Jul 2 2015
We’re definitely a nation on the go, but the average person also is prone to afternoon doldrums, lethargy after meals, or general fatigue throughout the day. But instead of trying to just soldier through it or slamming a coffee or sugary drink, which can actually make you more tired in the long run, it’s important to understand the medical causes of energy lulls, and respond with healthy, natural habits to boost your energy back up.
- The medications you’re taking.
Many of the medications we take on a daily basis can cause pronounced levels of fatigue. Antihistamines (allergy meds), cough medicine, anti depressants, and heart, blood pressure, and heart meds may zap your energy.
- Iron deficiency.
A shortage of iron in the body can cause fatigue, and even anemia. Though it’s more common in women than men, iron-deficiency anemia can still affect anyone who partakes in a vegetaraina diet, frequently donates blood, or has low levels of B12 vitamins. The result can be extreme fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, headaches, and dizziness.
- Low testosterone.
As men age, they gradually produce less testosterone, which naturally promotes bone density, muscle mass, sex drive, and other functions. But a pronounced drop in testosterone can result in complete loss of sexual appetite, increased body fat, trouble sleeping, and decreased motivation along with low energy
- Thyroid problems.
Hypothyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, is caused by low levels of thyroid hormone, which will seriously deplete energy levels. With certain autoimmune diseases, the immune system basically attacks the thyroid, which causes a racing heart and overworked system. It’s more common in women but can occur in men.
Of course if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before you will be tired the next day, but we’re talking about sleep disorders or prolonged patterns that will sap your energy and leave you perpetually tired. For instance, insomnia will wreak havoc with your cycles of rest, as will sleep-disordered breathing, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
Depression is a psychological condition that affects tens of millions of Americans every year, but it also causes physical manifestations, as there is little difference between an external stimuli and an emotional response in the body. Therefore, depression can leave someone feeling woefully unmotivated, tired, and at a loss for energy.
- Too much caffeine.
Trying to mask a regular pattern of low energy with coffee and energy drinks creates a dangerous vicious cycle that won’t address the root problem – and leave you even more tired when it wears off.
- Too much alcohol.
Regular drinking and consuming alcohol in excess – especially at night before bed – might help you drift off to sleep more quickly, but you’ll get a restless, shallow sleep and your body will be over tired, dehydrated, and possibly a little hungover the next morning, draining your energy.
- Not enough exercise.
A lack of regular exercise or sedentary lifestyle, like sitting at a desk all day only to go to the couch in the evening and then the bed at night, will leave your body running inefficiently, and you fatigued and unmotivated, as well as more stressed and sleeping worse.
- A poor diet.
Eating too much or just the wrong kinds of foods – like too much sugar, fat, and processed food, will definitely leave you feeling listless and short on zip throughout the day.
Other than addressing those common problems, here are 8 healthy tips to increase your energy level:
1. Try an energy-boosting snack.
A snack containing protein and a complex carbohydrate, like a whole-grain cracker and low-fat cheese, or peanut butter on whole-wheat bread, will boost your blood sugar in a prolonged way.
2. Make sure you eat a proper breakfast.
Eating a breakfast that’s high in fiber and also carbohydrates will give you a foundation of energy through the day. A high-fiber cereal or whole wheat toast will do the trick.
3. Take a mental break.
Too often, we think that multi-tasking at home or at work will make us more productive, but all it does is scatter our concentration and fatigue our brain. So if you feel your energy waning during an important task, step away for 5 or 10 minutes for a mental break, and you’ll be refreshed and energized when you get back to it.
4. Get up and move.
Taking a brisk walk around the block or doing some quick calistenthics will get your blood pumping and oxygen to the brain, which will increase your energy level almost immediately.
Conversely, sometimes we’re fatigued because our brains are so overloaded with information, anxiety, and stress. Even a few minutes of meditation and deep breathing, no matter where you are, will help immensely.
6. Increase your magnesium intake.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s used by your body for over 300 biochemical reactions, including breaking down glucose into energy. So if we don’t get enough magnesium, we’ll feel fatigued. You can increase your intake by eating almonds, cashews, whole grains, and fish like halibut.
7. Take a power nap.
Studies show that a quick cat nap of about 20-60 minutes reenergizes us and essentially “resets” our brain from the information overload we suffer during the day. But you probably don’t want to sleep longer than an hour or you’ll feel sluggish.
8. Drink more water.
Dehydration – whether it’s caused by a bad diet, poor sleep, or too much alcohol or caffeine – can send the signal to the body to preserve energy, making you feel fatigued. So if you feel tired, drink a few glasses of water.
9. Make that coffee a latte.
The milk in a low-fat latte actually offers an injection of protein with your caffeine, essentially turning your afternoon or morning java into an energy drink.
Long term fatigue can also be a symptom of more serious health issues, like liver failure, kidney failure, heart disease, cancer, pulmonary disease, diabetes, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Consult your doctor if you make the necessary adjustments to your health and lifestyle, but still don’t see an improvement. Chiropractic care, medial consultation, and adjustments will also help fend off some of these maladies, boosting energy levels naturally.