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7 Tips to Function Better When You’re Tired

7 Tips to Function Better When You’re Tired

It seems like there’s an epidemic of sleepiness in the world today. Whether you’re a parent of young kids who don’t sleep well, a frenzied college student, or a person who suffers from insomnia, being tired is really common these days. But a strong cup of coffee isn’t the only way to wake up: the next time you find yourself hitting an afternoon (or morning) slump, try these tips to help you function more effectively when tired.

1. Get Moving

I know it seems counterproductive, but exercise actually can give you a boost of energy. A morning workout can help you get through the first part of your day more easily, as can a workout when your afternoon slump hits instead of an energy drink. Some studies suggest that taking a break from work to exercise will give you a productivity boost that will help counteract the time you spent away from the office.

If you can’t get away for a real workout, just jumping up and down at your desk or doing a little stretching can get your blood flowing enough to make you function better and feel a little more energized.

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What’s more, if you are tired because you’re not sleeping well, regular exercise can help you sleep better. Check out my article on How to Fall Asleep Fast for more on that.

2. Get Some Sun

If you can’t get out into fresh air and sunlight, find some bright light indoors. Either way you’ll get an energy boost, but natural light is better, because increasing your levels of vitamin D—which you’ll do if you step outside for 15 minutes—can make you feel more energetic and less moody and stressed. You could even combine these two tips and take a walk in the sunshine for a double boost of focus and improved energy.

3. Drink Some Water

You might think that drinking coffee is the best way to fuel your brain when you’re not feeling up to working, but water is what your body really needs when you’re tired. Being dehydrated makes your body work harder, which can make you feel even more fatigued. So drink up, and keep drinking so you’ll stay hydrated through hard days.

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While you’re at it, splash a little water on your face or jump in the shower to feel invigorated in a hurry.

4. Eat the Good Stuff

If you’re low on energy most of the time, changing what you eat can make a big difference. Eating breakfast literally fuels your brain so you can start the day with more energy. Likewise, eating every three or four hours and sticking to healthy foods keeps your body fueled properly.

What’s should you? A smallish meal of healthy carbs, some protein—particularly those with healthy fats like Omega 3s, which are great for the brain—and fiber would be the best choice. The fiber helps give you sustained energy as opposed to a high and crash cycle you’d get on if you ate processed foods and sugary drinks for your snacks.

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5. Take Some Deep Breaths

When we’re stressed we tend to breathe more shallowly, which can make us feel tired and sluggish. Pay attention to your breathing and take a minute or two to take some big, deep breaths. Do what the yogis call “belly breathing,” which means you should really see your stomach move out and in as you inhale and exhale. Try inhaling to a count of five, holding your breath for a couple of seconds, and exhaling to a count of five as well. Breathe through your nose and out through your mouth.

For bonus points, visualize a calming scene (or keep a picture of your “happy place” on your desk to look at while you’re breathing) or imagine good energy entering your body as you inhale and stress leaving your body on the exhale.

6. Listen to Some Music

If you can do so where you are, listen to some music that makes you feel good. Even better if you can dance around and literally get your blood pumping. Of course just taking a little mental break and maybe feeling a little silly does wonders for your attitude and can make you feel more energetic as well.

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7. Write it Down and Let it Go

If something in particular is draining your energy and you can’t deal with it right away, write down what’s bothering you. Acknowledge that you can’t deal with the problem right now, or if you can, do so. If it’s something completely beyond your control, recognize that. Then let go of the problem by tearing up what you wrote, sealing it in an envelope and throwing it away. Getting that thing off your mind and your chest will make it easier to focus on what you can do and what you need to be doing, which will make you feel more energetic.

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Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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