5 STEPS TO RECLAIM YOUR ENERGY RIGHT NOW!
Here are 5 simple, achievable ways, backed by science and human trial, that will supercharge your energy levels, lift your immunity, and protect your health, and you can start today!
- Bathe in Natural Light Every Morning
When I wake up, the first thing I do is find a way to say good morning to the sun and the natural world. I am lucky to live in a place where 80% of the time when I wake up, the sun is out, enough that I can feel its warmth and my preference is to sit with the souls of my feet connected to the earth, I close my eyes and soak in the morning light. (For those that are interested in practicing Pranayama, Gratitude, and Meditation, this is when I practice – which I have detailed in another post.) However, some of you may live in an apartment on the 20th floor, that’s OK, find a window, open it up, and if the weather is grey and grumbling outside, just sit in the warm glow through the glass, or even the cloud filtered light, close your eyes, smile gently and take some deep breaths. This simple step is medicine, pure medicine, I guarantee you will feel a positive shift in your mood and energy levels if you sustain this practice every morning, within a few days. What have you got to lose? This is powerful, accessible, and simple medicine with a guarantee of no grueling side effects.
Ideally aim to get sunlight on your skin, most especially your head during the first 30 minutes after you wake up. This is the best time of your day to get that light, as it sends a direct signal to your brain to say, it’s time to fire up the energy bank and all systems go, which helps you start the day with an energetic and alert mind and body.
In an ideal world, we should all get outdoors within 30 minutes of waking up, however, some of you may have a job where you may wake up before sunrise or you live in a place that’s mostly overcast for many months of the year. If this applies to you, I strongly recommend you buy a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp or bright light therapy device to closely mimic the sun/light that can signal to your brain, “it’s time to rise and shine”. There are many devices to research thesis days but if it helps, here are a few devices to choose from that come highly recommended:
For a slightly larger lamp with a stand – The Lumie Desk Lamp
For a smaller more discreet light – Fit First Light Lamp
- Make the bedroom a no-tech zone. Turn ‘em off and kick ‘em out!
This advice is now commonly known, however, I would also say is the easiest to ignore and let slide (with 3 companies to run I struggled to break this bad habit the most). However, I couldn’t ignore the clear research that highlighted the snowball effect this seemingly small habit created on my sleep health and thus overall mood, energy, and well-being. With my phone at arm’s reach I inevitably would check it, forget to put it on silent, use it as a torch to get to the bathroom etc… every time I exposed myself to the light, and then sometimes through curiosity the messages on the screen it would ignite a chain reaction unbeknownst to me at the time – it disrupts our hormonal shuffle that needs to happen before and during sleep for deep, healing sleep that allows for cellular regeneration. The key hormone players are our melatonin, prolactin, and growth hormone, which all play a part in the quality of our sleep. I fear there is a misconception that if we are in bed for the 7-8 hours as widely recommended, we can tick that box. Nooooo… we can be in bed for 8 hours and still get really poor sleep that fails to recharge and rejuvenate our bodies. It is not so much the quantity of sleep but the quality we also need to address. I would argue that 6 hours of deep, rejuvenating sleep is better than 9 hours of poor/disrupted sleep.
Worse still, I would usually pop my phone on charge up on my bedside table, sound familiar? With my research, I have since learned having the phone near my brain while I sleep was working against all my wellness goals. In fact, we should aim to keep our phones far from our brains for at least an hour
before sleep. Several studies have now shown that just the electromagnetic fields from these devices can
suppress melatonin secretion and disturb our circadian rhythm. So it’s not just the screens/light that most of us have been told about, it’s the mear physical presence of an electronic device close to our brains that disrupts our circadian rhythm and thus steals away our time for rejuvenation and healing for all our cells.
So, it’s simple really and thus should be a non-negotiable in our houses.
- Unplug all electronic devices and remove them from the bedroom at night when you go to bed.
- If you have a device needed for medical reasons or an alarm, try to keep them 6ft away from where you rest your head.
- Avoid watching TV or using a computer or tablet at least an hour or two before bed.
- Sleep in complete Darkness
Research is now showing us that even the smallest, tiniest lights or faint lights filtering through your curtains can have a measurable impact on your brain function, and if prolonged in some cases can lead to depression. It is well worth the effort and expense to ensure your bedroom is completely dark by
- Turning off any unnecessary lights in the room
- Using black tape to cover any small electronic lights on devices such as fire alarms, electric toothbrushes etc.
- Buy black-out curtains or blinds.
- If you still have light pollution out of your control, or when traveling – wear eye shades.
These steps will reward you tenfold by improving your sleep quality, brain function, mood, and energy levels.
- Use Blue/Green blocking glasses
Now, it’s all well and good to understand the proof and research behind not being on our screens so much, especially after the sun has set and we are gearing up for the best sleep we can get. BUT, putting this knowledge into practice does need more consideration, especially in this fast-paced, digital world many of us live in and depend on to feed ourselves and our families. If this speaks to you, and the occasional late-night project to meet a deadline is inevitable, then, well I can relate and…. I’ve got you! I found the answer to this problem in these simple yet effective “Blue blocking glasses” which I personally reach for more regularly than I would like (working progress) but they have helped me keep on top of my sleep health considerably.
These glasses help us get our work done without heavily compromising our circadian rhythm and thus sleep and thus overall well-being. Although ideally, they don’t become an everyday crutch to allow consistent late-night screen time, ideally they are there for the deadlines and unavoidable situations of late-night screen time/bright light exposure situations. Recent research has also shown that green wavelengths of light, which is delivered to us by the sun during the day, have a significant impact on the circadian clock in the brain, hence rule number one – Wake up for a sun bath.
By wearing these glasses you can eliminate the blue light from entering your eyes and disrupting your circadian clock by suppressing melatonin. So if you need to be on your computer, watching TV, or in bright indoor lighting, etc. then this will help.
Brands that come highly recommended at the moment are SafetyBlue and TrueDark. When choosing glasses it’s important to favour those that wrap all the way around the eye to avoid light leakage through the sides. Really effective. The Blue Blocking glasses also tend to have more red-tinted lenses to better block both the blue and the green light. If you wear these glasses around artificial light and screens after dark you will most likely immediately notice the difference in your sleep health. When my husband and I started wearing them, especially for the inevitable late-night work-athons or bright airports/travel lights we noticed that we got tired very quickly and both slept deeply. These late-night screen nights would often have us waking up a little groggy and tired, but we both felt energised and clear-headed the next morning. Granted – you look a little alien walking around the house, and the red-tone filters took a while to get used to, but like all these things they quickly become the norm. This is a super simple, effective, and powerful strategy for deeper, quality sleep at night and thus more energy in our days.
- Optimise your feeding window to amplify autophagy
Ok, well let’s start by fully understanding what we mean by Autophagy. Autophagy is a process that happens naturally in our cells, where the cell breaks down and recycles old, damaged or unnecessary components to create new ones. Think of it as a cellular “clean-up” mechanism. During autophagy, the cell forms a membrane around the targeted components and breaks them down into their basic building blocks, which can then be reused to make new cellular components. This process is important for maintaining cellular health and function, and it is involved in a variety of cellular processes, including development, immunity, and disease. Autophagy is regulated by a complex network of signaling pathways, and disruptions to these pathways have been seen to encourage a range of diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration, and metabolic disorders.
So you see, by disrupting our circadian rhythm, which dilutes our sleep quality which in turn represses autophagy, we are increasing the potential for many diseases. Autophagy occurs in our cells throughout the day. However, studies have shown that autophagy is particularly active during sleep. One reason for this is that during sleep, the body is in a state of rest and repair, we are not eating and our energy consumption is reduced. This allows cells to redirect energy and resources toward cellular maintenance and repair, including autophagy.
Another reason is that during sleep, the body produces higher levels of certain hormones and proteins that are involved in regulating autophagy, such as melatonin and growth hormone. These hormones and proteins help to stimulate autophagy and enhance its effectiveness. Overall, the increased activity of autophagy during sleep helps to remove damaged or unnecessary cellular components and prevent the accumulation of toxic substances in our cells. This, in turn, promotes healthy cellular function and can help to reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer and neurodegeneration.
Another way to help support effective autophagy is to shorten our feeding window to 10-11 hours daily. This can be achieved gradually by eating an earlier dinner or later breakfast, starting with just 15-30 minute shifts every few days until you reach at least a 10-11 hour feeding window. For example Breakfast at 9 am, lunch in between, and dinner at 7 pm (10-hour feeding window).
These steps above are ALL achievable and in reach for us all. We just need to focus on making them happen, baby steps are better than none at all. Some change is a win! Choose the step that you can most realistically apply today, and then once it’s a habit, move to the next. I promise you if you can consistently apply the five strategies above for a month, you will notice the shift in your energy, mood and life. These positive and happy rewards should be enough to fuel these habits into becoming your normal lifestyle. No time like today to start living your best, happiest, more energised life. Just start with these simple 5 steps.