All Day Sustainable Energy
Look, everybody’s all the same. We all just get to the point of the day where we feel depleted. Empty. No energy whatsoever. And guess what, it happens at roughly the same exact time for all of us.
How can we be so sure?
Well, like we said, it happens to all of us. I mean yeah, there are some exceptions, like Kelly Ripa, but for the most part it’s a problem that we all face. It’s really almost like clockwork, which is actually a reasonable comparison, since your body’s internal clock is much to blame. When that clock gets all screwy, you feel tired out and completely drained of energy.
Of course, other issues are to blame here. And this is what this article is going to focus on. On top of that, we’ll give fast and easy solutions to these problems, or even simple ways to sidestep the problems.
Fast & Easy All Day Energy Solutions
Since you found this helpful article, think of your energy woes as nothing more than a distant memory.
The Clock Strikes 7 and it is Definitely Not Heaven
It only makes sense that after a nice and refreshing 8 hours of sleep, you’d be ready and raring to go when you wake up, right?
Well, not really. You probably actually feel more like crap than you did before you went to sleep the night before. Why is this the case? Well, it’s because of a nice little thing known as “sleep inertia”.
What does this entail?
What happens is that when you wake up, the thalamus and brain stem, the parts of your brain that are tasked with managing your consciousness, start firing on all cylinders. However, the prefrontal cortex is lagging behind and is much like a car on a cold snowy morning. The motor needs time to warm up before it can start running smoothly.
This is why you feel slow and tired in the morning instead of up and at it. Why does it matter that the prefrontal cortex is lagging behind? What does it do? Well, that part of the brain is responsible for dealing with problem solving and complex thinking…
That’s why it’s highly important.
According to Kenneth Wright, Ph.D., “Sleep inertia can last for up to 2 hours, although it's most severe within the first 10 minutes of waking.” Wright is an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado. He and his fellow scientists and researchers recently did a study where they found out just how severe that sleep inertia can be.
The study concluded that the mental slowdown that sleep inertia causes is similar to the slowdown caused by excessive alcohol consumption. On top of the effects of sleep inertia, your body is also pretty low on actual energy, due to the fact that you haven’t eaten in the past 8 or more hours. Caroline Mahoney, Ph.D. states that, “Your brain needs a continuous supply of glucose to function optimally.” Mahoney works at the U.S. Army Soldier Center as a research psychologist.
This is why they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You have to get the motor running to begin the day or else you’ll stand no chance for the rest of the day. A good breakfast meal would be instant oatmeal with skim milk. This is backed up by science as well, thanks to a new study conducted by researchers at Tufts University.
The researchers discovered that those who eat one pouch of skim milk-infused instant oatmeal will get a consistent flow of glucose. This glucose flow makes people more alert and pretty much sped up the formerly gummed up works of the prefrontal cortex. Coffee is also a huge addition to the morning routine. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania indicated that a single serving of a caffeinated beverage can help you fight off the effects of sleep inertia.
However, you don’t want to just have a morning coffee and call it a meal. According to Dan Benardot, Ph.D., R.D., “It will mask your low blood sugar by temporarily stimulating your brain.” Dr. Benardot works at Georgia State University as an associate professor of nutrition. He continues, “But you won't have done anything to satisfy the need for energy.” Basically, you’ll feel energized and alert, but you’re just fooling your brain instead of actually energizing yourself.
The Clock Strikes 1 and You’re Feeling Done
Don’t be embarrassed to admit it – your lunch most likely consists of a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods. It’s okay, most of our lunches are like that. But, that’s the root of the midday meltdown that makes you feel exhausted around 1 PM. Why? Well, a meal with a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods lead to a spike in insulin levels which results in a major drop in your focus and concentration.
In fact, Dr. Benardot states that,
“A high insulin response will rapidly take too much sugar out of your blood. Then your brain doesn't have enough of its primary fuel, so you become mentally fatigued.”
Stingy about your meal? At least include fiber. If you’re unwilling to part with your scrumptious carb-heavy lunch foods, at least add some fiber to your lunch. According to Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., the excess fiber will slow down the digestion process and also slow down the disbursement of insulin.
Thus, you won’t crash as fast, or you might not even crash at all. Take for instance if your lunch is a baked potato. Don’t peel the skin off and throw it away. That skin is a great source of fiber and will do you more favors if you eat it than it will do if you toss it in the garbage. The skin contains a high amount of a specific type of fiber known as pectin. According to Dr. Kleiner, “Pectin slows everything down in the gastrointestinal tract.”
“When food passes more slowly through the intestines, absorption into the bloodstream proceeds in a more timed-release fashion.” It’s alright if you can’t resist temptation. Just be sure to eat a fruit like an apple or some grapes following your unhealthy lunch. Dr. Benardot says that either of those fruits will assist in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level and white-out the effects of the lunch.
The Clock Strikes 3 and You’re Wondering, “What Happened to Me?”
Inside of your body, there’s a war waging. On one side, your body’s internal clock (circadian clock) is fighting the noble fight to keep you up and alert. On the other side, your homeostatic is fighting to put you to sleep.
From 2 PM to 4 PM, the homeostatic system turns the tide of the war on your body’s internal clock, which leads to this afternoon slump. Wright states that, “We think the afternoon dip in alertness occurs because the drive from the circadian clock to stay awake is not yet strong enough to cancel out the sleep drive caused by having been awake for half the day.”
Soak in some much needed sun. It sounds far-fetched, but the rays of light from the sun will give your circadian clock a highly needed jolt to help it overcome the fatigue that will be tried to be forced on you by your homeostatic system in the afternoon.
Just make sure the time is right to soak in the sun’s rays. What time is right, though? Well, according to Michael Terman, Ph.D., “The key is adequate exposure to sunlight very quickly after you wake up in the morning.” Terman works at the medical center at Columbia University as a professor of clinical psychology. “As you move into the middle of the day, the same amount of light exposure doesn't affect the circadian clock at all.”
Having said that, you should still get outside and soak in some sun in the afternoon as well. In fact, researchers across the pond in Britain discovered that people were less likely to feel tired if they worked out at some point during the workday. That decrease in fatigue led to a 15% increase in job performance.
The Clock Strikes 6 and You Really Need a Fix (of energy)
Exercising around this time leaves you with a real dilemma. You’re aware that exercising now will give you a boost in energy that you need, but the problem is that you don’t have the energy in the first place to even work out. For most people, this dilemma is caused by a lack of food intake before the workout. Kleiner states that, “If you're going into a workout when you haven't eaten since lunch, your blood sugar will be low again.”
Grab a bite before you start lifting weights. Insert a 5 to 10 minute period in your schedule about a half hour before your workout block to eat a small snack. Kleiner describes the type of snack you want to shoot for as one that contains up to 250 calories and has a range of 25 to 35 grams of carbohydrates, along with 10 to 15 grams of protein and a maximum of 5 grams of fat.
An example of a snack that would be ideal for this would be a small amount of pretzels with a couple slices of cheese. Or, you could eat a Myoplex Lite bar.
After that, replenish your electrolytes with the OG of energy, Gatorade. Laura Dunne, M.D., who works in the Sports Medicine Institute at the Orthopaedic Associates of Allentown, says that, “It hasn't really been improved upon…The simple sugars will cause a fast spike in your blood-sugar level, so you'll have immediate energy.”
While doing this, you will also be preventing the onset of dehydration, which is another big culprit behind early evening fatigue. Dr. Dunne goes on to say that, “Often, that sluggish feeling has more to do with not having had enough fluid than with anything else.”
The Clock Strikes 8 and You’re Not Feeling So Great
Look, there isn’t any crazy reason why you’re feeling so tired and fatigued at this time. It’s pretty obvious – you’ve been on your feet all your day working your butt off.
But of course, 8 PM is still way too early to go to sleep and going to sleep this early can actually have a negative effect on your body’s internal clock and end up making you feel more tired in the morning.
In fact, Philip Gehrman, Ph.D., who works at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia as an assistant professor of psychology, says that,
“Going to bed a couple of hours earlier than you normally do will throw off your rhythms, while consistency can really help you feel alert during the day.”
Don’t get in a comfortable “sleeping” position. You definitely don’t want to lay out on your bed or chair because this will just make you even more tired and you might even end up falling asleep. This claim is supported by Dr. Wright, who states that, “Underlying sleepiness becomes more apparent when we put ourselves in sleep-conducive positions, such as lying down.”
Fire up the radio or MP3 player as opposed to watching your favorite nightly TV show. Why? Andrea Scheve, who is the director of the medical center’s music therapy program at the University of Pittsburgh explains that,
“To increase the perception of energy, listen to a piece of music that is upbeat and familiar, and use that song to get you going.”
“Even just thinking about it and hearing it in your mind can give you a boost of energy.” Now that you have the energy, what can you possibly do with it?
Well, do whatever you want. If you have a partner, this is probably the ideal time to crawl into bed to use up that newfound energy, if you catch my drift.
Turn Off the Lights
It’s really an ironic situation: All day you wage war against the impending feelings of fatigue. You seemingly win the war by following this guide only to crawl into bed and realize that you can’t fall asleep because you have so much excess energy now.
Luckily, scientists have given a rational explanation for why this happens. What kinds of activities do you partake in while in bed? Perhaps you read an interesting book, or watch a late night talk show. Regardless of what additional things you do in bed, it sends a false signal to your brain about the intentions of you lying in bed.
Dr. Kenneth Wright, Ph.D. says that, “These activities train the brain to associate the bed with excitement.” Wright works at the University of Colorado as an assistant professor of integrative physiology. He continues by stating,
“Some people become so sensitive to this that when they go to bed, all of a sudden their brain's aroused, because normally they're watching a basketball game or reading a favorite book.”
The solution to this problem? Simple. Un-train your brain. Don’t let it associate all of these fun things with lying in bed at night. Don’t read any books or watch any TV. And obviously don’t browse the internet on phone, tablet, or laptop either.
That said, having sex with your partner (if you have one) is permitted. There is no better way to spend all of that excess energy, after all.