3 Natural Ways to Increase Energy When You’re Pressed for Time

We’re all busy and many of us burn our candles at both ends.

We might think we don’t have the time to be healthy, so we find ourselves stuck in a cycle of fatigue, stress, fluctuating weight, etc. 

All of which zaps our energy, reduces our focus and efficiency, and, ironically, increases the time it takes to do what needs to be done!

Here are 3 natural steps to increase your energy levels when you’re pressed for time. The key here is that taking these steps will give you more energy and allow you to do more.

Three natural ways to increase energy when you're pressed for time

1. Improve sleep quality

Sleep is one of the first things we sacrifice when we’re busy.

However, sleep is also critical to recharging your body and keeping your energy up so you can actually do what’s on your schedule; in fact research shows that lack of sleep is a key factor in fatigue (1).  

And, to make it worse, lack of sleep is linked to just about every other illness (e.g., obesity, heart disease , diabetes) you want to avoid (2) .

How much sleep do you need? Most healthy adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night (3)

“Seven hours of sleep,” you say. “Where is that going to come from, have you seen my calendar?”

One simple step is to turn off the lights thirty minutes earlier than normal. Most of us can spare that time. But, what if it’s difficult to increase your sleep time right now?

If you’re really pressed for time, let’s start by making the sleep time you are getting better quality sleep.

Try these steps before bedtime to improve your sleep quality:

  • No electronics (phones, screens, social media) before bedtime. This is directly linked to poor sleep quality and increased fatigue through the next day (4). 
  • Wind down from the day before bedtime – e.g., read or meditate to take yourself from the office to a happy, peaceful place so you’re relaxed going to bed (5).
  • Sleep in a dark room (6). This makes a big impact. Your body produces melatonin at night, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Even a mild amount of light can interrupt melatonin secretion, ruining you’re sleep.

SUMMARY

If you feel tired during the day, check your sleep time. Healthy adults need seven hours daily. Try turning the lights out thirty minutes earlier. However, If you can’t spare that time today, you can still take steps to improve the quality of the sleep you are getting. You’ll have more energy.

2. Take small steps to healthy eating

Healthy eating is a big topic with lots of questions to answer: What’s a healthy diet and the best time to eat? How do you eat healthy on the road? Can you drink alcohol and be healthy? And on and on.

Ideally, you would eat for your specific body type and lifestyle. All of us have different metabolisms, genes and lifestyles so it only makes sense that each person’s diet fits his/her body and life (7).

However, if you’re not at the point of looking at your entire diet and eating patterns, here are steps you can take today to eat healthier and get your energy levels up:

  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals is actually stressful for your body and stress is a major cause of fatigue (8)
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. “But I really like my coffee in the morning and my glass of wine with dinner,” you say. 
    • Okay, keep your drinks to 3 per week, or try to cut back one drink per week (or every two weeks). Alcohol will keep you awake at night and reduce your energy levels (9).
    • And don’t drink coffee after 3pm. The caffeine will stay in your body and disrupt your sleep (10).
  • Switch out the sugary snacks with healthier, yet still tasty snacks. Let’s eliminate the mid afternoon sugar rush and crash (11)
    • Instead of that candy bar, try an apple with some almond butter, or some raw almonds and a greek yogurt.
    • Your body will get good clean fuel (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) with no sugar rollercoaster.

SUMMARY

The best diet is one based on your body type and lifestyle needs. If you’re not ready to review your whole diet, focus on eating regular meals, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol and avoiding sugar to keep up your energy.

3. Drink more water

Most of us do not drink enough water, and we’re not aware it’s an important factor in fatigue (12), reduced cognitive function and even bad moods (13).

Our bodies are made of upwards of 75% water (14). During the day, you lose water through sweat and urine and breathing. Some signs of dehydration include a dry mouth, dry skin, and dark urine (15).

To stay hydrated, first, make sure you drink when you’re thirsty. An additional rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day. Drink your first two glasses early in the morning to rehydrate your body after sleeping.

Fruit drinks, sugar free soda, carbonated water, tea and coffee do not count. If you exercise, then you’ll need even more water. Ideally, you want to work up to drinking half your body weight in water each day. The best water to drink is spring water, however any clean tap water works well too.

Some issues you may have with drinking more water:

  • You don’t like drinking water or you’re not accustomed to drinking as much water as you need. Start by keeping track of how much water you drink and when, and then add one to two glasses per day per week to ease into it.
  • You don’t have regular access to water because of travel, running to meetings, location, etc. One solution is to invest in a durable, high quality water bottle you can easily carry with you during the day (16).

SUMMARY

You need to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue. If you don’t drink enough water and feel fatigued, this is an easy remedy to get you back on track.

Three natural steps to give you more energy

Getting the proper sleep, eating right and drinking enough water are basic steps to take today to get a boost in your energy level. They don’t require much time to implement, and your increased energy will improve your focus and efficiency.

As always, check with your doctor if your fatigue is chronic or gets worse. At a minimum you should have an annual physical exam.

If making a big change is too much for you, then take small steps, so your body and mind can get accustomed to the new habits. As long as you’re headed in the right direction you’ll start to feel better!

Greg Porto is a partner in myMetabolix , a St. Louis based wellness company helping executives stay healthy while meeting the demands of their lifestyle.