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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

7 Causes of Low Energy (And How To Boost Yours)

7 Causes of Low Energy (And How To Boost Yours)
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Although many do not recognize it, energy is the driving force to how each individual operates in the world. However, many people sometimes have low energy and unable to do things productively. As a result, there are numerous supplements and drugs available (over-the-counter and not) that aim to modify individual energy levels.

One can improve energy levels without the use of drugs and supplements. However, for an added boost, I do often suggest several all-natural/organic supplements that can be utilized effectively to increase energy.

Examine the areas of your life that you think can still be improved or “hacked”, as some may say. If you are honest with yourself, I’m sure you’ll identify these areas that could use some improvement.

But before you can learn how to boost your energy, you should know what causes your low energy in the first place.

Causes of Low Energy

We all can’t be full of energy all the time. Like everything in life, there are ups and downs in terms of our energy levels. Here are the 7 causes of low energy.

1. Circadian Rhythm and Lack of Sleep

Circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle of an individual. It repeats on each rotation of the Earth (roughly every 24 hours).

In our technological age, sleep has become an after-thought for many. Many people practice poor sleep habits, such as eating before bed, going to sleep too late, watching TV, or using smartphones/tablets before bed.

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All of these habits harm our circadian rhythm. Eating before bed and blue light exposure from screens are both major disruptors of our circadian rhythm.

2. Lack of Hydration

Surprisingly, when I speak with most people about hydration, they are the first to admit they don’t drink enough water. When people ask me about illness or even something as seemingly simple as a headache, my first question is always “do you drink enough water?”, and the answer is always no.

Why people don’t associate illness, disease, or dysfunctions within the body with a lack of hydration is beyond me, especially since up to 60% of the human adult body is water.

According to H.H. Mitchell, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, respectively. Moreover, the lungs are approximately 83% water, while muscles and kidneys are 79% water. The skin contains 64% water and bones are composed of 31% water.[1]

With that in mind, it’s honestly a no-brainer that if someone is feeling a bit off, hydration is the first thing to examine. Beyond simply consuming more water, the quality of water is also a factor.

Personally, I drink water that has been filtered through a Santevia filter, which helps restore the body’s natural pH level with an alkaline water filter system. Alternatively, I drink natural spring water. Both of these options are better approaches to water consumption.

3. Lack of Exercise

This goes beyond exercising in a gym. Most people live very sedentary lives where most of their day is spent either in bed (sleeping), watching TV (sitting), on a computer/smartphone (sitting), or commuting/driving (sitting).

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Rewind 10,000 or even 5,000 years and consider that most humans were up and active for the majority of the day. Movement is needed to generate energy and additionally, to increase circulation/blood flow and synovial fluid, which is primarily involved in reducing friction between the articular cartilages of your synovial joints when you’re moving.[2]

4. Poor Nutrition

In 2020, this has become even more prevalent for many people in society because fast-food chains have increasingly been the source of food. On the other hand, many people have taken it upon themselves to begin cooking more at home. However, even with grocery store ingredients, this can impede energy levels.

The old expression “you are what you eat” is absolutely true. Without going on a tangent, I will simply say that mass factory-farmed protein is not high-quality protein and chemically modified (pesticide sprayed) produce and vegetables is not ideal either. Most especially, fast-foods are generally unhealthy and give unneeded calories without much nutrients to justify it.[3]

5. Poor Breathing Patterns/Habits

This one really gets me in that much of our society now is wearing a mask throughout parts of the day or even the whole day. The problem with this is a lack of clean air/oxygen and an abundance of recycled carbon dioxide.

Heightened carbon dioxide and lack of clean oxygen can lead to Hypoxia (when body tissue does not get enough oxygen) or Hypercapnia (elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood causing dizziness, shortness of breath, headache, hyperventilation, seizures, and in extreme cases death.).

Poor breathing has already been a global epidemic as far as I can tell, especially with the increasing levels of air pollution. It is also caused by poor posture, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, stress, anxiety, and more. Now with the Covid-19 pandemic, improper use of masks can amplify the lack of oxygen that many had already been experiencing.

6. Overthinking

Overthinking, in general, can be extremely energy-draining for an individual. This ties-in with stress, depression, and anxiety. I even present the notion that excess thinking is something that can be carried over generationally, meaning if your parents (especially mother) had been prone to overthinking, it can be challenging for a child, especially later in life. This can be confirmed by the genetic carrying-over of certain mental illnesses, such as dementia, bipolarism, and more.[4]

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7. Overworking

Not taking time to unwind and relax will most likely lead to low energy levels. Life does not revolve around various types of work, though some would argue that point. Overworking and overthinking go hand in hand, and both need to be seriously examined by anyone looking to improve energy levels.

How to Boost Your Energy

Now that we know the main causes of low energy, we can now better tackle this problem. Here are some ways to help you boost energy.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Our society devalues sleep for some reason, yet it is the number one most effective way to ensure you feel alert and energized throughout the day. Begin with setting a plan for sleep habits.

As an example, I aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night during the week and 8-9 hours of sleep on weekends. The plan includes getting to bed before 12 am and, in some cases, before 11 pm. Part of this plan includes not eating at least 2 hours before bed, though I have to admit I don’t always achieve that and when I do eat too close to bedtime, it noticeably disrupts my sleep throughout the night.

2. Don’t Forget to Drink Water

Hydration is a simple one to tackle in my opinion. We’ve got so many third-party sleep and hydration tracking mobile apps nowadays and using your default phone reminders allows you to set a reminder to drink a glass of water.

I suggest setting a reminder to drink a glass of water (8oz for example) several times throughout the day. I personally feel best when consuming between 3-4L of water per day (approx 1 gallon).

3. Exercise

Exercise doesn’t need to be as strict as going into a gym and lifting weights, though I suggest doing just that as it is very beneficial for your physical and mental well-being. Simply going for a 15min walk 3-4 times throughout the day (walking for 45min-60min per day) would yield great results in terms of boosting your energy.

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Want to step it up a notch? Go walking in nature for that 60min per day as there are many benefits to ‘Forest Bathing’, ‘Nature Therapy’, or Shinrin-Yoku.

4. Try Yoga and Conscious Breathing

Yoga practices are something I have been adopting more as time goes on. The reason is simply that it combines a type of exercise/movement with focused/conscious breathing. As you can tell from this article, movement and breathing play a large part in the energy of an individual—from generating to expenditure. Here’s How Practicing Morning Yoga Transforms Your Life (+10 Beginners’ Poses).

Practice conscious breathing, and draw your attention to the breath more frequently throughout the day. One method I can suggest is to take a small thread or string and cut a piece that can wrap around your belly (navel) but not tightly. You should be able to fit 2 fingers (approx 1 inch) between the string and your belly. You can test the required length by taking a deep diaphragmatic (360-degree core expanding) belly breath and cutting the string at the point where your navel expands most.

Once you have the string in place, keep it on throughout the day. It acts as a physical queue/reminder that you should be expanding your full core and taking deep breaths throughout the day. This approach helps unlearn shallow or chest breathing habits. You will gradually notice an increase in energy on the sheer fact that you are breathing more optimally throughout the day.

5. Meditate to Avoid Overthinking and Overworking

Addressing overthinking and overworking happens in large part when one has a better grasp of the aforementioned energy boosters of sleep, hydration, exercise, and breathing.

Specifically addressing the matter of overthinking, I have in many cases suggested various forms of meditation. However, for this particular article, I’m circling back to Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing/Nature Therapy) as it allows one to perform a walking and nature-type meditation while boosting energy.

Regarding overworking, you’ll find that if you improve sleep habits, your waking state will substantially improve, and of course, you’ll also start generating and utilizing energy more optimally.

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Bottom Line

Simply put, try these steps either one by one, a few at a time, or all at once. You will see improvements with each suggestion, and they are good remedies whenever you’re feeling low on energy. Energy begets more energy, meaning you will then continue to improve how you manage energy levels.

More Tips for When You Have Low Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Published on July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better
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Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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Reference

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