Tired of Being Tired? Time To Power UP in September!

How do you fight fatigue, beat the blahs, and stimulate your stamina on a daily basis? As you might expect, the causes of fatigue are all over the map, so each week, we’ll hit another fatigue factor, show what it is, and what to do about it.

Don’t expect some set of miracle cures, or upselling some crazy, revolutionary, [insert over-the-top metaphor here] set of supplements that will instantly solve the problem.

The solutions you’ll get are lifestyle oriented, based on evidence-based outcomes across categories: nutrition, activity, and mindfulness.

So PERK UP, because answers are coming each week of this month.

Next Week:    Energy Boosters

2nd Week:      Energy Busters

3rd Week:       Getting Mental

4th Week:       Getting Physical

Just Bear In Mind:

There are many possible sources of fatigue, some of which can be addressed by lifestyle choices, where others will need to be addressed by a physician. Chronic exhaustion may be a sign of a condition such as:

Acute liver failure, Anemia, Anxiety disorders, Cancer, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic infection or inflammation, Chronic kidney disease, Concussion, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Depression (major depressive disorder), Diabetes, Emphysema, Fibromyalgia, Grief, Heart disease, Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain drugs, heart drugs and antidepressants, Multiple sclerosis, Obesity, Pain that’s persistent, Sleep apnea, Traumatic brain injury

(source: Mayo Clinic)

 

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Train your brain with routine

In our history, the machinery of the mind has been described to work like a hydraulic device, an automobile engine, a computer, and even a hologram. I’m sure that, as soon as we invent another amazing piece of technology, the brain will be compared to that as well.

But instead of thinking about what the brain is like, think about what it actually does. The nervous system is an amazing pattern detector that sets up the body to expect repeating rhythms — whether sensory, circadian, verbal, etc.

What does this have to do with your sleep? If you establish a rhythm to your sleep, the brain and body can detect that pattern and come to anticipate it, making it easier to fall asleep.

So, like your kids, establish a routine for yourself as well. This includes sleeping in the same place, and about the same time, each night. Think about this like training your brain. Once your set the regular pattern, your body and brain will align to this regular cycle, helping you get a better night’s sleep.

How To Sleep Like a Baby: Give yourself a stimulation “off-ramp”

Hyper-stimulation is a very modern problem, and one that we recognize in kids. From videos to video games and even the common rapid fire social media interactions, a barrage of sensory inputs can make it hard for them to calm down and get to sleep. 

But the same is just as true for adults. The same sensory overload seen in kids happens just as readily in adults. Much research is being done now to examine the effect of sensory overload — when one or more of the body’s senses experience environmental over-stimulation.

Outcomes of sensory overload can include anxiety, as well as symptoms of physical and mental stress. And all of this is detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep. So, just as with kids, give yourself “an off-ramp”. Analogous to an exit lane that slowly transitions you from one highway to another, give yourself a time period at the end of the day without electronic stimulation to help transition from waking to sleeping.

Your body will respond (over time) by recognizing the pattern. Then, when you start your wind-down at the end of a day, your nervous system will begin to anticipate what is coming, making the transition that much easier.    

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Food

Everyone knows about the “Halloween Effect.” Kids eat tons of candy, get wound up, and bounce off the walls. Most parents think that it’s the sugar that creates this effect, but it’s actually a combination of sugar and the artificial ingredients in most of those candies.

So, like your kids, don’t get all hopped up on foods that disturb your sleep. For adults, these include sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

First of all, caffeine can take between 4 to 6 hours to be processed by your body. So avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before you plan to go to bed. If you come to the end of an evening and would just love love love a cup of coffee to end the meal, just make it a decaf.

Sugar during and after your dinner can interfere with your sleep. Its impact on your insulin response system can create cravings that make it harder for you to stay asleep during any given evening. Cutting back on sugar is good for you for a hundred reasons, and now you can add your good night’s sleep to that list!

Alcohol is deceptive. At first it makes you sleepy, so it’s natural to think that it might be good for your sleep. But, this is actually not the case, because alcohol can interfere with your REM sleep waves, making them shorter in duration and shallower in depth. For you, this means you may fall asleep quickly, but you’re much more likely to be wide awake at 2:30 in the morning. So, if you have wine with your meal, for example, keep that to 1-2 glasses.

And despite the perpetual rumor that turkey (due to its amino acid tryptophan) will put you into a narcoleptic coma, this is just not true. So there are no foods that help facilitate sleep. But if you eat real food, in control, and keep away from the three sleep inhibitors above, you’ll increase your chances of sleeping well all night long.

How To Sleep Like A Baby: Activity

Do you ever wish your kids had a giant hamster wheel to burn off some of that energy. If they did you know they’d sleep so good when they got back home. Of course, timing is everything. If your uncle or sibling come over and really wind them up before bed, it’ll be just that much longer before they can get to sleep.

The same basic rules apply to us as well as our kids. Regular exercise is like taking a sleeping pill that is also a cholesterol lowering medicine, which is also a blood pressure medication, which also raises your energy level, and increases your lifespan.

There are a billion reasons to move more, but if you tend to sleep poorly, that’s one of the best. The impact that consistently sleeping better has on your life and lifestyle can be profound.

There are no good data showing whether one kind of activity is better than another — resistance activity vs aerobic exercise. Honestly the most important aspect is simply being consistent.

By the way, like your kids, timing matters. Exercise creates a short term elevation in heart rate, metabolism, and sympathetic nervous system activation (the part that stimulates the fight or flight reflex). This is great when you are being active, but if you expect to plop right into bed, that’s another matter. It’s a great idea to avoid exercise within 3 hours of bed time. In fact, a nice calm time leading up to bedtime is ideal to prepare your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.