We all know someone with seemingly boundless energy. You know, that person who wakes up with the sun, who actually goes to the gym before 8 a.m., who is always up for an after-work adventure or weekend-long excursion. But chances are, you are not one of those people.
According to a 2015 survey from YouGov, only one in seven Americans wake up feeling fresh and rested every day. The rest of us slog through life exhausted, getting by with the help of extra-large coffees and the promise of a comfortable couch to collapse on at the end of the day.
Tired of being tired? We partnered with Sleep Number to talk to some of those mythical, extra-energetic people and get some tips even the sleepiest among us can follow. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Eat a filling, balanced breakfast.
Feeling sluggish? Check your diet! If you’re consuming mostly processed foods full of sugar, or if you’re skipping major meals like breakfast in an attempt to lose weight, you’ve found your culprit.
“You should always have a balanced breakfast that will provide you with energy and promote stable blood sugar levels,” says Alyssa Cohen, a registered dietitian and food blogger.
“Blood sugar is often elevated in the morning, partly due to the release of hormones like cortisol, which spikes around the time people wake up,” says Cohen. “In order to prevent a large spike in energy, which will be followed by a crash, it’s best to eat a breakfast heavy in good carbohydrates, like whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruit, and pair those with some protein and fat. This will manage blood sugar levels and prevent energy crashes.”
A good bet? Try a fresh slice of whole-grain toast with some avocado, egg or smoked salmon. A delicious, healthy and energy-boosting start to the day that will keep your mind working until lunch.
2. Develop your social skills.
If your job requires you to be “on” all the time, it can really take a toll on your store of mental energy. While some of us thrive off meeting and talking to new people, many others find constant social interaction draining. Dr. Alex Roher, a plastic surgeon based in San Diego, says he manages his demanding work schedule by working on his social skills.
“People always ask me how I’m so energetic,” says Dr. Roher. “My answer is that I make an effort every day to advance my social skills. Your ability to communicate effectively with other people has so many implications for your personal and professional life, and I’ve tried a few different things. For a while, I really focused on listening to people with the intent to understand. I would push the urge to get my point across aside, and give people the space to express themselves.”
Dr. Roher has also experimented with using eye contact and physicality while communicating, but he says the best way he’s found to get over social anxiety and become comfortable talking to strangers is to just go out and approach people.
“The bottom line is this: Learn the habit of developing social skills,” says Dr. Roher. “You will feel more energetic when you don’t have to stress and worry about meeting new people every day.”
3. Get those creative muscles working early in the day.
Heading to the gym first thing in the morning is a sure-fire way to start your day off on the right foot, but if you just can’t get your body moving right away, try working out another major muscle: your brain.
“To get your mind jump-started, I recommend doing something creative right after you wake up,” says Gene Caballero, a certified personal trainer and small business owner with a degree in Psychology and Exercise Science. “What I do first thing in the morning is play piano. It’s fun, and I look forward to it every day. Playing an instrument has been scientifically proven to engage practically every area of the brain at once especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices, so it gets my mental capacity going. It’s like a mental full body workout that’s replaced my morning coffee and helped me be more productive throughout the day.”
If piano isn’t your instrument, that’s OK. This kind of mental workout can be done with pretty much any creative hobby or skill. Bust out your knitting needles after you turn off your alarm, or fire up your karaoke skills in your morning shower. Whether you love to draw, write, dance or scrapbook, make that the first thing you do every morning!
4. Drink. More. Water!
It sounds simple, and yet so many people blindly suffer from the tiring symptoms of dehydration every day. A recent study from the UK found that one in five people don’t know how much water they’re supposed to drink, and those who underestimate their H2O consumption are often tired, cranky, unable to concentrate and constantly craving unhealthy foods. To combat this, most experts recommend the average adult follow the “eight-eight” rule when it comes to water: drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the course of every day, and try to avoid chugging too much soda, coffee or juice, which can, depending on their levels of sugar, dehydrate you even more.
5. Put down the devices and get some sleep!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult brain needs anywhere from seven to eight hours of shut-eye every night. Be honest, how much did you get last night? If your answer was less than that, you should try hitting the sack a little earlier tonight.
Laura Ardnt is a personal trainer who owns two businesses who still finds time for her husband and dog while working nearly seven days a week. Her magic trick? She doesn’t give up her precious sleeping time for any kind of modern distraction.
“I don’t sacrifice sleep for anything, especially TV,” says Ardnt. “Skip the TV at night as there’s nothing on TV these days you can’t find online down the road, or on your Roku when you have real down time.”
To have a more energetic tomorrow, take some time tonight to off the TV, put down your phone, and remember that all those exciting texts, emails and shows will be there in the morning.