How to Improve Your Energy and Sleep

Strategies to Get Your Energy Back

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Can't seem to get enough rest? To-do list dragging you down? Hit refresh with these foods, moves, and must-dos for a more revved-up you.
By Mary Kate Frank

Wish you were still bounding out of bed like you did when you were 22? Who doesn't! But it can be hard to summon all your old verve in the midst of the daily grind.

"The main reason I see for loss of energy in women is that they have too much to do," says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic and founder of youbeauty.com. "There's a merry-go-round of caring for kids, caring for parents, working, and not paying attention to yourself or getting proper sleep."

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Sometimes there's a medical cause (like a vitamin deficiency or thyroid disorder) for a lack of energy. If you feel deeply fatigued all the time, schedule a checkup ASAP. But if your sluggishness is just a case of you on overload, the good news is that you can do something about it yourself. Here, Dr. Roizen and other health pros share strategies for putting the pep back in your step.

Sleep more soundly
Although it's true that you naturally begin to sleep more lightly in your mid-40s — a result of changes in brain waves as you age — you can start having trouble catching zzz's much sooner. "I've got patients who at age 30 are sleeping like 60-year-olds because of stress," says Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Sleep Doctor's Diet Plan.

A good night's rest is essential to waking up fully energized. Learn a few simple steps to snooze smarter after the break:

Sniff some lavender. In a recent study of women with insomnia, those who received lavender aromatherapy in the evenings had significantly improved sleep quality. Try putting lavender oil in an aromatherapy ionizer and sniffing the scent for 20 minutes before bedtime.

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Take a hot bath. Sleep comes most easily when your core temperature drops, explains Phyllis Zee, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University. But if your hands and feet are cold, your core holds onto heat. Taking a bath warms your extremities, so your body gets the message to start cooling itself.

Lose the blues. In the spectrum of natural light, blue wavelengths have the biggest impact on our circadian rhythm, slowing production of the hormone melatonin, which Breus describes as "the key that starts the engine to sleep." But avoiding blue light at night can be hard. Today's energy-efficient lighting tends to be bluer than older bulbs; the screens now common in laptops and tablets can emit more than twice as much blue light as older models. Turn off tech after dinner; dim lights an hour before you hit the sack.

Snack smarter

First, the obvious: "You won't have energy if you skip meals," says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. "It's like trying to run a car without gas." During the day, eat every four hours — wait any longer than that and your body feels "zapped," Gans says. Her rule for the perfect snack? Aim for less than 200 calories, and include a mix of carbs (for an instant pickup), fiber (to fill you up), and protein (for lasting energy).

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Source: Thinkstock
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