Do you ever wake up in the morning and feel as though you hadn’t slept at all? Do you wake up at 2 AM or 3 AM and lie awake, unable to go back to sleep because you’re trying to solve the world’s problems? I know I have…many times! And I’m not alone. So many of my sisters write to me asking, “Why am I always so tired even after sleeping 8 hours a night?” or “What can I do to stop feeling exhausted by the middle of the day?” or “Why do I wake up in the middle of the night and feel so stressed I can’t fall back asleep?”
I hear you. For the longest time, I was tired of being tired. It reached the point where I was beginning to just accept that when I woke up in the morning, I would not feel rested. And if I wasn’t tired first thing in the morning, I would at some point in the day.
But was this the way I wanted to live my life? Is it how you want to live yours? So what can we do about it?
To begin with, it’s important to recognize there are a multitude of factors that are behind our feeling tired all the time, despite our best efforts. So the first thing I want you to do is, stop blaming yourself! Immediately after you do that, make a promise to yourself to adopt steps that will help take care of YOU!
Are you ready to start feeling more energized?
I searched the experts for clues on how to kick up my energy, experimented on my own, and feel these are some of the best ones to start with. They are working for me—let me know what you think once you try them?
Change your sleep preparation habits. You have probably heard that adopting healthful sleep habits can improve quality of your sleep, and that’s true.
Going to bed and rising at the same times every night and morning
Ensuring your sleep environment is comfortable in terms of bedding and temperature
Avoiding exercise at least three hours before retiring
Practicing something relaxing before going to bed, such as taking a warm bath, having a cup of chamomile tea, writing in your gratitude journal, or meditating
All of these tips are helpful.
But the one sleep preparation guideline most people ignore is maintaining their circadian rhythm.
Circadian rhythm is sometimes called your body clock. It is the 24-hour cycle that tells your body when to get up, when to go to bed, when to eat, when to release hormones, and many other processes. This clock is significantly impacted by your environment, especially the type and amount of light you are exposed to and temperature.
Basically, your internal clock determines how much energy you have during the day—whether you will feel wide awake and full of energy or tired and listless.
Our ancestors paid attention to their internal clock and followed the earth’s natural rhythms: they got up near sunrise and retired near sundown. For tens of thousands of years, they lived as so.
However, in recent decades, we have extended the amount of time we spend in artificial light at night. More important is the amount of blue light we take in from electronic devices, such as laptops, TVs, and smartphones. This blue light interferes with the production of our sleep hormone called melatonin.
So what should you do?
Banish the blue.
Say good night to all of your electronic devices at least one hour—and preferably two or three—before you retire for the night. In fact, banish them to another room. Your bedroom should be blue-free during the night.
Ideally, you should sleep in complete darkness. For reasons of safety, you may need to have a nightlight in or near your bed. Use a red or amber light for this purpose, as these light waves don’t affect melatonin production.
Modify your diet. Are you eating foods with added sugars, processed foods, gluten, dairy, alcohol, soy or caffeine? These are energy thieves! Focus instead of all-natural, whole foods, and choose organic whenever possible. Healthy foods fuel the mitochondria (the energy centers) in your cells so they can produce sufficient energy; unhealthy foods rob you of your vitality. Some great tasting additions to this way of eating are my recipes for tea infusions and smoothies.
Allow some stress. Here’s what true about stress. Not all stress is bad. In fact, deliberately exposing oneself to low doses of something that is otherwise toxic when given at higher doses as a way to increase energy, strength, and resilience. In this case, we are talking about stress.
When I was dealing with my husband’s illness and my mother’s hospitalization at the same time, along with taking care of my kids and my business, the stress left me exhausted. This was toxic stress.
Non-toxic, short-term stress, however, is different. Deliberately allowing some types of stress in your life can boost your energy. One example of such non-toxic stress that I practice is intermittent fasting, which I explain here. Basically, I place my body slightly out of its comfort zone for a short time, once or twice a week, and this actually increases my energy! It is a practice I strongly recommend.
Practice self-care. A word of advice: don’t wait until the stress in your life is so great, you are panicking to find ways to reduce it. One of the best ways that I’ve found is to practice daily self-care. Each little self-care activity is like a small morsel of chocolate: sweet, welcome, and feels so good! Here are some of my favorite self-care routines:
Start your day with lemon juice and water to help detox and boost energy
Engage in physical exercise at least every other day for 20 to 30 minutes
Stay well hydrated. Allowing your fluid levels to drop is a sure way to feel tired! Sip water throughout the day
Practice meditation daily—it can lower cortisol levels, promote calm, and invigorate you. A mere 15 minutes can do wonders!
Write in your gratitude journal. Journaling and expressing gratitude are great ways to lower cortisol levels
Address adrenal fatigue. One often overlooked reason for feeling tired all the time is adrenal fatigue. That’s because some doctors insist it does not exist! Yet we often expose ourselves to chronic, unmanaged stress, at work, at home, and with our families. This unmanaged assault on the body causes high levels of the stress hormone called cortisol. When that happens, fatigue typically sets in. At one point, I was so overcome by adrenal fatigue I would nearly fall asleep at the wheel while driving my kids to school! That’s scary!
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take beginning right now to ease adrenal fatigue. I know, because I practice them and they work! Check them out and let me know what you think!
While you do, kick back and enjoy rooibos tea, a caffeine-free, antioxidant-rich beverage that supports adrenal function. You need:
1 tsp to 1 Tbs dried rooibos in a tea infuser, depending on how strong you want your tea
8 oz boiling water
Pour the boiling water over the tea and allow it to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Add a touch of raw honey if desired. Enjoy two to three cups daily.
Check for medical reasons. Many medical conditions have fatigue as a symptom. You should talk with your doctor about those possibilities, such as anemia, type 2 diabetes, hepatitis, heart disease, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and sleep apnea. A simple blood test can help detect most of these conditions.
Review your medication use. Many of the most commonly prescribed medications have fatigue as a possible side effect. These include some drugs taken for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux anxiety, allergies, depression, bacterial infections, and chronic pain. Talk with your doctor; you may be able to switch to an alternative medication.
Are you ready?
Are you psyched to take the steps to boost your energy and feel more vitality? Although there are more tips I could share, I don’t want to overwhelm you with options. All of the ones I’ve talked about represent a great start, and I can vouch that they are working for me. So, my sisters, will you join me in chasing “I’m tired” from your vocabulary?
Wishing you all much love and health,