Before you reach for another cup of coffee, try our expert life hacks
Ugh. Your alarm clock has gone off and there’s no way your ready to carpe diem. You’re feeling short on sleep. And it’s not Saturday or Sunday, so you can’t just hit the snooze alarm and linger in a bed.
Where do you get the energy to battle through the fatigue and get on with your day?
We’ve found it!
Our experts have chimed in with their best tips and tricks sure to put some pep in your step again – without relying on a jumbo cup of coffee.
1. Tap into yoga-inspired breathing
Just the simple act of yoga breathing can wake up your brain and get you going, according to Anita Perry, a yogi who practices in Massachusetts. She suggests nostril breathing – simply inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Start with four counts in, hold for four, then exhale for four.
Or try the Sitali breath, which is handy to do on exertions or when you need to dial back your stress quotient. Inhale through your nose, moving your breath to the back of your throat, and exhale making an audible sound like a Darth Vader sound. As a bonus, it brings warmth to the chest area. See a video for this technique: YogaForAll.
Finally, take a leadership position with this type of nostril breathing to help balance both sides of the brain – made famous by Hillary Clinton. Extend your thumb and forefinger on your right hand. Block the right nostril with the thumb and inhale left. Block the left with the forefinger and exhale right.
2. Power up with a nap
Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse from New York City and founder of RemediesForMe.com, a site that focuses on natural remedies, is a believer in short power naps. “They optimize productivity levels, improve mood, boost overall health, and increase alertness and memory,” she says.
Researchers have studied the ideal time you need to nap to yield the best productivity. Four different nap intervals of 5, 10, 20, and 30 minutes were studied and the 10-minute nap was proven to yield the best results. Improvements were seen in sleepiness, fatigue, vigor, work performance and mental clarity. Keep in mind that the best time to take a nap is in the late morning and early afternoon. Naps too late in the day can interfere with the body’s natural internal clock.
3. Do a desk workout
When a nap is out of the question, Lee recommends using a stepping device that can be slid slide easily underneath the desk and out of sight. It is inexpensive, nearly silent and can be used while sitting or standing. The movements of the device replicate similar movements to walking. One study showed that a stepping device can lead to a weight loss of up to 44 lbs per year if sitting is replaced for just 2 hours a day. It also found that office-place stepping and cycling increases an employee’s energy levels more than walking.
4. Take your exercise outside for at least 21 minutes
Exercise boosts energy and adrenaline levels. There have been numerous studies on the effects of exercise on the body and mind.
Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that exercising at least 21-minutes each day can release enough endorphins to decrease stress, increase energy and improve mood. Exercise also helps to increase alertness and concentration and aids against sleep disturbances. The best time to get moving? The morning – the energy you glean lasts several hours and may even get you past that early afternoon slump. If you can’t get outside before work, walk for at least 21 minutes at lunch and get a good dose of vitamin D.
5. Get a boost from essential oils
Erica Jones, a natural beauty expert with her masters in health sciences and founder, Elevays.com, says to forget the caffeine and sugar and reach for something that will give you the energy boost you need. Without the side effects. She suggests using peppermint, wild orange and rosemary essential oil to combat an energy dip.
“Peppermint can revive your senses when the alarm clock goes off in the morning and you want to hit the snooze,” says Jones. “Whether you were out too late with friends or you were up rocking a teething baby, peppermint will do the trick. Inhale a drop or two of peppermint in your palms to wake up in the morning.”
Instead of reaching for that sugary mid-afternoon snack or energy drink, reach for wild orange essential oil and dab a few drops to your palms and inhale deeply several times.
When you’re feeling totally broken down, look to rosemary essential oil in a diffuser through the day or applied topically by mixing it with a carrier oil like coconut or olive.
6. Fuel up at breakfast
When you’re sleep deprived, it’s essential to eat a well-balanced breakfast, says Sydney Ziverts, a health and nutrition investigator with ConsumerSafety.org. Be sure to eat a combination of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Healthy fats should help with satiety over the course of the day. Stay away from foods high in fat and sugar. They’ll initially make you feel energized, but you’ll crash and become sluggish more quickly.
7. Chew on this
Can just a wad of gum help? Yes, it can. Experts from the US National Library of Medicine have concluded that chewing gum can help combat daytime sleepiness. Even if only a slight effect, researchers determined that self-rated sleepiness was reduced when chewing gum, so keep a pack handy, Ziverts recommends. Mint can also stimulate nerve fibers to give you an afternoon boost without the negative side effects of caffeine.
8. Get moving with some chair yoga
Try these easy, at-work moves from Nancy Gerstein, a yoga teacher, author of Guiding Yoga’s Light. She uses these mostly yoga-based techniques for staying awake at her office job.
Practice forward bends in your chair. Wake up your brain with some fresh blood flow by bending forward and dropping your head between your legs. Hold here for several breaths.
Or do a gentle chair twist. Wring your spine free of stale energy that’s causing you to feel sleepy by sitting up tall in your chair. Upon exhaling, twist your hips, rib cage, shoulders and neck to the right. Take three deep breaths then repeat on the left.
Give your face a gentle slap and scratch your head to bring sensation back into your tired eyes and temples. Use your fingertips to rub your scalp and back of your neck. Feel the tingle!