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1 in 3 of us claims to feel permanently shattered, with the pace of modern life the biggest energy sapping culprit, according to Mintel research. Many of us turn to knocking back a coffee, but that will only mask the symptoms of tiredness. You’ll perk up temporarily because it stimulates the delivery of more oxygenated blood around the body, but when it wears off you may feel even worse. Try these tips instead.
Dehydration can induce fatigue and reduced focus and concentration because it lowers blood volume, which means your heart and lungs must work harder to pump the blood to your brain and other organs. At the first sign of tiredness, drink a glass of water, but you can also keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip on it regularly. Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you if necessary. NHS guidelines recommend men drink at least two quarts of water per day, but this should increase in proportion to the amount of exercise you do.
The most likely cause of long-term tiredness is not getting enough high-quality sleep. Two-thirds of us have some form of sleep problem that affects daily energy levels, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which suggests taking a 20-minute hot bath before bed and going to bed and rising at the same times each day.
The most common time for energy levels to plummet is 2.16pm, according to NHS research, so that’s the time to stick the earphones on. Playing your favourite music loud is one of the most effective weapons to combat both stress and fatigue, according to the Online Journal Of Sport Psychology. Research has also shown that music heightens motivation and stimulates interest because comprehending a tune synchronises both left and right hemispheres of the brain, which instantly makes you feel more alert.
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play essential roles in cell metabolism and releasing energy from the food you eat. The best sources are wholegrains, beans and pulses. A lack of dietary B vitamins can cause fatigue, and a US study reported that many athletes and regular gym-goers are at risk of depletion.
Rushing out with no time for anything more complicated than a cereal bar? It’s worth getting up a little earlier, because making and eating the right breakfast will have you firing on all cylinders. Eggs are ideal – a study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that men who ate eggs for breakfast experienced higher energy levels throughout the day than those who ate bagels.
If you feel sluggish it’s probably because your blood sugar levels have hit rock bottom. Rather than automatically grabbing a doughnut or other sugary treat for a quick fix, snack on something that’s high in fiber like an apple – it will fill you up and stop you feeling hungry, whereas a sugar spike won’t last and just leads to another craving before long.
Been leaving your training till the evening because you’re worried a lunchtime workout will leave you yawning through the afternoon? In fact you’ll be more alert and productive, according to the Academy Of Management Review, whose data indicates that exercising during lunch can reverse any fatigue caused by the morning’s work.
Sometimes it’s all you can do to resist curling up for a nap after lunch. This energy crash is caused by consuming loads of carbohydrates so, to stay awake all afternoon, keep lunchtime carbs to a minimum. Lean protein will fill you up for longer and help avoid a crash. Ideally, add some spice because spicy food fires up your metabolism to make you more alert, according to the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
One thing that can make you feel low and lethargic is a lack of vitamin D. Although some foods contain this nutrient (oily fish, eggs and meat are the best sources) it’s hard to get a decent dose from diet alone. Your body makes vitamin D but only if your skin is exposed to sunlight, so take a walk outside for at least 15 minutes twice a day to kick-start its production. Even better, go for a run.
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