How to Improve Energy Levels (10+ Simple Tips)
Most people feel pretty tired at the end of a busy day. After all, you’ve been working hard and expending lots of energy. But what if you struggle with feeling sluggish throughout the day? What if you make multiple trips to the coffeepot or nearby coffee shop or easily consume an entire thermos of the energy elixir on the job site, yet you still don’t feel as energized as you think you should? Wondering how to improve energy levels is an all-too-common concern for many, if not most, of us.
Battling fatigue or even struggling to keep your eyes open through the day isn’t unusual. Fortunately, though, there are solutions. And no, that doesn’t just mean it’s time to refill your biggest mug (at least not with coffee or tea). Small changes to your daily routine can help you feel more energetic throughout the day. As a bonus, they also can help improve overall health.
How to Improve Energy Levels
1. Get Better Sleep
Sure, getting enough shuteye (between 7 and 9 hours) is important. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can leave you feeling tired, groggy, and grumpy. (Obviously, right?)
But it’s not enough to just make sure you’re climbing into bed and turning out the lights at a certain time. You also need to make sure you’re getting quality, restful sleep. To help prepare your body for good rest, a regular sleep routine can be essential. That includes turning down the overhead lights, turning off blue lights like phones, tablets, and computers, and relaxing as bedtime approaches. That may involve reading a book, listening to music, taking a warm bath, adjusting the temperature, etc.
Surprisingly, though, a good night’s sleep might also be determined by what you do first thing in the morning…
2. Tune Up Your Circadian Rhythms
Day or night: it doesn’t matter as we have access to artificial light, so we can stay up all night if we want. Add in traveling to new time zones or switching clocks for daylight savings time, and no wonder so many of us feel like our internal clocks or circadian rhythms are off, if not completely broken. Not only can it affect energy levels, but this important clock can also affect appetite, carbohydrate tolerance, mood, and more.
One of the best ways to tune the circadian rhythm and improve energy levels is to ensure we enjoy bright daylight within 20 minutes of waking up. Seriously, one of the best ways to improve energy levels is to simply step outside and enjoy the beautiful colors of the sky every morning. You’ll not only reap better energy levels throughout the day, you’ll also enjoy improved sleep at night.
Other ways to support a healthy circadian rhythm include blocking blue light from computers, cellphones, tablets, TVs, and some types of lightbulbs in the evening and throughout the night. (Yep, that means skipping the late-night scrolling session when you can’t sleep.) Eating during daylight hours also appears to help your body clock reset, which is why breakfast may be the most important meal of the day if you’re suffering from low energy levels.
Feeling too tired to exercise? The solution is to exercise! In short, exercise provides more energy to burn, circulates oxygen, and increases dopamine levels in the brain to boost energy and mood. Even better, exercise has been shown to be a miracle cure, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and much more. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of early death by up to 30%.
Folks who exercise regularly enjoy higher self-esteem, improved mood, better sleep, decreased stress, and as mentioned, increased energy levels. For even greater results, choose a variety of exercise that includes heart-healthy cardio activities like walking, swimming, and biking along with resistance exercises that help build stronger muscles and bones.
Especially if you’ve been sedentary, you don’t need to get up and really push it hard to enjoy these benefits. Studies have found that simply incorporating low to moderate intensity movements (e.g., cycling or walking) into your day can increase energy levels by around 65%. Other research found if you’re feeling tired during the day, taking a short ten-minute walk has been found to increase energy and lower stress more than snacking.
4. Move More
If you find that you sit at a desk, in a car, or anywhere else all day long, then even regular exercise isn’t enough. That half hour to hour daily session isn’t enough to push you past a sedentary lifestyle.
But humans don’t get energy—we create energy, through movement.
So, if you do find your job and evenings are made up of too much time sitting, the solution is easy. Get up and move. Take a few minutes to walk around, stretch, enjoy an exercise snack such as some jumping jacks, squats, or other desk exercises. You may even find simply stepping outside to breathe deeply and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air (as long as the weather is favorable) can energize you.
Start with just two minutes of movement every hour to every hour and a half and see if you don’t start feeling a big difference in your mood and energy levels.
5. Stay Hydrated
When you’re feeling drained, it’s logical to reach for a stimulant like coffee, tea, or an energy drink. But before you do, start with a hydrating, refreshing glass of water as fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration. And guess what? Caffeine-containing drinks can lead to dehydration, making the problem worse, rather than better.
What’s more, the more caffeinated drinks you consume, the higher your tolerance becomes. So, the more often you turn to a cup of coffee for relief, the less ability it has to give you the boost you’re looking for. Cutting back on caffeine in exchange for more water can really boost energy levels throughout the day.
Plus, it’s well-known that caffeine can keep folks awake late at night and disrupt sleep patterns, leading to greater fatigue the following day.
As a general rule of thumb, shoot for consuming about half your weight in ounces of water per day. For example, a 100-pound person would drink at least 50 ounces; a 150-pound person would drink at least 75 ounces, and a 200-pound person would need at least 100 ounces.
Starting the day off with an “inner bath” is a great way to build this habit. In other words, start each morning with a large glass of water (around 16 to 20 ounces) to help rehydrate as soon as you get out of bed to energize your morning.
6. Eat a Healthy Diet
If you want to improve energy levels, you have to consume energy (in the form of calories). That is, no matter which diet you choose, you need to eat healthy whole foods. That includes high-quality proteins like quality meats, beans and legumes, eggs, and protein shakes; complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and healthy fats like omega-3s, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
Look for nutrient-rich foods to give your body what it needs to create energy. Iron-rich foods can be especially important for women and teenagers as low iron levels may lead to fatigue and feeling rundown. Foods rich in iron include red meat, green vegetables, and more. Other nutrients that are vital for energy levels include vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
Some of the most highly rated foods for providing long-lasting energy include whole grains, nuts, legumes, high-fiber vegetables, and many fruits, such as apples, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, grapefruit, and especially bananas. One study suggests that bananas may be even better for sustaining energy levels during intense exercise (in this case, cycling) than sports drinks.
It’s not just what you eat, though. It’s when and how. If you find your energy levels dipping, it may be because you’re hungry and need to eat. But it could also be because you overate and your body has slowed down to digest the excess calories. While some people do well when they skip breakfast (i.e., Intermittent Fasting) and feel more focused and energized, others need to eat earlier to get charged for the day. Use your energy levels to help you figure out which method is right for you and your body. Remember, your body may respond differently than your friends, family, co-workers, or the writers of this blog.
If you do find you are feeling peckish during the day, it might be time for a snack. Don’t load up on excess calories, though, which can drain energy. Instead, choose a healthy snack like a piece of fruit with nuts, some air-popped popcorn, or veggies with a healthy dip.
7. Cutting Back on Refined Sugar
Pretty much all of us in America eat more refined sugar than is healthy. But while sugar provides a quick rush right after eating, it’s usually followed by a hard crash. Then, because you’re feeling tired and drained, you may be tempted to eat more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle, but it is possible to overcome. (Check out Coach Cristina’s experience.)
While natural sugars found in vegetables, fruits, and some other whole foods are an important part of a healthy diet, refined sugars, including sucrose, glucose, fructose, fruit juice, and corn syrup, only lead to wild energy fluctuations with more downs than ups. Unfortunately, they’re hidden in countless foods from breakfast cereals to condiments (including salad dressings) to prepared foods to, of course, desserts of every style.
Carbohydrate foods do provide the energy the body needs. However, those that have a smaller impact on blood sugar levels provide the greatest energy benefits. These include high-fiber vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
8. Control Stress
In today’s world, stress is an inevitable part of existence. That’s not all bad, as there are benefits to stress. Unmanageable, uncontrolled, or chronic stress, on the other hand, has a wide range of negative effects, including taking up a lot of your energy.
To help control stress, try:
- Connecting with friends, family, or community
- Joining a support group, such as the amazing BioTRUST VIP Facebook Group
- Meditating, yoga, or tai chi
- Playing with a pet
- Massage therapy
- Checking in with a therapist
- Lightening your load if you’re feeling overworked or overwhelmed
- Adding a houseplant to your work area
- Listening to music
- Or some combination of any or all of the above!
9. Lifestyle Choices
Certain lifestyle choices can also decrease energy levels. For example, alcohol is dehydrating, so it can also increase levels of fatigue. It’s especially important to avoid it at brunch or lunch, as its sedative effect can be even stronger midday. While you may not need to cut out drinking completely, shoot for drink-free nights (and days) several times a week and only drink moderately when you do imbibe.
Smoking has also been shown to decrease energy levels by acting as a stimulate, which raises heart rate and blood pressure, leading to insomnia. So, making different choices (and getting help if need be) can lead to lasting positive effects on how you feel throughout the day.
10. Address Medical Issues
There are also health conditions that can lead to low energy levels. If you are suffering from fatigue and can’t understand why, it’s time to discuss the issue with your doctor. Common health reasons for daytime fatigue include:
- Sleep apnea
- Underactive thyroid
- Infections (e.g., colds or flu)
- Obesity or being overweight
- Being underweight
- Eating disorders
- Cancer as well as cancer treatments
- Heart disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Various medicines, including antidepressants and sedatives
- Anxiety and depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Some herbal remedies
Other Ways to Improve Energy Levels
While low energy levels are a common issue for way too many of us, there are simple steps we can take to rev up the day. In addition to the above tips, some other less common options include:
- Turning down the heat or sitting next to an open window can be another great way to help beat a midday slump. Even if you have to put on a sweater, cooling off can help stimulate the mind and body.
- A quick three-minute cold shower may have a similar effect. Just avoid doing so late in the day as that may be stimulating, making it harder to go to sleep.
- Finding something interesting to do or learn can be another fantastic way to wake up the mind. If you’ve been working on a draining task for a while, switch it up to something different for a bit to stimulate your mind.
- Likewise, if you have to read something that’s a bit boring, increasing your reading speed may help keep the brain interested.
- Engaging your senses by smelling a lemon, some peppermint, or using aromatherapy to stimulate the mind, which can in turn stimulate the body.
- Chewing gum, which has been found in some research to help perk people up. If gum isn’t to your preference, sucking on some hard candy may also work. Just beware of the added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Taking a power nap.
- Opening up the blinds or curtains or, if that’s not possible, using daytime lighting in your area to brighten your mood and energy.
- Trying some energizing yoga diaphragm breathing. Or simply take some deep, cleansing breaths.
- Adding some red to your surroundings or clothing as red is often considered to be both a grounding and energizing color. If red isn’t your color, then maybe shades of yellow, orange, or other bright colors will help brighten your day and energy levels.
- Sitting up straight and tall with proper posture. Slouching is a naturally fatiguing posture that’s easy to slump into.
- Drinking caffeine can increase alertness, so enjoy a cup or two if you so choose. But do so judiciously. Caffeine too late in the day (after, say, 2 or 3 p.m.) can make it harder to fall asleep, which can lead to more fatigue tomorrow.
- But also, moderating your coffee intake. For example, rather than enjoying that large quad espresso first thing in the morning, cut your serving size down to a quarter cup and then repeat throughout the morning to early afternoon two to four times. Spreading out coffee intake over the day has been found in some research to provide longer lasting energy than a big dose to get the morning started.
Low energy levels are way too common—just ask your friends and coworkers, and you’re likely to find most of them have similar complaints. They aren’t, however, inevitable. The tips above can dramatically help reduce fatigue and improve energy levels & mood. And most of these are super simple steps you can easily incorporate into your busy lifestyle.