Ever wonder why you wake up brimming with energy one day, but then on other days can’t shake off a brain fog no matter how many cups of caffeine you chug?
One key reason is what your hormones are doing that day. When estrogen is rising, so, too, does your pep. When estrogen falls, your energy goes south with it. But, then there’s the whole matter of progesterone, which can nix your zip even on days when estrogen is climbing!
Confused? Not to worry. Here’s your Hormonology Guide to Energy that shows you exactly what your energy level will be like each week of your monthly cycle.
This way, you can plan your week or month better by syncing up high-intensity activities with high-pep days and low-intensity activities with low-pep days.
Or, when you can’t sync up your activities with your monthly cycle, you can anticipate the hormonal hurdles affecting your energy and compensate for them.
Or, you can simply have peace of mind knowing that when your pep is flying off the charts or you’re more tired than a sloth after a big lunch, it’s just your hormones.
Okay, ready to find out all about your energy? Here’s what you can expect from your pep each week of your cycle:
Week 1: Slow lift-off, buzzy finish
Day 1 (first day of period) to Day 7
There’s no doubt about it–for many women, the first few days of your period can be a real drag on your energy level. That’s because you’ve got a few things against you: Though estrogen is climbing, it starts off super-low; iron loss during menstruation can put you in a stupor; and, the pain of menstrual cramps deals the final blow to your pep.
However, within a few days (maybe even sooner), you’ll notice your energy start to take off as estrogen slowly rises.
You’ll feel this zippy effect even faster if you take an iron supplement and/or eat iron-rich foods to make up for the iron loss and if you quiet menstrual cramps with your favorite menstrual cramp remedy.
By the end of your Week 1, most of you will be feeling a full surge in estrogen-fueled energy.
And some may actually feel a bit too buzzy–perhaps, having a bit of jitteriness or an on-edge feeling–from the sudden rise in this hormone. If that’s the case with you, obviously it’s wise to steer clear of stimulants, like caffeine and nicotine. If you need to take the edge off, try exercising, sipping chamomile tea, meditating and/or yoga, which all help usher in soothing calm.
Week 2: High-flying
Day 8 to Day 14 (or ovulation day in your cycle)
This is the week of your cycle when physical and mental energy peak thanks to high estrogen and a short spike in testosterone.
While this sounds awesome, it’s more of a good news/bad news situation:
The good news: You can speed through tasks faster, tackle mentally or physically challenging project with more ease, stay up late and get up early (or pull an all-nighter) and generally push the limits of whatever you want to do.
The bad news: This soaring mental energy can make you way more easily distracted, making it difficult to focus all this energy on one project–and see it through to the finish without starting another one and another one and another one…and then not completing any. So, your challenge is to rein in your brain and use tools to keep you on task, such as writing reminders on sticky notes around you or setting alarms on your phone or computer to ensure you reach certain points of a project by specific times.
Do you rarely if ever experience a surge in pep during your Week 2? It could be due to a hormone imbalance or other health issue, an overwhelming amount of stress or a vitamin or mineral deficiency. If you and your health care provider can pinpoint the cause–and find a fix–you can enjoy this high-energy phase, too.
Is nothing wrong with your health, stress is low and you still don’t experience a spike in energy? Then, you could be a “hormonally opposite” woman.
Week 3: Screeching halt
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days (that’s Day 15 to Day 22 in a 28-day cycle)
Grab your hanky and wave bye-bye to all that soaring energy you enjoyed in the first half of your cycle. A sudden–and steep–dip in estrogen coupled by a rise in sedating progesterone is slamming the brakes on your pep.
Depending on your sensitivity to this hormonal combination, you could feel a tad sluggish and foggy or you could feel so sapped, you’re thisclose to a nap all day long.
Chances are, you’ll poop out way sooner than you did in your Week 2, so don’t plan too many late nights unless you also plan to ingest copious amounts of caffeine or take pre-emptive naps in the middle of the day (which may not even help keep your eyes open past 10 pm).
If you’re doing a high-intensity activity that requires more mental or physical oomph than you have, try going for a brisk walk, eating a bit of dark chocolate, sipping a caffeinated beverage or forcing yourself to do something really fast (like reading out loud or typing a letter). All are study-proven ways to clear the cobwebs and up energy. (For some reason, I have a feeling 99% of you made a mental note about the “dark chocolate” recommendation. Just a hunch.)
Week 4: A less foggy finish
Final 6 days of your cycle
Your premenstrual week is so often maligned. Well, I’m going to give you one really good reason to look forward to it: Your body’s level of progesterone dips this week of your cycle–and this means you’re less foggy and tired than you were in Week 3 of your cycle.
Oh, you’re not hopping over shopping carts in a single bound or entering sailor knot competitions just yet. Estrogen is also on the downswing, which keeps your energy at low levels.
However, freed from the tiring shackles of progesterone, you may feel like you can get more accomplished and feel a bit more clear-headed.
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