You know how on some days you wake up brimming with energy (or at least that energy finally kicks in after an hour or so)? Then, on other days you can’t seem to get lift-off no matter how many cups of whatever-cino you down?
Well, like most things, hormones have a powerful effect on your energy level.
Generally speaking, once your period peters out, the first half of your cycle is the one where you’re peppy thanks to rising estrogen.
And the second half of your cycle is when it takes a bit more effort to get out of bed and keep up your momentum due to lower estrogen and sedating progesterone.
So, Jayme, a Hormonology newsletter reader, recently asked me for tips “to combat the fog as much as possible” on these low-energy days.
As a health journalist, I’ve written numerous articles about study-proven–and fairly easy–ways to rev energy so you can keep your motor running even when you don’t have hormonal help to push you along.
Here are 9 of my favorite energy-boosters to help you get through low-ebb days in your monthly cycle:
1. Exercise. Whether you take a brisk walk, hop on a bike or lift weights, physical movement gets the blood pumping through your body and brain, clearing the cobwebs and revving momentum.
2. Drink one to two cups of caffeinated tea or coffee–in tiny sips throughout the day rather than in gulps. Research shows a small, steady intake of caffeine blocks the build-up of a drowsiness-inducing brain chemical (adenosine) more effectively than large gulps, keeping you alert longer.
3. Eat dark chocolate. This is probably most people’s favorite energy-boosting tip. It works because dark chocolate (the darker the better) is rich in natural compounds that send a surge of energizing blood to the brain, according to various studies including this one. This sweet treat also releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that lift mood and rev alertness.
4. Nap. I know this one’s difficult because of people’s busy schedules. But, even a very short nap–preferably between 1 and 4 pm–can be extremely reviving, numerous studies show. Bonus: Napping also eases a grumpy premenstrual mood, according to a study from the University of Ottawa, likely by making up for a lousy night’s sleep caused by plunging estrogen. Tip: Avoid naps longer than one hour because this actually increases mental fog by pushing you into deeper stages of sleep, so when you wake up, you feel groggy, not revived.
5. Bask in sunlight–or a blue light bulb. Natural light is proven to rev alertness in many studies. But, what if you sit in a windowless room or live in a cloudy area? Try swapping a light bulb you sit near during daylight hours with one that has a slightly blue hue–like the GE Reveal or Chromalux Full Spectrum (available at Home Depot, Amazon and Walmart). This mimics natural sunlight, which helps rev mental energy, according to a study in the journal PLOS ONE. Just be sure not to use it in the evening or at night since this blue light may block the production of melatonin–a hormone that helps you sleep.
6. Pop CoQ10. I take 100 mg. of coenzyme Q10 three times per day for both migraine prevention and a boost in energy. This is a vitamin-like substance that our body naturally makes and helps rev energy by fueling the mitochondria in our body’s cells, which are like the power plants that give us pep. However, we make less and less of CoQ10 as we age, which could contribute to us slowing down. Several studies, including this one, suggest that replenishing your body’s stores of CoQ10 boosts flagging energy back up.
7. Pop a multivitamin. Add a multivitamin with iron to your daily supplement regimen and you’ll feel perkier within a month, suggests research from Northumbria University. That’s because getting additional vitamins and minerals helps make up for a lack of nutritious foods in your current diet–which, in turn, helps your body and brain perform a lot better.
8. Chew gum. Whenever I get in the car, I pop a stick of gum in my mouth before I pull out of the driveway. That’s because numerous studies, including this one, prove that chewing gum boosts alertness and reduces stress within minutes. The minty and cinnamon flavors seem to work best, but ultimately any gum will work since researchers think the rhythmic chewing boosts blood flow to the brain while also helping to prompt the production of calming brain chemicals.
9. Drink up. A study in the Journal of Nutrition that found women with mild dehydration–not even enough to notice you’re thirsty–become listless and grouchy. (A separate study conducted by the same research team found the same holds true for men, too.) The link? The brain and body need a certain amount of fluids to run all their many processes at peak performance. And researchers speculate that fatigue ad irritability are alarm bells alerting you that your tank is getting low and it’s time to start sipping. By drinking water, seltzer, juice, tea or any other liquid other than alcohol, you’ll restore your body’s fluid level and, subsequently, your energy.
Hope these 9 tips help you perk up on low-pep days! Let me know if you have a favorite energy-boosting trick you use!
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