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Americans are working longer than ever and sleeping less. Work has been replaced by sleep, according to a study that analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). Of the 124,000 people surveyed, those who slept less than six hours worked an extra 1.5 hours on weekdays and nearly two more hours on weekends and holidays. It is not surprising that work was the main activity that was replaced.
In a world where we're inundated with the constant hum of our smartphones, we're encouraged to be plugged in at any time of the day, so it's no surprise that many of us run with empty gas tanks. It's time to stop accepting fatigue as a new state of being. Here are five basic ways we can boost energy without increasing our coffee intake.
Make sure all of my clients use the sleep feature on their Fitbit device to measure not just length but their sleep stage as well. Try to get at least seven hours of good sleep each night. That means a mix of deep sleep (usually 10 to 20 percent of your sleep), REM sleep (20 to 25 percent), and light sleep (about 50 to 60 percent at night).
Some of my sleep-enhancing tips: don't take caffeine after noon, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, use blackout curtains, and make sure no light enters your room in the early morning. I've also found that having a white noise machine can really help me mask any ambient sounds and allow me to sleep deeper and longer.
Exercise is the best medicine for drowsiness and fatigue! Physical activity pumps your blood and triggers the release of chemicals called endorphins, which actually energize you. Exercise also helps promote sleep (reducing anxiety symptoms) and concentration, keeping you awake throughout the day. Get all my clients to take at least 12,000 steps a day, although 10,000 is a good goal too. I encourage outdoor walks if possible. In addition to improving mood and clearing your mind better than indoor exercise, outdoor exercise will also increase calorie burning because you are facing factors such as wind resistance.
Our phones are exhausting us. Between all the alarms, screen time, and blue light, we trick our brains into thinking it's daytime when it's actually nighttime, disrupting the sleep cycle by causing our brains to stop producing melatonin, a Hormones that cause our bodies to rest. Integrated technology doesn't have to be that expensive. First, I recommend turning off the blue light mode of your phone after 7pm. Apps like Twilight can help neutralize blue light when the sun goes down. Next, limit your daily screen time. The goal is to spend half the time scrolling what you're doing right now. Finally, take a break and leave (or better yet, turn off) all your tech devices for at least an hour each day.
I tell all my clients to eat three meals a day and two snacks. Every meal should contain at least a handful of lean protein, unlimited vegetables, up to a handful of whole grains or high-fiber fruits, and a thumb-sized amount of healthy fats. Not sure where to start your healthy eating plan? Get yourself on track with this 7-day kickstart program.
Many of us are in a state of constant dehydration, which can lead to burnout. I tell all my clients to drink electrolyte drinks when they come to my gym. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and chloride are lost through sweat, so it makes sense to replenish them after a particularly sweaty workout at the gym or on the track. Watch out for sports drinks with too much sugar - you need water and sodium, not added sugar! Then, I encourage my clients to stay hydrated by drinking at least 2 liters of water a day.