4 Science-Backed Ways to Get You Feeling Energetic

These tactical approaches will improve concentration and alertness

Benjamin Ebuka
Nov 27, 2020 · 8 min read
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Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Raise your hands if you struggle to get out of bed, even when you’ve technically gotten enough sleep, constantly begging your alarm to give you just 5 minutes, and you rely on several pints of coffee to get you through the morning — and probably all through the average working day?

It’s common to feel tired in our fast-paced modern world. It’s never a new thing to find yourself running from one activity to another, even when you’ve planned out a day to gain balance, and soothe your soul.

Whether it’s the emotional fatigue from all the weird things going on in the world, trying to juggle your passion and talent with the job you find yourself in, or having your sleep routine thrown off by a change in schedule, it seems virtually everyone is struggling with morning tiredness and wondering how to get back their energy to make their mornings more reasonable.

Tiredness is one of the UK’s top health complaints — figures from Healthspan show a worrying 97% of us claim we feel tired most of the time, and doctors’ records reveal 10% of people who book an appointment are looking for a cure for their tiredness.

Before I proceed, I do want to mention that I’m not talking about conditions like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and SEID, which affect several million people here in the US alone and are very hard to cure.

What I am talking about is a general state of tiredness that affects many, many more people (both children and adults) and can be prevented by evaluating your habits and changing those that are draining your energy.

Respect Your Body’s Sleep Cycle and Get Your Sleep On

You’ve probably seen the recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation about how many hours of sleep per day you should be getting based on your age. Well if you haven’t here is a break down:

  • Newborn (0–3 months): 14–17 hours
  • Infant (4–11 months): 12–15 hours
  • Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours
  • Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours
  • School Age (6–13 years): 9–11 hours
  • Teenager (14–17 years): 7–9 hours
  • Young Adults (18–25 years): 7–9 hours
  • Adult (26–64 years): 7–9 hours
  • Older Adult (65 years and older): 7–8 hours

If you’re wondering why teenagers, young adults, and adults all have the same recommendation despite being separate categories, based on the research it’s because the outlier ranges for each category differ.

Sleeping too little is a common cause of stress and fatigue. Those activities keeping you up all through the night can really affect your mornings and cause long term consequences to your health. Proper rest is important if you want to maintain high energy levels throughout the day.

The way Dr. Hugh Selsick sees it:

“Staying up for an extra half hour just to watch one more episode of a TV show can leave you feeling tired and rotten for 16 hours of the next day. Whereas that extra 30 minutes of sleep could have you feeling better for 16 hours of the next day. That’s a very good return on investment.”

If you do fall short on shut-eye, take a brief afternoon nap. Napping restores wakefulness and promotes performance and learning. A 10-minute nap is usually enough to boost energy. Don’t nap longer than 30 minutes, though, or you may have trouble sleeping that night. A nap followed by a cup of coffee may provide an even bigger energy boost, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Pro tips for better sleep:

  • Journal before bed to clear your mind.
  • Buy a comfortable mattress, pillow, and blanket.
  • Don’t wear the clothes you wore during the day, wear loose and natural fabrics.
  • If possible power off all distracting devices immediately after 10 PM. Don’t let your phone keep you up.

Stop Being a Couch Potato

Hold up! I’m all tired out, shouldn’t exercise be the last thing on my mind?

No! It's normal when you are fatigued, obviously, the only thing on your mind is rest. Your body obviously tells you that it’s time to take a break and rest for a while.

Now here is the other side of the coin: it might seem counterintuitive but sometimes daily tiredness might be your body crying out for more activity, the release of sweat, and more time in the sunshine — rather than just sitting in a chair, soaking up air for an electronic box.

“Exercise has consistently been linked to improved vigor and overall quality of life,” says Kerry J. Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“People who become active have a greater sense of self-confidence. But exercise also improves the working efficiency of your heart, lungs, and muscles,” Stewart says. “That’s the equivalent of improving the fuel efficiency of a car. It gives you more energy for any kind of activity.”

A 2008 study found that regular exercise can reduce symptoms of fatigue. In the study, 36 sedentary young adults did either low-intensity or moderate-intensity exercise over a period of six weeks. Both groups saw improvements in energy levels.

Exercise releases endorphins that naturally boost your energy levels. So you must take some time off regular activities and try an outdoor activity.

Break off those overnight bonds with yoga

Ever wondered why it feels so good to stretch when you wake up? That’s because overnight, during REM sleep, your muscles are literally paralyzed (Atonia), and reactivating them releases energy-stimulating endorphins, which creates that soothing feeling you enjoy.

University of Oregon researchers offered yoga instruction to 135 men and women ages 65 to 85. At the end of six months, participants reported an increased sense of well-being and a boost in overall energy.

Yoga means addition — addition of energy, strength, and beauty to body, mind, and soul.
Amit Ray,

Pro tip: Do 2–3 hours of moderate-intensity exercise at least 2 days a week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be too tedious. Because even a 10-minute walk around the house can give you the energy boost you need.

Stick to a schedule and look out for activities you are comfortable with and work with that. Here are some moderate intensity exercises you can try out:

  • Cycling.
  • Running (I tried running at 5 AM for 3 months straight and it gave me extraordinary benefits).
  • Yoga and light stretch.
  • Brisk walking.

Your Tank is Empty, You Need to Stick to a Routine and Refill Immediately

Sometimes I also feel tired during morning hours and lately, I have worked on myself, therefore, I’ve seen massive improvements. The first step I took was to discover what made me tired during the day — mainly the activities I did the previous night.

I found out two things: Firstly, I spend too much time learning diverse skills online. I have mastered the art of learning swiftly. An ability I think everyone should develop. For me, learning 30 skills within six months was pretty awesome, but as humans, we evolve, and definitely the need to acquire new skills is paramount.

Secondly, it turns out I wasn’t getting enough water before and after waking up from sleep. Which leaves me dehydrated during the day hurting my performance — sleepiness, changes in cognitive ability, and mood disruptions.

“Our research shows that dehydration makes it harder for athletes to complete a weight lifting workout,” says Dan Judelson, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at California State University at Fullerton. “It’s reasonable to think that dehydration causes fatigue even for people who are just doing chores.”

Dehydration is also known to cause a decrease in appetite, alertness, and concentrations.

According to a 2014 study, increasing water intake in people who don’t usually drink enough water was found to have beneficial effects on energy. People who decreased their water intake had fewer feelings of calmness, satisfaction, and positive emotions. Feelings of fatigue and inertia were also reported in this group.

Pro -tip: stay hydrated properly to keep your body running at optimum and cool levels. Before bed make sure you take a glass of water. Immediately upon waking up, take 1–2 glasses of water, this aids in flushing out those unwanted fluids in your system.

Up your water intake during the day by drinking a glass of water before every meal. Try keeping a bottle of water nearby, it could come in handy. Another quick fix I use is taking a brief shower. If that’s not an option for you, washing your face and hands in cold water can leave you feeling more awake and signal a temperature change to your body.

Cut Some Slack on Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol can be good sometimes, and most times it has dangerous effects on the human body — regardless of the quantity consumed, you must control your alcohol intake.

Alcohol changes the way you think and act. Although it is widely known that alcohol helps you to fall asleep, you won’t sleep as deeply. Sure, a glass might make you feel drowsy at night, but it negatively affects the quality of your sleep. Not to mention, it also can cause liver disease or high blood pressure, which may further negatively impact your sleep.

The NHS recommends that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to 6 pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy.

Pro-tip: of course the urge for alcohol will arise. Drink in moderation and try to have several alcohol-free days each week.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) suggests that the following steps may be helpful:

Put it in writing. Making a list of the reasons to curtail your drinking.

Set a drinking goal. Set a limit on how much you will drink.

Keep a diary of your drinking. For three to four weeks, keep track of every time you have a drink.

Don’t keep alcohol in your house. Having no alcohol at home can help limit your drinking.

Drink slowly. Sip your drink. Drink soda, water, or juice after having an alcoholic beverage.

Choose alcohol-free days. Decide not to drink a day or two each week.

Watch for peer pressure. Practice ways to say no politely.

Be persistent. Most people who successfully cut down or stop drinking altogether do so only after several attempts.

The Bottom Line

Stress, depression, and general negativity are all energy suckers, day in day out, gloomy times set in, but you must find soft activities to boost your mood and emotions.

Make easy lifestyle changes to your routine to increase your energy. Start with what is most appealing to you, and proceed gradually from there. You’ll start to improve your energy levels so you can feel your best daily. Be ambitious but, avoid pushing yourself beyond the limit.

In the end, maintaining an energy-filled lifestyle comes down to having healthy habits. We need to take them more seriously and be constantly reminded therefore making commitments in making sure we live our best life — especially when we’ve got school, relationships, career, and goals competing for our attention.

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Benjamin Ebuka

Written by

Medical Student and Researcher. Passionate about Personal Growth, Health, and History.

SkillUp Ed

Learn Better — Quality Stories about Skill Development

Benjamin Ebuka

Written by

Medical Student and Researcher. Passionate about Personal Growth, Health, and History.

SkillUp Ed

Learn Better — Quality Stories about Skill Development

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