If you consider yourself a health enthusiast, chances are you already have some good habits in place to help boost your energy. Maybe you start your day with a green smoothie, you drink lots of water and you exercise. For some strange reason though, your energy is still lacking. Perhaps it's that you feel sluggish waking up in the morning, or it could be that you experience the dreaded afternoon slump.
A factor that can often be overlooked is routine. Do you have one? Do you go to bed at the same time most nights? Do you wake up at a similar time each morning? Do you eat your meals around the same time each day?
Routine and timing of daily habits have not only a physical importance but also a mental and emotional component, all of which are important determinants of your energy levels.
In the first place, you naturally operate on a circadian rhythm, which is your body's biological clock that runs on a rough 24 hour cycle. Your circadian rhythm includes patterns in brainwaves, hormone production and even the regeneration of cells. Changes in your routine or a lack of routine at all can make it very difficult for your body to maintain its circadian rhythm, responsible for appetite, energy, mood and sleep.
When your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can actually increase the chances of depression. For example, producing melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, during the day instead of at night, can cause you to feel moody, tired and irritable. These disruptions have also been shown to impact blood sugar and insulin production, both of which can result in energy dips.
As for the mental and emotional components, a routine helps you know what to expect, thereby creating an aspect of security and safety. This is one of the main reasons it's so important for children to have a routine, and while we emphasize it for kids, it shouldn't be forgotten for adults either. Routine also provides a sense of control. Control, safety and security are all factors that help reduce stress levels, something that can be a major energy draw. In today's world, it's important to practice as many stress reducing habits as possible.
Finally, when a habit becomes your routine, it also saves the internal debate that happens as to when and whether you should do something. Life is full of decisions, so one or two less leaves more room for other, more important decisions to be made.
As a nutritionist, I challenge you to set a routine that will work for you and see just how much better you can feel.
- Choose a waking time that works for you all week, ideally between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.
- Eat breakfast within 45 minutes of waking.
- Eat your meals and snacks at the same time each day, give or take 30 minutes.
- Prepare for and go to sleep at the same time each day, ideally between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
If you happen to travel frequently and change time zones often, supplementing with three milligrams of melatonin right before bed on the first night of your trip can be helpful to shift to the new time zone.
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