Take small sips of coffee throughout the day
Did you down a triple shot of espresso this morning just to get yourself moving? You may be actually driving yourself deeper into a low-energy rut. Research from Harvard Medical School finds that frequent low doses of caffeine—the amount in 1/4 cup of coffee—taken throughout the day were more effective at keeping people alert than fewer larger doses.
Lighten your glycemic load
Foods with a low glycemic load—like beans, bran cereal, barley, nuts, and yogurt—have less impact on your blood sugar than high-glycemic foods—like white rice, spaghetti, potatoes, cornflakes, baked goods, and sugary juices and drinks. Eating more low-glycemic foods will help keep your blood sugar steady and avoid the lightheadedness and “shakes” that happen when blood sugar falls.
Slip in some strides
Sneak in a brisk, 10-minute walk when you’re feeling sluggish. Often, people with fatigue have a decreased supply of adenosine diphosphate (ADP), an intracellular “messenger” involved in energy metabolism. Translation: There’s not enough “spark” in the engine. Jump-start it with a brief jaunt.
As you stride, focus on what you feel most thankful for. “This simple technique combines the power of gratefulness with the positive effects of walking and exercise, flooding your brain with happy neurotransmitters and endorphins,” says Jon Gordon, energy coach and author of Become an Energy Addict. “It’s a simple yet powerful exercise that energizes the mind and body.”
Chug two glasses of ice water
Fatigue is often one of the first symptoms of dehydration, and if the only thing you’ve sipped all day is coffee and soft drinks, you’re likely dehydrated. The refreshing coldness will also serve as a virtual slap in the face.
Try Siberian ginseng
This herbal remedy stimulates your nervous system and helps to protect your body from the ravages of stress. Look for a supplement containing at least 4 percent ginsenosides, and take two 100 mg capsules daily. Caveat: Don’t take ginseng if you have high blood pressure.
Have your thyroid checked
If you’re not producing enough thyroid hormone, that could make you feel tired and run-down. A simple blood test will tell. Other symptoms of low thyroid are dry skin, weight gain, constipation, and feeling cold.
Turn in 15 minutes early
Every week, continue to go to bed an additional 15 minutes earlier until you find the right amount of sleep for your body. You’ll know you’ve had enough sleep when you wake up feeling refreshed.
Have a bowl of 100% bran cereal for breakfast
Bran is high in phosphorous, a mineral the body needs to metabolize carbohydrates, fat, and protein so they can be used as energy.
Eat every four hours
It’s much better to continually refuel your body before it hits empty than to wait until you’re in the danger zone and then overdo it. So when you’re awake, have a mini-meal or snack every four hours. That might be a bowl of whole-grain cereal, or a handful of roasted peanuts, a hard-boiled egg, or slice of lean meat and a sliced apple.
Put yourself on a sleep schedule
Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, no matter how little sleep you get the night before. By forcing your body to adhere to the pattern, you’ll fall asleep faster when your head hits the pillow. Give it a few weeks to work.
Get screened for depression
Feeling tired regardless of how much you’re sleeping is a major symptom of depression. Answer the following two questions, which studies find are as good as longer screenings at predicting depression: 1) Over the past two weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless? 2) Over the past two weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things? If you answer yes to these questions, see your doctor for a more complete evaluation.
Replace your pillow
More restful, reinvigorating sleep may be within your reach—if you upgrade your pillow. Wake up in the morning with a sore neck? Opt for a soft, thinner pillow or a special “neck pillow.” In one Swedish study, a neck pillow enhanced sleep. These pillows come in different shapes: Some are rolls, others are rectangular with a depression in the middle.
Supplement with roseroot
Rhodiola rosea L., also called roseroot, can help you better manage stress and beat fatigue. Doses of 200 to 600 mg a day are typical, but check with your doctor first about possible interactions with your other medications.
Breathe in energy
Sit in a chair with a straight back, place your hands over your stomach, and breathe into your belly so that your hands rise and fall with your breath. Imagine you’re inhaling a white light that fills your body with vital energy. Do this for five full breaths. Then, as you inhale, tighten the muscles that connect your shoulders and neck, pulling your shoulders up toward your ears. “When your shoulders are snug around your ears, hold your breath for just a second,” says Karl D. La Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker. “Then exhale as you release the tension and your breath in one big whoosh—as though you’re releasing the weight of the world from your shoulders. Repeat until you feel refreshed and revitalized.”
Take a multivitamin
Research at the University of California at Berkeley found that the amino acid L-carnitine and the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid boost both memory and energy, possibly by improving the way body cells produce energy. One of the authors of the study said you can consume the right amount of both nutrients by taking a daily multivitamin and eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies.
Lie on your back and use pillows to prop up your feet so they’re higher than your head or, better yet, lie on an adjustable exercise bench or other surface that slants. In India, yogis do this to encourage blood flow to the brain, which is thought to fight fatigue and boost alertness.