Struggling to get out of bed in the morning, feeling drained at noon, or finding that you lack the brain power to finish that report with a 3.00pm deadline? You find yourself asking “Why are my energy levels so low?”
It’s no wonder at all with the amount of artificial light that we are exposed to. Prior to the invention of electricity, our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ sleep patterns would mimic the movements of the sun. Today? We try to squeeze so much into our working day, extending daylight hours using room light. Then responding to messages which appear on bright LCD screens – no matter what the time is. This is completely out-of-sync with our circadian rhythm – our natural body clock. It’s detrimental effects can be seen in broken sleep, less sleep and/ or reduced quality of sleep. Further to this, full insomnia is one of the most common sleeping disorders not helped by our modern day always on environment.
Sleep is King
Over the course of the day our biological clock suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone which triggers the urge to sleep. During a normal working day, this is particularly useful as it helps us to remain productive. In fact, increasing the natural light to which you’re exposed does wonders for your ability to stay awake and on the ball.
However, in the evening when we should be winding down and the body would otherwise start to increase the production of melatonin so that we feel sleepy (at around 9.00pm), artificial light tampers with this natural mechanism. Precisely when we want to be overcome by the sensation of fatigue. The minute we get home from work after dark and start turning on all the lights, scrolling through our social media feeds and watching TV, we begin to override the natural process which should govern our natural sleep-wake cycle for optimal quality sleep. Simply because the artificial light suppresses the onset of the release of melatonin.
Blue light in particular, emitted from all of the technological devices we use, has the most significant effect on our circadian rhythm, sleep quality and sleep cycles. Melatonin is a mood-enhancer, which can make us both more alert and focused when completing tasks. So, in effect, your devices are tricking your body into thinking you have a full day ahead of you. That’s why you can end up staying up 1, 2, even 3 hours beyond the time you should be going to bed each night!
You are What you Eat
Literally, you are what you eat. Your diet and nutrition plays a huge role in your energy levels. Modern processed foods are often high in salt and added sugar and low in fresh ingredients. The foods you choose to eat are essential to maximise your energy levels. This is a whole topic in itself!
That said, all of the stress which you put your body through before getting to bed can leave your endocrine system completely overworked. This may be the reason behind your low energy levels. It is common for people to get stuck in a routine of sleeping insufficiently and boasting about it as though it were something to be proud of. Eating on-the-go for lack of time in the mornings, with little thought as to the nutritional content of the food you grab, is another consequence of not sleeping properly. No wonder we are so exhausted! In order to restore or boost your energy levels, you need to begin implementing self-care measures. At a basic level these include:
But, if you’re ready to learn more about how to regain control over your routine for much more energy, be sure to look out for our energy blog part 2 next week.