You’re not alone if you feel sluggish, have difficulty staying awake, or chugging multiple cups of coffee just to make it to lunchtime.
Most of us are familiar with feeling worn out and weary at the end of the day.
Fortunately, you can take plenty of healthy actions to reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels.
Making small changes to your daily routine can significantly affect how energetic you feel and many other aspects of your health.
Here are nine simple strategies to increase your energy levels naturally.
1. Get more sleep
Many people cut into hours that should be spent in bed, such as pushing back bedtime to meet a deadline or study for an exam.
Not getting enough sleep can drain your energy levels, leaving you feeling lethargic, grumpy, and tired the next day.
Although the amount of sleep a person needs can vary slightly, experts recommend aiming for at least 7 hours per night to boost energy levels and support overall health.
If you have trouble sleeping, you may benefit from setting a regular sleep schedule and winding down at the end of the night by taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music.
Some research also suggests that limiting your use of electronic devices, like your phone, laptop, or television, before bed could also help increase sleep quality and prevent daytime sleepiness.
Summary: If you often feel tired throughout the day, you may need more quality sleep. Try going to bed earlier and reducing screen time before bed.
2. Reduce stress
It’s common for people with busy lives to feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.
Not only can stress take a serious toll on your physical and mental health, but it has also been closely linked to tiredness and fatigue.
Consider what is frequently causing you to feel stressed or drained and ask yourself whether you can remove it from your life. If that’s not possible or desirable, then what actions can you take to reduce your stress about that thing over the long term?
Potential causes of stress include:
- the pressure that comes with everyday responsibilities at work, school, or home
- sudden stressful life changes, like losing your job, going through a breakup, or dealing with the death of a loved one
- having experienced trauma, such as from a car accident
In many cases, it may not be possible to remove sources of stress from your life completely. However, if you can reduce your stress levels, it could help bump up your energy.
Strategies to increase your energy levels at the moment include taking some time for yourself to relax, read, or go for a walk. You could also try mindfulness or meditation techniques, which may reduce anxiety.
However, it’s important to note that if you feel very stressed and your anxiety is severe, it may be beneficial to talk with a mental healthcare professional for additional support. Read this article for more information on finding mental health care.
Summary: High-stress levels can make you feel drained. Finding ways to minimize lifestyle-related stress can help keep up your energy levels.
3. Move more
Regular exercise reduces your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Moreover, some research suggests that adding more physical activity to your routine could also fight fatigue and increase your energy levels.
According to one small study, university students who participated in a low-intensity running program three times per week for six weeks experienced significant improvements in fatigue and sleep quality compared with a control group.
Another study in employees with high levels of work-related fatigue showed that participating in a 6-week exercise program improved the following factors:
- emotional exhaustion
- overall fatigue
- sleep quality
- cognitive function
To incorporate exercise into your day, try getting away from your desk and going for a walk on your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to work or school instead of driving.
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Summary: If you live a sedentary lifestyle and feel low on energy, participating in regular exercises, like walking, running, or cycling, can boost your energy levels.
4. If you smoke, consider quitting
Smoking can negatively affect multiple health aspects and increase the risk of numerous chronic conditions.
What’s more, the toxins and tar in the smoke reduce the efficiency of your lungs. Over time, this can reduce the amount of oxygen transported throughout your body, making you feel tired.
If you regularly smoke, quitting may be associated with many health benefits, including increased energy levels.
Some people find it helpful to switch cigarettes for a nicotine replacement, like gum, patches, or lozenges.
However, once you’ve decided to quit, it’s best to reach out to a healthcare professional, like a family doctor. They can point you toward the support services that will suit you best.
Summary: Smoking can reduce the efficiency of your lungs and make you feel tired. Quitting smoking is great for both your energy levels and your overall health.
5. Limit alcohol
Drinking alcohol can have a sedative effect and may make you feel drowsy and relaxed.
Many people mistakenly believe that drinking an alcoholic beverage (or “nightcap”) can be an effective way to fall asleep faster. However, regularly drinking alcohol before bed can reduce the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol can also act as a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production. Therefore, having a few drinks right before bed could interrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night.
For this reason, it’s best to enjoy alcohol in moderation and limit your intake close to bedtime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderation as one drink per day for women and two per day for men.
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If you have a hard time limiting your intake of alcohol or would like additional support, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional for more guidance. This article also provides detailed tips and resources.
Summary: Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it can also interfere with the quality of your sleep. If you drink regularly, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume could help increase your energy levels.
6. Eat a nutritious diet
Switching up your eating habits could be beneficial if you’re always tired, sluggish, and low in energy.
Following a well-rounded diet can reduce your risk of several chronic conditions and significantly affect your energy levels.
Choosing whole, nutritious foods can give your body the vitamins and minerals to function at its best. On the other hand, eating lots of processed foods high in sugar and fat can negatively affect your energy levels and overall health.
Additionally, some studies show that skipping meals may be linked to fatigue, anxiety, and poor attention.
Eating enough food to fuel yourself during the day is also important.
This is because severe dietary restrictions can result in a lack of calories and essential nutrients, such as iron, which could affect your energy levels.
Summary: Following a healthy diet can benefit your health and energy levels. Eating regularly and ensuring that you’re eating enough can also help boost energy levels.
7. Limit added sugar
When you feel tired, it can be easy to reach for a sweet, sugar-filled snack. However, although sugar can give you a short-term energy boost, it also wears off very quickly and can leave you feeling more tired than before.
This is because high sugar foods cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash as the body releases a large amount of insulin to transport sugar from the bloodstream to the cells.
Interestingly, one study showed that people reported experiencing 26% more fatigued when they followed a diet high in refined carbs and added sugar than when they consumed a diet filled with whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Eating large amounts of added sugar may also increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, so limiting your added sugar intake can benefit your energy levels and your health.
If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your energy levels more stable and reducing fatigue, try trading foods high in added sugar for:
- fresh berries
- dried fruit
- trail mix
Summary: Eating foods high in sugar may lead to chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Consider minimizing your intake and focusing on eating whole foods instead.
8. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is incredibly important for several aspects of health.
In particular, dehydration can greatly affect your brain function, mood, energy levels, and more.
For example, one small study found that acute dehydration significantly increased the perception of fatigue and impaired muscular performance in athletes.
Generally, try drinking water whenever you feel thirsty to stay hydrated. You might also need to increase your intake if you’re very active or live in a hot climate.
Additionally, remember that older adults may not always feel thirsty when they need water. As such, they may need to drink more throughout the day to stay hydrated consciously.
Summary: Dehydration can make you feel tired. Make a conscious effort to drink enough water throughout the day and respond to your thirst, especially during exercise and if you’re older.
9. Connect with people
Social connections are incredibly important for maintaining good health.
Social isolation can cause low mood and tiredness, especially as you age.
Some research even indicates that stronger social support could be associated with physical and mental health improvements as you age.
If you feel tired and in low spirits, it can be helpful to try socializing with friends, joining a club or class, volunteering, or finding a new hobby that gets you out and about.
Summary: Getting out of the house and mingling with other people is beneficial for your energy levels and health. Try organizing social activities with your friends, volunteering, or starting a new activity by joining a club or class.
Many people feel tired and lack the energy to function at their best throughout the day.
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However, drinking enough water, following a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and being sociable can benefit your energy levels and overall health.
If you feel tired, it’s worth looking at your lifestyle to see which healthy changes you can make to boost your energy levels and help you feel your best.
Try this today:
If you’ve tried the tips listed above and still feel tired, other factors may contribute to your fatigue. Reach out to a trusted healthcare professional for additional guidance and advice to help increase your energy levels.