The only thing more frustrating than feeling exhausted all the time is feeling exhausted all the time and not knowing why. On paper, you're doing everything right when it comes to your sleep habits: You get your full eight hours most nights, you keep your room dark and cool, you fall asleep to a good book rather than Netflix or Instagram, and you spray your bed liberally with a pillow mist every single evening. Yet the fatigue never subsides.
In truth, while sleep may be the primary factor here, it isn't the only one. Things like your diet, your hormone levels, and your physical fitness all have a hand as well—and if one of these outliers is out of balance, it could manifest in daily tiredness. And while reaching for a cup of coffee might seem like the obvious quick fix, it could be making matters worse. So what are these factors affecting your energy levels, and how can you strategise around them? We spell it out below so you can finally stop yawning.
The problem: You're drinking too much coffee.
Look, we loooove coffee. It's a major source of antioxidants, and it's a beautiful thing to (literally) wake up to every morning. The problem is that when we drink it in excess, our bodies become dependent on it. In fact, surveys show that when people lessen their coffee intake or give it up altogether, they're actually less tired in the morning.
Another caveat: If your energy fades within a few hours, you might be tempted to reach for another cup—which not only continues this cycle but could disrupt your sleep without your realising. The solution? Try to stick with just a cup or two first thing in the morning, and at the very least, cut yourself off by noon. Also consider making your daily brew Bulletproof-style: If you mix a fat like grass-fed butter or coconut oil into your coffee, your body digests the caffeine more slowly, giving you a more sustained energy burn throughout the day. A cup of matcha has a similar effect.
The problem: Your hormones are out of whack.
While hormonal imbalances are common, they're also tricky to diagnose. Yet adrenal fatigue is often the culprit behind inexplicable daily exhaustion, says London-based GP Jane Leonard, MBChB. Our adrenal glands help produce hormones and regulate our "fight-or-flight" response, she says, and daily stress can put those functions completely out of balance.
In a recent meeting I had with Moon Juice's Amanda Chantal Bacon, she concurred: "The worst part," she said, "is that often you don't even realise you're stressed—it just manifests itself in physical ways." Exhaustion being chief among them. There are a few ways to tackle this, primarily by ironing out any daily tensions in your life (more on that in a minute).
But one thing I've found that really works for me is taking adaptogenic herbs, which help regulate and balance the body's natural stress response on a pretty powerful level. Maca is one of these foods, and just taking a teaspoon twice a day has seriously done wonders for my energy.
The problem: You're not relaxing enough.
It's important to nip stress right in the bud. That means beginning to adopt daily rituals you know relax your mind and body, even if you're feeling great. This is obviously personal, so you do you, whether that's journaling, heading to yoga, taking a few minutes to meditate or listening to your favourite record. Either way, the point is to be proactive, not reactive, about daily stress. This way when obstacles do come your way, your mind and body are better equipped to handle them—and your energy doesn't take a hit.
The problem: You're not getting enough daily nutrients.
In addition to impacting how well you sleep, an imbalanced diet can mess with your energy levels. Fatigue is usually your body's way of telling you it needs something, and it could very well be some necessary vitamins and nutrients. Scientists believe that there's a link between rising rates of chronic fatigue and poor diet, and often the fix is simple: Avoid processed foods whenever possible, stay away from too much sugar (which is often the culprit behind a mid-afternoon crash) and try to maintain a healthy balance of fats, protein and carbs. Even if you try going back to basics for just a few days, you might be surprised by how much better you feel. (And if you want to be extra sure you're meeting your daily vitamin requirements, consider taking a supplement.)
The problem: You're dehydrated.
If you're not hydrating enough, fatigue is often one of the first symptoms—and inversely, studies show that focus and energy levels improve when we're drinking enough water. So get that H2O in you.
The problem: You're not exercising enough.
There's tons of research that connects a consistent fitness routine with higher energy. One study even showed that cancer patients' symptoms improved when they began exercising more. We can also vouch for this from experience, so if you aren't already, consider breaking a sweat on most days during the week—even if that just means taking a walk during your lunch hour. ■
With these six tricks you'll feel more energised in no time.