without the sugar crash, and a good source of antioxidants.
When we are dehydrated, many of the systems in our body begin to slow, including our energy output. Cognitive and physical performance will be affected and can lead to feelings of lethargy.
Energy Boosting Foods
Chickpeas full of fibre and protein Avocados a ‘healthy fat’ packed with nutrients Quinoa a source of protein and slow releasing carbohydrate. Almonds have energy producing B vitamins and magnesium.
Avoid The Crash
Food that are high in sugar, provide a quick, short, energy spurt, which leads to a slump. ‘Try pairing your sweet food with protein and/or fats,’ suggests Clarissa. ‘These macronutrients help to slow the release of the sugars, while giving you a consistent release of energy’
Arez You Deficient?
If you’re lacking in Vitamin D,B vitamins, iron or magnesium, you may you have low energy no matter how well you eat. ‘Many of these can be missed out on in a vegan or vegetarian diet, or if you have a low intake of animal foods,’ says Clarissa. ‘Try a boosting micronutrient mix such as Bioniq Immune, either with water, on yogurt, or in a smoothie twice a day.’ (£59, bioniq.com).