Americans are working longer hours than ever, but sleeping less. According to a study that analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), work has been exchange for sleep. Out of the 124,000 people surveyed, those who slept six hours or less worked over an hour and a half more on weekdays and nearly two hours more on weekends and holidays. Work was the main activity that was subbed in, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
In a world where we’re inundated with non-stop smartphones buzzing and encouraged to be plugged in at all hours of the day, it’s not surprising that many of us are running with our tank on empty. It’s time to stop accepting being tired as the new state of being. Here are five essential areas we can improve upon to boost energy, all without increasing coffee intake.
I make sure all of my clients use the sleep function on their Fitbit devices to measure not just the length, but the stages of their sleep. Try to get at least seven hours of quality sleep each night. That means a mix of deep sleep, which should generally take up 10 to 20 percent of your sleep, REM sleep which should take up 20 to 25 percent, and light sleep, which should take up about 50 to 60 percent of your night.
Some of my go-to tips for stepping things up when it comes to sleep: no caffeine after noon, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, and use blackout curtains to make sure there’s no light peeping into your room in the early morning. I’ve also found that having a white noise sound machine has really helped me drown out any ambient sounds, allowing me to sleep deeper and longer.
Movement is the best medicine for lethargy and fatigue! Physical activity gets the blood pumping, and triggers a release of chemicals known as endorphins that can actually energize you. Exercise can also help boost sleep (reducing symptoms of anxiety) and concentration to leave you sharp throughout the day. I get all my clients to hit at least 12,000 steps a day, though 10,000 steps is a great goal, too. I encourage outdoor walks when possible. In addition to boosting your mood and clearing your mind more than indoor workouts, outdoor workouts can also up the calorie burn since you’re facing factors like wind resistance head on.
Our phones are exhausting us. Between all the alerts, screen time, and blue light, we’re tricking our brains into thinking it’s day when it’s night, disrupting sleep cycles by causing our brains to stop the production of melatonin, the hormone that cues our bodies for rest. Being tuned into technology doesn’t have to come at such a steep cost. First, I recommend turning the blue light mode off on your phone after 7pm. Apps such as “Twilight” can help neutralize blue light as the sun goes down. Next, put a limit on your daily screen time, aiming to spend half the time scrolling that you do now. Lastly, take a break and step away (or, better yet, turn off) all of your tech gear for at least one hour a day.
I tell all my clients to eat three meals and two snacks a day. Each meal should combine at least a hand size of lean protein, unlimited veggies, up to a palmful of whole grains or high-fiber fruit, and approximately a thumb size of healthy fat. Not sure where to start on your healthy-eating plan? Set yourself off on the right foot with this 7-day kickstart plan.
Many of us are in a constant state of dehydration, and this can lead to exhaustion. I tell all my clients to down an electrolyte beverage when they get to my gym. Electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and chloride are lost through sweat, so replenishing them after a particularly sweaty workout in the gym or on the track makes sense. Be careful of sports drinks that are loaded with excess sugar—it’s the water and the sodium you need, not the added sugars! Then, I encourage my clients to continue to drink at least 2 liters of water throughout the day to maintain their hydration.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.