The science behind maintaining high energy levels
When was the last time you woke up feeling energized and content, and spent the entire day feeling the same level of alertness until your bed time? If your answer is I feel this way all the time, then congratulations, you must be taking good care of yourself. Otherwise, I have a few tips for you. But before I dwell into the details, why should you care about your energy?
Why should you care about your energy?
I'm not referring to the spike in energy you get after sugar or caffeine, but the energy that stays with you as you go about your day. The energy that keeps you alert, happy and focused. It affects your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, and physical vitality. It's the quality of your life.
If this is something you want to improve. Here's a few tips:
First and foremost. Sleep well.
Most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night, while the average adult sleeps less than 7 according to the National Institutes of Health.
If you're used to not sleeping well, you might not remember what it feels like to be wide awake and fully alert. Maybe you feel it's normal to need an alarm clock to wake up, to feel sleepy in boring meetings, or to need to sleep in on weekends, but the truth is it's only “normal” if you're sleep deprived.
Make sleep a priority. Sleep at least 5 uninterrupted 90-minutes cycles each night. It comes out to a total of 7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The Center of Applied Cognitive Studies (CentACS) reports that:
Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain- wave patterns. For our purposes, it suffices to say that one sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM (rapid eye movement), sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep. The REM sleep phases are shorter during earlier cycles (less than 20 minutes) and longer during later ones (more than 20 minutes). If we were to sleep completely naturally, with no alarm clocks or other sleep disturbances, we would wake up, on the average, after a multiple of 90 minutes–for example, after 4 1/2 hours, 6 hours, 7 1/2 hours, or 9 hours, but not after 7 or 8 hours, which are not multiples of 90 minutes. In the period between cycles we are not actually sleeping: it is a sort of twilight zone from which, if we are not disturbed (by light, cold, a full bladder, noise), we move into another 90-minute cycle. A person who sleeps only four cycles (6 hours) will feel more rested than someone who has slept for 8 to 10 hours but who has not been allowed to complete any one cycle because of being awakened before it was completed….
It is much harder to wake up during non-REM cycle sleep than REM sleep. As the night goes by, REM sleep gets longer, which is why it is usually easier to wake someone up early morning than middle of the night. Also, if you find you're having a hard time waking up to your alarm clock, try to set it at intervals of 1.5 hours, so it goes off during REM sleep. For example if you go to bed at 11pm, set your alarm at 6.30am rather than 6am or 7am.
A low blood sugar is one of the common causes of afternoon fatigue. The best way to fight this is to eat several small meals throughout the day. Treat breakfast like you normally treat dinner. Start the day with a a full meal. You can have fish over rice, or a steak and veggies in the morning. Or, you can opt for a more traditional breakfast of eggs and fruits. Just make sure it's a good sized meal. Eat and snack again and again throughout the day, instead of having one heavy meal at night. Off course, be sure to choose healthy snacks and meals.
Get your daily Vitamin D
Vitamin D is produced in the skin using energy from sunlight. It's also found in a few foods like fish, cheese, butter, and egg yolks. But, if you can't get enough sunlight it's recommended to boost it with Vitamin D supplements.
A study led by Dr Akash Sinha from Newcastle University has shown than vitamin D is vital for making our muscles work efficiently and boosting energy level. The study has proved a link between vitamin D and mitochondria function; the most prominent roles of mitochondria are to produce the energy currency of the cell, ATP (i.e., phosphorylation of ADP). Vitamin D boosts your energy from within the cells.
That's why a few minutes under the sun makes you feel good!
Exercise for Energy
When exercising for energy choose cardiovascular exercises in your low to moderate training heart rate range. It's best not to deplete your body, which would prevent you from getting the maximum energy benefits.
Studies have shown that the more you exercise aerobically, the more mitochondria the body makes to produce more energy to meet your needs. Yes, this is the same mitochondria we discussed under Vitamin D
Do you normally feel energized throughout your day? Have you experimented with any of these methods? How did they work out for you? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.