Feeling tired too much of the time? Feeling pretty good in the morning, but fighting a serious slump in the afternoon between 2:00pm and 4:00pm? I’ve experienced days where I thought I could literally fall asleep standing up–and it usually hit me around 3:30pm. It’s one of the main reasons I did food-sensitivity testing, “went Paleo”, gave up gluten (95% of the time), etc. In the end, I think I was getting exhausted in the afternoon because my energy stores were simply too depleted by that time. My body essentially had nothing to draw on. I have taken specific and deliberate measures to change the situation, but I still have some pretty sluggish afternoon moments.
So many of us find ourselves overstretched on our commitments and overtaxed on everything else, especially in America where most jobs don’t abide by the 9-5 rule. Whether real or perceived, many people I know feel they’re expected to work 70+-hour weeks. Commutes have become longer and more stressful. I think mothers suffer the most… In many cases, even if they’re career women, they’re expected to work full-time and take care of the kids and the home, participate in school, etc. And moms who have quit or taken a break from their careers aren’t exempt. They’re often expected to volunteer significant hours at school, serve on non-profit boards, plan fundraisers, while raising the kids and taking care of the home.
Daily and chronic fatigue can result from many things, and what other expect of us and what we expect of ourselves is another discussion, but consider these common, relatively easy to remedy, causes of tiredness:
One of the most common causes of fatigue, is also one of the easiest to remedy. When your body doesn’t have enough fluid in it, your blood thickens making it harder for your body to get oxygen to your cells for ultimate functioning. Aim for 8-11 cups a day of filtered water, herbal tea or natural coconut water. Just take care to avoid too much caffeine (the relatively small amount in green tea is fine) or caffeinated drinks enjoyed too late in the day where they could disrupt your sleep. And beware of drinks containing too much sugar–including many juices and some smoothies, which will only cause your insulin level to spike and your energy to crash.
I like energy-boosting teas, such as Yogi Tea’s Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy with black tea, green mate, ashwagandha root and ginseng.
Snack on whole foods that provide quick energy along with plenty of nutrients. For example, pumpkin seeds give you…. I’m not a huge fan of seeds, but spiced pumpkin seeds are delicious, and offer just enough saltiness and zing to make them practically addictive. Try the recipe below from the ZenBelly Cookbook. A banana is a perfect mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up snack. In addition to three natural sugars, bananas contain fiber so you get an instant and sustained boost of energy.
Unless you’re strictly Paleo, be sure to consume a healthy portion of whole grains at lunch–barley, millet and quinoa are all good choices (unless, of course, you have an allergy to quinoa like I developed three years ago). Whole grains offer a sustained source of energy.
Have a low-sugar and nutrient-dense bar or slice of bread on hand for when he hunger pains strike or you start to feel drowsy. I like to make my own food, so I rarely buy “energy” bars, but there are some good ones available now that provide plenty of protein and fiber without a ton of sugar. I prefer to have a slice of grain-free bread such as the “loaded banana bread” from the ZenBelly Cookbook. I’ll be posting my modified recipe in the next few days.
Sleep and body function
If you constantly feel overly tired, consider getting tested for thyroid dysfunction or hormonal imbalances. Avoid any screens at least an hour before you aim to go to sleep or buy yourself a pair of amber lenses that block blue light (and use them!). Also be sure to fall asleep by 10:30pm–latest, to work with your circadian rhythms for improved sleep and brain function.
Make sure you get regular exercise, which studies show improves energy and sleep quality. Regular exercise also boosts mood, helps balance hormones and serves as a great stress reliever. So many people think they can’t make time for it, but exercise enables you to do more more efficiently–in other words, it uses time but actually buys you time. And even though my friends would call me a hypocrite to hear me say this, make time to relax and recharge your inner batteries.
Recipe from Zenbelly, although I slightly upped the amounts on all the ground spices.
1 1/2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp lemon, orange or lime juice
3/4 tsp finely ground sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp coconut sugar
Preheat oven the 375F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Toss well to combine.
Spread on the prepared sheet and bake for 5 -7 minutes, or until the seeds become crisp and slightly puffed. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The seeds keep for weeks, but if they lose a little crunch, you can reheat them in a 350F oven for 2-3 minutes.
Be well and full of energy!