If you have been relying on caffeine and sugar to stay awake and energized, put down that energy shot or candy bar and try these healthy ways to replenish instead.
“There are ways to improve our energy without consuming large amounts of caffeine and sugar,” says Angel Ochoa, DO, a family medicine physician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center in Escondido. “Just a few simple lifestyle changes can help increase energy and prevent fatigue.”
1. Limit caffeine and sugar
While caffeine and sugar can both give you an immediate burst of energy, they are also fast burning fuels that can later lead to a “crash” in energy.
“Caffeine and sugar can give you an initial boost of energy, but it’s not sustainable,” notes Dr. Ochoa. “Your body will develop a tolerance if you regularly consume a lot of caffeine and sugar. After a while, you’ll need more of these to achieve the same effect.”
Dr. Ochoa recommends instead relying on a healthy diet rich in vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
“The better fuel you put into your body, the more energy you’ll have in the long run,” says Dr. Ochoa. “This will help prevent you from becoming fatigued in the first place and from relying on caffeine to keep you going.”
2. Get enough sleep
Balancing a busy work and home schedule can make it difficult to get enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have listed lack of sleep as a public health epidemic in the U.S. Chronically getting an insufficient amount of sleep can make you moody, confused and forgetful.
“Your body needs to rest after a long day. Getting the right amount of sleep is a huge part of living a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Ochoa. “Most people need between seven and nine hours per night of quality sleep. More or less than that can lead to fatigue and other health problems. The key is finding what’s right for you and keeping a consistent sleep schedule.”
3. Drink plenty of water
One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. Large quantities of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, soda or energy drinks can leave you dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water will immediately reduce the effects of minor dehydration and improve focus and energy.
4. Take a walk
“One of the best ways to beat some afternoon fatigue is to move around,” says Dr. Ochoa. “If you are sitting at a computer all day, the combination of sitting still and staring at a monitor can make you tired. It’s important to get up at regular intervals throughout the day and take a short walk. Even if it’s just around the building, the act of walking will increase your heart rate, improve blood flow and wake you up.”
5. Take a few deep breaths
Stopping to take a few deep breaths can increase the amount of oxygen to the brain, which can make you feel more alert. Deep breathing is also a great way to relieve stress, which can contribute to feelings of drowsiness. When fatigue hits, try sitting back from the computer, closing your eyes, and taking four or five slow, deep breaths.