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10 Effective Ways to Have More Energy With Less Caffeine (From a Former Caffeine Addict)

10 Effective Ways to Have More Energy With Less Caffeine (From a Former Caffeine Addict)

We’ve all seen the memes about morning time and coffee, but do you really want more coffee or do you just want more energy? Believe it or not, caffeine is not a synonym for energy. There are plenty of ways to get energized with less, or no caffeine. Caffeine should be used strategically – there’s nothing strategic about drinking an entire pot of coffee every morning. I’ve been there. As a recovering caffeine addict, I know what it’s like to want more and more energy when the caffeine seems to work less and less. Enough is enough.

Here are 10 ways to get more energy with less caffeine:

1. Get Moving

more energy less caffeine

    If you’re tired, more sleep may not be the answer. Exercise may be the answer. New research shows that exercise can help fight fatigue. Patrick O’ Connor, co-director of the University of Georgia Exercise Psychology Laboratory, says:

    “A lot of times when people are fatigued, the last thing they want to do is exercise, but if you’re physically inactive and fatigued, being just a bit more active will help.”

    Even just adding a minute workout to your morning routine can substantially boost your energy levels. If you want to incorporate a little caffeine, take a small amount just before your workout. The exercise will help to ‘activate’ the caffeine and give you even more energy.

    2. Lower Your Tolerance

    lower caffeine tolerance

      The less caffeine you consume, the more effective it is for you. Odds are, you’ve built up quite a tolerance to caffeine over the years. Try cutting back your caffeine intake to zero and then wait a few weeks before you ingest it again. You’ll be surprised at how much more effective the smallest amount of caffeine is once your tolerance for it has evened out.

      Just be sure to add it back to your life slowly or you’ll end up where you started. One study showed that caffeine tolerance can come back to the same level as it was before a caffeine hiatus in just 1-4 days if you jump right back into using the same amount as before.

      3. Change Your Mode

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      type of caffeine

        Does your caffeine come in the form of coffee, espresso, energy drinks or something else? You may be going for whatever has the most caffeine and that could be why you have an energy problem. Green tea, for example, has about 1/4 the caffeine of a cup of coffee. After the above-mentioned caffeine hiatus, you’ll be surprised at how well a little green tea works for energy. Find some new ways to caffeinate – there are literally thousands of options.

        4. Go Green

        greens for energy

          Green smoothies, green powders and green teas are just a few of the greens you need in your life. Eating and/or drinking more leafy greens in food and smoothies will seriously boost your energy levels. Many people find that green smoothies work better than a cup of coffee and you don’t have to worry about building up a tolerance. Some people actually question the benefits of green smoothies, but once you try them, you’ll understand how effective they are. There’s some controversy over green smoothies, but it really comes down to sugar content. The key ingredient in a greens smoothie should be the greens, not sugary fruit and fruit juices.

          5. Sleep More Sleep Better

          get better sleep

            You may be getting enough sleep, but are you getting good sleep? The quality of your sleep is just as important as the amount, and you may find that you can function well on less hours if quality is better. Here are a few tips to improve your sleep:

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            • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals before bed
            • Invest in a high-quality mattress and a nice pillow
            • Adjust the temperature to your liking (usually 65-70° F)
            • Avoid ‘blue light’ from electronic devices before bed
            • Exercise – more exercise will lead to better sleep

            You should also try to sleep within the confines of sleep cycles. Sleep cycles are 90 minutes, so sleeping for 6, 7.5, or 9 hours is generally more effective than sleeping for 5, 8, or 10 hours. One way to take the guesswork out of sleep cycles is to get the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock for your smartphone.

            6. Drink Water First

            drink water before coffee

              There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning, but drink water first. If you drink an entire liter of water, you may not even need the coffee. Our bodies are dehydrated after we go all night without any fluids. This isn’t just for morning time; drinking water throughout the day will help you to stay hydrated, which leads to increased and sustained energy levels. Contrary to popular belief, a reasonable amount of caffeine doesn’t really dehydrate you and the water that makes up the majority of your coffee can count towards your daily water intake, but it only accounts for a small fraction, so keep chugging that water.

              7. Cut the Sugar

              energy drinks sugar

                When you do use caffeine, go for things like black coffee and non-sweetened tea. Sugary energy drinks and coffee drinks are great for a quick boost- but then comes the crash. The crash usually isn’t from the caffeine (though caffeine can cause a crash), it’s usually from the sugar. If you’re going to have caffeine, have it alone, without all the sugar. Some people have found that energy shots work better for them, since the amount of sugar or sugar substitute is minimal- but everyone’s body reacts differently.

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                8. Spread it Out

                spread out coffee

                  Don’t think ‘chug’, think ‘sip’. Sipping caffeine over a longer period of time can cause higher and more sustained energy levels. Often, the caffeine passes through your system before your body has a chance to react to it when you drink it quickly. Sipping also helps your body to slowly clear the caffeine out of your system, which means a crash is much less likely to occur.

                  9. Use Food for Fuel

                  food for fuel

                    Keep your diet clean and full of fruits and veggies. This will help to sustain your energy levels throughout the day, without even touching caffeine. I love food and I’m sure you do too, but every meal doesn’t have to be a celebration. When you want a nice dinner, take the time to focus on it, but for every other meal, you’re just putting fuel into your body. Separate your leisure meals and your energy meals. For example, you may want a leisurely dinner every night with your family, but for breakfast and lunch, you’re just filling up the tank, so eat food that will give you the energy you need. Think: vegetables, fruits, lean meat, nuts and occasional whole grains.

                    10. Go Natural

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                    natural caffeine

                      When you do consume caffeine, try more natural sources like Guarana. Guarana is a plant that contains naturally occurring caffeine. Coffee bean extract and green tea extract are a few more ways to naturally caffeinate. Sure, to an extent, caffeine is caffeine, but natural sources will help you eliminate the artificial sugars, preservatives and chemicals found in many drinks and pills.

                      Just remember, you don’t need caffeine, and if you think you do, you’re probably addicted and it’s not working very well anyways. There are plenty of ways to increase your energy without caffeine and there are even more ways to strategically use caffeine to your advantage. Don’t work for caffeine, make caffeine work for you.

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                      Kalen Bruce

                      Military, Writer

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                      Published on November 14, 2018

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                      Symptoms of Fatigue

                      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                      • mental blocks
                      • lack of motivation
                      • headache
                      • dizziness
                      • muscle weakness
                      • slowed reflexes and responses
                      • impaired decision-making and judgement
                      • moodiness, such as irritability
                      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                      • reduced immune system function
                      • blurry vision
                      • short-term memory problems
                      • poor concentration
                      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                      Causes of Fatigue

                      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                      Medical Causes of Fatigue

                      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                      Anemia

                      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                      Sleep Apnea

                      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                      Thyroid disease

                      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Lack of sleep
                      • Too much sleep 
                      • Alcohol and drugs 
                      • Sleep disturbances 
                      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                      • Poor diet 

                      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                      1. Tell The Truth

                      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                      • How you feel
                      • What time of day it is
                      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                      • How your mind and body reacts

                      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                      2. Reduce Your Commitments

                      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                      4. Express More Gratitude

                      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                      5. Focus On Yourself

                      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                      7. Take a Power Nap

                      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                      8. Take More Exercise

                      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                      9. Get More Quality Sleep

                      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                      10. Improve Your Diet

                      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                      12. Get Hydrated

                      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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