Hormones, sleep patterns and dietary decisions all have an impact on how our energy levels peak and trough. What’s more, because your body temperature naturally dips between 2pm and 4pm, our circadian rhythm can increase the urge to enjoy a power nap – an ideal solution if you can schedule in 20 minutes of restorative shut eye, but less practical for women juggling the daily demands of kids, a career and caring for elderly parents. So, if an afternoon reset is something you can only dream of, here’s 20 easy hacks from the experts that will help you reboot.
1 Supercharge your sleep
“A sleep debt has serious effects on your productivity and efficiency,” warns Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Pharmacy. “One easy way to redress your sleep debt is to go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier every night. This will help to reset your circadian rhythms (your natural body clock), which is vital for your body’s metabolic and physiological processes.” Health coach Kathryn Danzey also advises switching off electronic items “at least an hour before bed to restrict your exposure to blue light,” which is known to disrupt natural sleep patterns.
2 Turn to turmeric
This golden spice is famed for its anti-inflammatory properties, but Sarah Strang, an adaptogen health pro and founder of Tea & Tonic, also advocates its bioactive compounds for promoting a daily boost. “The curcuminoids in turmeric are the star here,” she says, referring to studies that link curcuminoids with increased brain power. “Look out for turmeric blended with black pepper as this optimises the absorption of curcumin by up to 2,000 percent.” Just lace your stews, teas, or warm milk with this powerhouse antioxidant to upgrade your energy.
3 Boost your breakfast
“Don’t eat cereal first thing,” flags leading nutritionist Louise Lewis. “Instead, have something like eggs with wholegrain toast and avocado with a sprinkle of seeds, or soak oats and chia seeds in a plant-based milk overnight and top with blueberries and seeds in the morning. This will fill you up for far longer and will help keep your energy up.”
4. Wake, then walk
How you spend the first 30 minutes of your day is crucial to controlling energy levels, says Mark Roper, a fitness expert at Coach London. “Try to expose yourself to natural light first thing; getting our bodies outside is one of the best things we can do to improve energy levels because it regulates our body’s internal clock.”
5. Try brain-friendly fungi
Can fungi really fix brain fog? According to Fran McElwaine, a functional medical practitioner at Real Health and Wellness, lion’s mane (a mushroom that can be taken as a supplement) “supports brain function and neurological health” and has “been proven to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor”. The upshot? “A reduction in brain fog and greater focus.”
6. Hit peak hydration
We all know drinking water is important, but Kathryn Danzey – a nutritionist and health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition – reiterates that fatigue is caused by dehydration. “Even a small reduction in optimum levels can cause tiredness. In one study, a mere 1.59 percent in fluid loss caused poor memory function, anxiety and fatigue, so try keeping a filled water bottle by your side and reach for it before a cup of tea or coffee. I always recommend incorporating an electrolyte hydration drink into your daily regime, too.”
7. Ferment your food
A healthy gut has long been linked to improving your overall wellbeing, which is why Dr Sarah Schenker, Vadasz dietitian and nutritionist, believes fermented foods are a key component to achieving long-lasting energy. “Consuming fermented foods has been shown to significantly improve gut dysbiosis… [boosting your] mood, behaviour and energy levels,” she adds. Our tip? Try adding kimchi or a cup of kombucha to your morning routine for a hit of rejuvenating properties.
8. Cook with coconut oil
Women’s health expert Nicki Williams champions cooking with coconut oil if you want to boost your productivity. “It’s a good fat that won’t make you fat,” she says. “Plus, it helps to increase your metabolism, which gives you energy – in fact, it’s one of the most healthy oils to cook with and you can also add it to smoothies for a quick-fix energy boost when you’re flagging.”
9. Scent your surroundings
According to Suzy Glaskie – a health coach and host of the Wellness Unwrapped podcast – treating yourself to an aromatic candle or diffuser is far from pure indulgence. “Diffusing particular essential oils has been shown to improve performance and stimulate the brain,” she says. “One study found that rosemary essential oil decreased typing errors by 33 percent, while peppermint keeps us alert and has also been shown to help improve memory.”
10. Cut the caffeine
Coffee addicts, listen up: “It’s temping to reach for pick-me-up shots when you’re super-busy,” sympathises Dr Marion Gluck, a specialist in hormonal and female health. “But while coffee may help you get the job done, it comes at the health of your adrenal glands. Caffeine increases cortisol production; under stress, your adrenal glands (responsible for cortisol production) are actually in need of a rest.” Try herbalteas instead for a pick me up.