How Functional Medicine Can Increase Your Energy

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     At some point or another we’ve all probably felt tired from sleep deprivation, from stressors, or from being overworked. These are some pretty simply explained causes for tiredness, but what about some of the more complex sources? If you’re suffering from a chronic condition or disease, there are several lifestyle changes that can make you feel more awake.

1.       Light Exercise

     If you’re feeling sluggish in the middle of the day, it can help to move around. Get up from your desk, walk around the office, stretch, and even work at a standing desk if possible. I know it sounds counterintuitive to exercise when you’re out of energy, but it can stimulate both your body and your mind. It boosts circulation and increases the release of hormones that make you feel more alert.

2.       Sleep Hygiene

      This sounds like an obvious one, but don’t underestimate the value of good healthy sleep. Most adults should be getting eight hours of sleep each night. Of course going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning help immensely. If I feel I can’t get to sleep I use natural supplements like melatonin and smooth valerian (which are available at my office). I find these tend to be less habit forming than prescription sleep medications. The most helpful tip I can probably give is to get rid of screens at least an hour before sleep. This includes TVs, phones, laptops, and tablets.

3.       Coffee – Drink or Avoid?

     I’m a proponent of coffee to naturally improve concentration and increase energy, but in general it’s a good not to make it a daily habit. I love a cup of coffee before a workout, usually with some healthy fat like coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass-fed butter to keep me satiated. But if you drink it every day you may tend to gradually increase intake and become dependent. This may lead to a host of other problems like adrenal fatigue. The way to maximize the benefits of coffee may be to make it an occasional solution.  

Strategies for Better Sleep

Better Sleep

Strategy #1 – Make your bedroom an electronic free zone. Don’t use your phone, TV, tablet, or computer before sleep. That bright light from the screen works its way into your brain and delays the release of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin.

Strategy #2 – Try supplementation before potentially harmful prescription sleep medication. Magnesium plays an important role in regulating sleep patterns. The standard American diet is low in Magnesium. Supplementing with as little as five-hundred milligrams right before bed helps me relax and fall to sleep. Chamomile tea and/or valerian root are good choices as well. We have a great Valerian root based sleep aid here at the office called Maxi Snooze. After just one or two capsules I’m ready to sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Strategy #3 – If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, get out of bed and do something quietly enjoyable. Lying in bed for hours and getting annoyed can be a waking nightmare. Instead read a book or magazine (again, be wary of the backlight on tablets).

Strategy #4 – Clear your mind before bed. A few hours before you go to sleep, take a minute or two to plan out everything you need to get done the following day. This strategy can reduce stress, anxiety, and your mind from running wild while you’re lying in bed.