Tired? 9 Lifestyle Changes to Increase Energy
Once you’ve ruled out a medical problem by seeing your doctor and assessed how many hours of quality sleep you’re getting per night, you may need to make some lifestyle changes to increase your energy levels. In the meantime, focusing on the following nine tips for good energy may help reverse feelings of exhaustion.
1. Set a Regular Bedtime and Stick to It
It seems simple, but if you’re not keeping a regular sleep routine, your body may revolt with a lack of energy. A study in the journal Nature found irregular sleepers (those with an inconsistent sleep and wake cycle) had later bedtimes and more daytime sleepiness. Those considered regular sleepers got significantly more sleep than sporadic sleepers.
The average bedtime of Sleep Number’s SleepIQ® sleepers is 10:29 pm, and the average wake-up time of SleepIQ® sleepers is 7:10 pm. How do you compare?
2. Drink Enough Water
Dehydration is an energy sucker. Research published in Oxford’s journal Sleep highlighted a link between poor sleep and dehydration. The study found that short sleep – less than six hours nightly – is linked to kidney function and your hydration status. So aside from getting in your zzz’s, drink plenty of H2O (just not too close to bedtime or you’ll be waking up for late-night bathroom runs).
3. Work Out
Seem counterintuitive? Yes, physical activity tires you out, but it boosts your energy later. Exercise releases endorphins, helps with sleep, decreases stress and strengthens your heart and lungs, so they work more efficiently and deliver oxygen to all your organs. This raises your energy levels and combats fatigue. Getting in daily exercise is one small way you can feel more energetic and sleep better at night. SleepIQ® sleepers who exercise daily are the most restful overall, have the highest SleepIQ® scores and lowest average heart rates.* Take a walk, do yoga, get in a bike ride, or start a workout practice you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it.
4. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
Big meals can zap energy levels, since they divert energy to your digestive system. “A rich, heavy meal close to bedtime will interfere with your rest and leave you feeling sluggish in the morning,” says Nancy Gerstein, author of Motivational Yoga: 100 Lessons for Strength, Energy and Motivation.
Instead, experiment with eating more frequent small meals to see if you notice an uptick in energy. Also, if you’re constantly on the hunt for a snack, a lack of sleep can be the culprit, making you feel hungrier. Experts say it’s better to take a nap than eat mindless calories to fill your vitality cup. Smaller, more frequent meals may control cravings, too. If you just can’t kick your nighttime snack, learn how to snack smarter.
5. Limit Cocktails
Most people know that drinking alcohol can affect your sleep by making you initially drowsy and then waking you up in the middle of the night. But if you drink during low energy times, like mid-afternoon or late evening, you can really zap your stamina, reports Harvard Medical School. Alcohol’s sedative quality can make you feel even more lethargic. Reach for water instead, or water-filled foods like fruits, veggies and soups, which can provide the energy you need. According to the Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number, a glass of wine or beer or a cocktail around dinner is fine, but alcohol right before bed is a bad idea. Even if you don’t wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll get junk sleep and won’t wake up feeling as rested as you could. Moderation is always important!
6. Find Ways to Cut Stress
A Chinese study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine found insomnia was rampant during the height of the pandemic due to anxiety, fear and social distancing challenges. Sleep is elusive when you are worrying about the virus, the economic fallout and the family, causing more stress. Can you relate?
That’s why experts recommend finding ways to decompress during the day, and especially in the evening: whether it’s yoga, a meditation practice, listening to music, journaling, watching a comedy, or any other way to stop the worrying.
7. Get Outdoors
According to psychologists, spending time outside helps you shrug off societal pressures and boost your immunity by breathing in phytoncides (airborne particles from plants). It also gives your brain an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee.
A study in Behavioral Sciences found that visiting green spaces reduced cortisol, the hormone responsible for increased stress levels and lack of energy. Spending just 20 minutes in nature can significantly decrease your stress and make you feel more energetic.
And, you can bring nature indoors with houseplants too. Here’s a great article about how houseplants can help supercharge your sleep.
8. Improve Your Sleep Habits
Take the Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number, a free 30-day online wellness plan to improve your sleep habits so you learn to create a routine that works for you. While 82% of participants experience better sleep quality, 74% improve or change a poor sleep habit.
9. Focus on Quality Sleep Over Quantity
You may not be sleeping as many hours as you’d like, so make sure the hours you do sleep are the best quality sleep possible to keep your energy levels up and immune system in fighting form. Good news is Sleep Number research shows that Sleep Number® bed owners get almost an hour’s more sleep per night than the average sleeper.**
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.
*Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/1/19 to 1/1/20 and self-reported responses of sleepers using SleepIQ® technology from 5/12/19 – 1/5/19
**Based on self-reported hours of sleep from a general population survey compared to our SleepIQ® data.