If you find yourself feeling sluggish, having difficulty staying awake, or chugging multiple cups of coffee just to make it to lunchtime, you’re not alone.
Most of us are familiar with feeling worn out and weary at the end of the day.
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy actions you can take to reduce fatigue and boost your energy levels.
In fact, making a few small changes to your daily routine can significantly affect how energetic you feel, along with many other aspects of your health.
Here are 9 simple strategies to increase your energy levels naturally.
1. Get more sleep
Many people cut into hours that should be spent in bed, such as pushing back bedtime to meet a deadline or study for an exam.
Not getting enough sleep can drain your energy levels, leaving you feeling lethargic, grumpy, and tired the next day
Although the amount of sleep a person needs can vary slightly, experts generally recommend aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night to boost energy levels and support overall health.
If you have trouble sleeping, you may benefit from setting a regular sleep schedule and winding down at the end of the night by taking a bubble bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music.
Some research also suggests that limiting your use of electronic devices, like your phone, laptop, or television, before bed could also help increase sleep quality and prevent daytime sleepiness.
If you often feel tired throughout the day, you may need more quality sleep. Try going to bed earlier and reducing screen time before bed.
2. Reduce stress
It’s common for people with busy lives to feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.
Not only can stress take a serious toll on your physical and mental health, but it has also been closely linked to tiredness and fatigue.
Consider what is frequently causing you to feel stressed or drained and ask yourself whether you can remove it from your life. If that’s not possible or desirable, then what actions can you take to reduce your stress about that thing over the long term?
Potential causes of stress include:
- the pressure that comes with everyday responsibilities at work, school, or home
- sudden stressful life changes, like losing your job, going through a breakup, or dealing with the death of a loved one
- having experienced trauma, such as from a car accident
In many cases, it may not be possible to completely remove sources of stress from your life. However, if you are able to reduce your stress levels, it could help bump up your energy.
Strategies to increase your energy levels in the moment include taking some time for yourself to relax, reading, or going for a walk. You could also try mindfulness or meditation techniques, which may reduce anxiety.
However, it’s important to note that if you feel very stressed and your anxiety is severe, it may be beneficial to talk with a mental healthcare professional for additional support.
High levels of stress can make you feel tired and drained. Finding ways to minimize lifestyle-related stress can help keep up your energy levels.
3. Move more
Regular exercise is important for reducing your risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
What’s more, some research suggests that adding more physical activity to your routine could also fight fatigue and increase your energy levels.
According to one small study, university students who participated in a low intensity running program 3 times per week for 6 weeks experienced significant improvements in fatigue and sleep quality, compared with a control group.
Another study in employees with high levels of work-related fatigue showed that participating in a 6-week exercise program improved the following factors:
- emotional exhaustion
- overall fatigue
- sleep quality
- cognitive function
- work ability
To incorporate exercise into your day, try getting away from your desk and going for a walk on your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to work or school instead of driving.
If you live a sedentary lifestyle and feel low on energy, participating in regular exercises, like walking, running, or cycling, can boost your energy levels.
4. If you smoke, consider quitting
Smoking can negatively affect multiple health aspects and may increase the risk of numerous chronic conditions.
What’s more, the toxins and tar in the smoke reduce the efficiency of your lungs. Over time, this can reduce the amount of oxygen transported throughout your body, making you feel tired.
If you regularly smoke, quitting may be associated with many health benefits, including increased energy levels.
Some people find it helpful to switch cigarettes for a nicotine replacement, like gum, patches, or lozenges.
However, once you’ve decided to quit, it’s best to reach out to a healthcare professional, like a family doctor. They can point you in the direction of the support services that will suit you best.
Smoking can reduce the efficiency of your lungs and make you feel tired. Quitting smoking is great for both your energy levels and your overall health.
5. Limit alcohol
Drinking alcohol can have a sedative effect and may make you feel drowsy and relaxed.
Many people mistakenly believe that drinking an alcoholic beverage (or “nightcap”) can be an effective way to fall asleep faster. However, regularly drinking alcohol before bed can reduce the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol can also act as a diuretic, meaning that it increases the production of urine. Therefore, if you have a few drinks right before bed, it could interrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night.
For this reason, it’s best to enjoy alcohol in moderation and limit your intake close to bedtime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines moderation as one drink per day for women and two per day for men.
If you have a hard time limiting your intake of alcohol or would like additional support, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional for more guidance.
Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but it can also interfere with the quality of your sleep. If you drink regularly, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume could help increase your energy levels.
6. Eat a nutritious diet
If you’re always feeling tired, sluggish, and low in energy, switching up your eating habits could be beneficial.
Following a well-rounded diet can not only reduce your risk of several chronic conditions but also significantly affect your energy levels.
Choosing whole, nutritious foods can provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to function at its best. On the other hand, eating lots of processed foods that are high in sugar and fat can negatively affect both your energy levels and your overall health.
Additionally, some studies show that skipping meals may be linked to fatigue, anxiety, and poor attention.
It’s also important that you eat enough food to fuel yourself during the day.
This is because severe dietary restrictions can result in a lack of both calories and essential nutrients, such as iron, which could take a toll on your energy levels.
Following a healthy diet can benefit both your health and your energy levels. Eating regularly and ensuring that you’re eating enough can also help boost energy levels.
7. Limit added sugar
When you feel tired, it can be easy to reach for a sweet, sugar-filled snack. However, although sugar can give you a short-term energy boost, it also wears off very quickly and can leave you feeling more tired than before.
This is because high sugar foods cause a sharp spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash as the body releases a large amount of insulin to transport sugar from the bloodstream to the cells.
Interestingly, one study showed that people reported experiencing 26% more fatigued when they followed a diet high in refined carbs and added sugar, compared with when they consumed a diet filled with whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Eating large amounts of added sugar may also increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, so limiting your intake of added sugar can benefit both your energy levels and your health.
If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your energy levels more stable and reducing fatigue, try trading foods high in added sugar for:
- fresh berries
- dried fruit
- trail mix
Eating foods high in sugar may lead to chronic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Consider minimizing your intake and focusing on eating whole foods instead.
8. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water is incredibly important for several aspects of health.
In particular, dehydration can have a huge effect on your brain function, mood, energy levels, and more.
For example, one small study found that acute dehydration significantly increased the perception of fatigue and impaired muscular performance in athletes.
As a general rule, try drinking water whenever you feel thirsty to ensure that you stay hydrated. You might also need to increase your intake if you’re very active or live in a hot climate.
Additionally, keep in mind that older adults may not always feel thirsty when they need water. As such, they may need to make a conscious effort to drink more throughout the day to stay hydrated.
Dehydration can make you feel tired. Make a conscious effort to drink enough water throughout the day and respond to your thirst, especially during exercise and if you’re older.
9. Connect with people
Social connections are incredibly important for maintaining good health.
In fact, social isolation can cause low mood and tiredness, especially as you age.
Some research even indicates that having stronger social support could be associated with improvements in physical and mental health as you age.
If you feel tired and in low spirits, it can be helpful to try socializing with friends, joining a club or class, volunteering, or finding a new hobby that gets you out and about.