Do you find yourself struggling to wake up in the mornings? Do you regularly struggle through an afternoon slump?
If you’re dragging throughout the day, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough sleep — after all, more than one-third of U.S. adults are sleep-deprived. The best thing to do when you’re regularly feeling tired is to improve your sleep schedule, but there are also at-home life hacks that can help you feel more awake, fast.
Try these seven strategies to help banish tiredness and boost your alertness levels.
1. Get Some Sunlight
There are a lot of energizing benefits to spending time in the great outdoors. Breathing in some fresh air may help improve your mood, boost your ability to concentrate, fight stress, banish symptoms of anxiety and depression, and increase brain activity.
2. Go on a Quick Walk
When you sit for long periods of time, less blood travels to your brain, which may affect your energy, focus, and mood. While you may worry that exercising will tire you out even more, physical activity can actually help.
Getting your body moving can increase the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to your head and encourage your tissues to start burning fuel, which may raise your energy levels. As an added benefit, a little extra exercise may help you sleep better at night, leaving you better rested the next day.
3. Chug Some Water
Even mild levels of dehydration can leave you feeling tired. Grab a glass of water or eat some water-filled foods like fruits or vegetables to make sure you’re fully hydrated and feeling your best. (Check out these tips to drink more water every day.)
4. Eat a Whole Grain, High-Fiber Snack
Tiredness is often caused by not eating enough — or not often enough. More calories or additional snacks may help raise your energy levels.
Your body uses carbohydrates as an energy source, but not all carbs are created equal. Sugars, also called simple carbohydrates, are used up quickly by your body. While you might feel a short burst of energy after eating these foods, you’ll soon crash. When you’re feeling exhausted, it’s better to reach for complex carbohydrates and fiber. These types of carbohydrates give longer-lasting energy that will keep you going all afternoon.
When you need a pick-me-up, reach for healthy snack foods like apples, whole grain crackers, or hummus. Be careful of foods like protein bars that pack a punch of protein and fiber — they’re often loaded with simple sugars. Check the nutrition label, or better yet, stick to less processed natural foods.
5. Take a Weight off Your Shoulders
Stress can majorly sap your energy. Try lowering your stress levels by venting to a friend or finding a way to delegate some of the tasks on your to-do list. Additionally, some research has found that doing yoga may help fight fatigue. If you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, you may also want to try following along with a guided meditation designed to raise your energy levels.
6. Put Away Your Screens for a Bit
Spending a lot of time looking at your computer, tablet, or phone can tire out your eyes. You’re much less likely to blink while looking at digital screens, which can make your eyes dry. Eye strain, in turn, can make it harder to focus and make you feel tired in other ways.
To protect your eyes, keep screens at least 20 inches away from your face. Use artificial tears (hydrating eye drops) if your eyes begin to feel dry. Finally, take regular breaks while working. At a minimum, abide by the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, spend at least 20 seconds looking at something that’s at least 20 feet away.
7. Skip the Alcohol
A happy hour drink may temporarily pick you up, but it will lead to more fatigue later. Grab something alcohol-free at lunchtime and in the early evening to maintain your energy levels until you’re ready to hit the hay.
Dealing With Ongoing Fatigue
While there are plenty of ways to get a quick pick-me-up, these strategies won’t be enough to keep you alert day in and day out if you’re not living a healthy lifestyle. Regularly choosing a more balanced diet, being more physically active, and limiting how much alcohol you drink are strategies that can increase your energy levels over time.
Feeling like you’re spending a lot of time in bed and living a fairly healthy lifestyle, but you’re still tired? It may be time to talk to a doctor. A sleep disorder such as sleep apnea may be preventing your body from fully recharging itself. Additionally, many other types of health issues can interfere with quality rest, including anemia (low levels of red blood cells), conditions that cause inflammation, heart disease, thyroid problems, and anxiety or depression. Your doctor can determine whether anything’s wrong and help you get any treatments you need.
In the meantime, see if these tricks help you get going more quickly in the morning, stay awake for that afternoon meeting, or keep up with your energetic kids.