In the last edition of this blog, I went into different ways we can boost our energy and combat fatigue. We talked a little bit about sleep (again, no substitute for it), Eating habits, Movement and Drinking Water. This time around, I thought I’d shed some light on lesser-known ways that could be affecting our levels of fatigue throughout the day. Less fatigue means more energy, more productivity, and a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Reducing Screen Time
Screen time can refer to computers, televisions, and our cell phones. These devices affect us several different ways that we really don’t think about. One of the biggest culprits that can lead to fatigue from screen time comes from inactivity. Very rarely are we on a screen while also being physically active, if ever. We talked about the effects of being inactive in the last blog, so I won’t go too far into this side of things, however being more active and moving is one of the best ways to build up our energy.
Another major area of concern when it comes to screen time comes from the affect it has on our eyes. When we spend multiple hours a day (a 2014 report said adults spend 11 hours per day on a screen) our vision ends up becoming blurred, caused by eyestrain and dryness. This could lead to headaches as the eyes work hard to focus on what is on the screen. Screens can overload our eyes and our brains. We are taking in a lot of content in a small amount of time, which can be quite taxing and exhausting mentally.
Remember when our parents told us not to look directly into the sun? Well we are doing that to a slight degree with screens. We stare at an illuminated screen all day, and it’s a lot of strain on the eyes. This can affect our sleep cycles as well, as these kinds of lights reduce the melatonin production of our body creating issues with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
How can we make a change? Well, simply we need to get away from screens throughout the day. Take small breaks from looking at our computers, we can’t spend all night watching TV or playing video games, and we need to keep our cell phone usage down as well (most phones will have weekly reports we can set up to help us out).
Another big way we can minimize this point is by reducing the brightness of our devices. Reducing the brightness a little bit (but not enough to cause more eye strain by not being able to see what is happening) can dramatically reduce the eye strain, and over activity of the eyes/brain.
Caffeinated, but in moderation
Caffeine is the go-to way for pretty much every person looking to get a quick burst of energy through the day or trying to get through the fatigue wall. Whether it is through coffee, energy drinks or even pre-workout supplements, caffeine is a prominent way to increase our energy levels quickly. Caffeine stimulates an increase in our heart rate, blood pressure and stimulates our adrenal glad, which is responsible for our “fight or flight” reflex.
Caffeine can be an effective way to stimulate short-term energy, but it shouldn’t be overused. The more we use caffeine, and the more reliant we are on caffeine, will reduce the effects caffeine has on our body. Our body adjusts to what we constantly do, so if we are constantly having a cup of coffee, the effects will slowly minimize. As our bodies become more familiar with the effects of the stimulant, it will take more of the stimulant to influence the body, very much in the same vein as resistance training. Aiming to have no more than 2-3 cups of coffee, or 400mg of caffeine per day is a reasonable amount to have.
When we overdo our caffeine usage, it has a trickle-down effect to many different aspects of our health and can cause greater fatigue. With the increase in both heart rate and blood pressure, our blood sugars will be used up more rapidly in the body, which leaves us with less energy and more sweet cravings than we normally would have. The over usage of stimulants can also affect our sleep cycles depending on when we consume caffeine, leading to even greater feelings of fatigue. Caffeine can work as a minor diuretic as well, which can affect our hydration levels and subsequently energy levels as well (as mentioned in my last article).
Nothing will wake someone up quite like getting outside. Not only will we be up and moving, but soaking in the sun, and getting fresh air, will help dramatically ease any fatigue we are feeling.
When we are indoors, at most offices/schools we are constantly sitting in fluorescent lighting, which can further eyestrain compounded with our screen time. Getting natural sunlight can boost energy levels by producing more serotonin levels and providing the body with more Vitamin D, which can increase the energy within our cells.
While sunlight is a big factor, so is fresh air. Typically, offices have “stale” air, as in the oxygen saturation in the air we breath is reduced, and an increased amount of Carbon Dioxide due to being in a confined space, with less fresh air coming in. When we can get outside, we are able to breath in more oxygen rich air. Our blood soaks up this oxygen and transports it throughout the body, to create more ATP (or cellular energy).
Yawning is a good indicator it’s time to get up, get moving, and get some fresh air! As the act of yawing is believed to be from a deprivation of oxygen due to shallow breathes taken when we are tired or bored.
When we can reduce fatigue we will become much happier, much more productive, and be able to enjoy life to the fullest!
In Summery we can combat fatigue in multiple different ways:
- We need to sleep more
- Exercise frequently, and more through the day
- Eat a well-balanced nutrition plan
- Drink more water
- Caffeinate, but not excessively
- Reduce Screen Time
- Get Outdoors more
CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer
RK Athletics – https://linktr.ee/RK_Athletics