About ⅓ of all teens, adults, and older individuals in the U.S. deal with feeling sleepy or fatigued regularly. There are many reasons, ranging from underlying medical conditions to daily habits.
If you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee or energy drink every afternoon, or you just feel lethargic and tired by the end of the day, you’re not alone. But, if you’re otherwise healthy, you might also wonder why you feel so tired and don’t have much energy.
It could have something to do with your diet and sleeping habits.
Today’s busy world doesn’t automatically mean you have to deal with constant fatigue. By making some lifestyle changes, especially to your nutrition and sleep health, you can improve your energy levels and feel more well-rested.
Let’s address some changes you can make, and why it’s so important to look at your daily habits when you’re feeling fatigued.
The Underlying Connection
It’s easy to see why your energy levels might be affected by what you eat and how much sleep you get. But, did you know that your sleeping habits and dietary habits can also impact each other?
What you eat can affect how well you sleep and the duration of your sleep. For example, eating foods that are high in caffeine or sugar before bed can make it harder to stay asleep. Nutritional deficiencies can also result in poor sleep quality, especially if you’re lacking:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Of course, if you’re lacking those key nutrients, your body probably isn’t getting what it needs to feel energized and alert throughout the day, either. It’s all cyclical – if your nutrition isn’t up to par, you won’t sleep as well. If you don’t sleep well, you’re going to feel tired during the day. As a result, you might reach for comfort foods that are higher in fat and calories.
See a pattern?
With that in mind, we can cover different tips and habits you can use each day to improve your sleep health, boost your nutrition, and experience higher energy levels.
Getting More Sleep
If you struggle to get a restful night’s sleep, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 adults don’t get the sleep they need. Everything from stress to the environment you’re in can impact your sleep health, but it really is important to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night if you want to feel energized throughout the day.
If that sounds easier said than done, it might be time to take a look at your habits surrounding sleep and make a few switches.
One of the best things you can do is to create a sleep schedule or nighttime routine. Try going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Two hours before bed, stop looking at any digital devices like your phone or tablet. These give off a “blue light” that can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
Your nighttime routine can include anything that relaxes you, including reading a book, journaling, or even practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety and boost both your mental and physical health. Consider using a mindfulness app to get you started with the basics. Guided meditation is a great way to learn how to be more mindful and to fully relax before bed.
Eating For Energy
At its very core, food is nothing more than fuel for your body. When you think of it that way, it’s easier to want to eat healthy, clean ingredients that will allow you to perform at your peak.
Unfortunately, we don’t always do that. It’s often easier to reach for a candy bar than a carrot stick. That might give you a quick “sugar high,” but usually comes with a crash shortly after that will leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
Snacking throughout the day can keep your energy levels up because you’re giving yourself more fuel. But, it’s important to choose the right snacks. Think of filling up your car at the gas station. You’ll end up with the best performance from your vehicle when you use premium gasoline. The same goes for what you put in your body. Some of the best snacks for a quick energy boost without the crash are:
- Almond butter
- Dark chocolate (in moderation!)
In addition to what you eat, be mindful of how you eat. Most of us are on the go more often than not, so we reach for something easy to eat with one hand or settle for convenience food.
Instead, set aside time to enjoy whatever you’re eating. If it’s a piece of chocolate, close your eyes and let it melt in your mouth, savoring the flavors. If it’s an avocado, relish in the creamy texture and any seasonings you dress it with. When you’re mindful with your eating, you’ll learn to appreciate food more. You’ll also eat slower, reducing your risk of over-eating and feeling weighed down and fatigued.
As you can see, a few habitual changes can make a big difference in your energy levels. Put these ideas into practice, and it won’t take long for them to become a part of your routine. As you start to see your energy increase, you may be likely to make even more healthy choices along the way.