How to stop feeling fatigued and get rid of brain fog.
Your level of energy and vitality play a vital role in your performance.
Studies show that when you’re fatigued, you’re more prone to distractions, more likely to procrastinate on your goals, and less likely to exercise self-control.
But when you’re energized and healthy, getting things done will feel much more natural (and sometimes even effortless).
You’ll be able to focus better, feel more motivated, and have the energy to stick with complex tasks for longer.
That’s why I always say that productivity is at least 80% biology.
By prioritizing healthy habits, you put your brain and body in the optimal state to perform better, which makes everything flow better.
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Practice The H.L.M Morning Protocol
I used to hate the morning. I’d always feel sluggish and not fully awake during the first two hours of the day. Only after four cups of coffee would I feel energized enough to tackle the day.
But that was before I followed my morning hydration, light exposure, and movement protocol.
This short science-based routine consists of three steps designed to kickstart your energy levels and synchronize the circadian rhythm.
Part #1: Hydration
After eight hours of sleep, the body is relatively dehydrated. If you don’t quickly rehydrate, you’ll keep feeling sluggish and experience brain fog.
That’s why the first step of this morning protocol is to drink 16 ounces (0.5 liters) of water.
As author and nutritionist, Rania Batayneh wrote in her book The 1:1:1 Diet, “Start your day with 16 ounces of water to rev up your metabolism and help your body perform at its best.”
Drinking about 16 ounces (0.5 liters) of water first thing in the morning helps to:
- Clear brain fog and improve cognitive performance
- Kick-start your metabolism
- Improve energy production and transportation of vitamins & minerals throughout the body
- Ensure the proper functioning of vital organs
- Make you feel more awake, mentally sharp, and energized
(If you want, squeeze some lemon juice into your water as it contains essential minerals — like sodium, calcium, and potassium — that support many critical bodily functions.)
Part #2: Light Exposure
Dr. Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist, and professor at Stanford University, recommends getting between 2–10 minutes of natural light exposure within the first 30 minutes of waking up.
Natural light exposure in the morning helps synchronize our internal body clock (or circadian rhythm), which optimizes hormone production and regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Personally, I notice that 10 minutes of exposure to natural light in the morning makes me feel much more awake, mentally sharp, and energized to start the day.
Part #3: Movement
I notice a massive difference in my level of ‘awakeness’ between the mornings I start with_and _without movement.
Movement activates the body, gets the blood flowing, and instantly makes you feel more energized and mentally sharp.
That’s why, most mornings, I go for a 10-minute morning walk.
If I don’t feel like going for a walk, I’ll do some squats, push-ups, or stretching exercises in my garden, combining it with natural light exposure.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to do a full workout to reap the benefits (although you can). Anything that activates the body and gets your blood pumping will help you generate energy and feel more awake.
Synchronize Your Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock, carrying out automatic processes to optimize our sleep-wake cycle, hormone production, and energy levels.
Research shows that a well-synchronized body clock improves sleep quality, optimizes energy production, and boosts cognitive performance.
That’s because a well-synchronized circadian rhythm helps produce the correct hormones at the right times, helping us feel awake and mentally alert when we need to (in the morning and afternoon) and sleepy when we need to (in the evening).
But when our circadian rhythm is out of sync (which is quite common because of modern-day lifestyle habits), it can disrupt hormone production and create significant sleeping problems.
This makes you feel sluggish (in the morning or afternoon) when you need the energy and mental sharpness to get things done, but more awake and alert when you need to wind down for sleep (in the evening).
Our circadian rhythms are primarily regulated by light exposure, so if you want to synchronize your internal body clock, this is the place to start.
As Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University, said, “Exposure to natural light during the day, especially in the morning, can help synchronize our circadian rhythms.”
In the evening, however, it’s important to minimize light exposure as much as possible. As night falls and it gets dark, the body produces melatonin, which is an essential hormone for sleep.
But nowadays, with all the bright lights from our screens, devices, and indoor lights, this can be a challenge.
Studies show that the blue light emitted from our electronic devices interferes with melatonin production, which makes it hard to fall asleep.
Dr. Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscience professor at the University of Oxford, suggests to put your screens and devices away at least one hour before bedtime and dim bright lights as much as possible as the evening progresses.
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Live An Active Lifestyle (And Trigger NEAT)
The human body is designed for an active lifestyle. It’s made to walk, run, jump, squat, push, and lift heavy things.
Most of our bodily systems thrive on movement:
- It’s how we release stress
- It’s how we fight off diseases
- It’s how we generate energy
- It’s how we produce feel-good hormones
- It’s how we stimulate blood flow
- It’s how we optimize brain functioning
Think about it from an evolutionary perspective. Our ancestors would hunt for hours daily, carry their belongings for miles on end, and constantly lift heavy things to rebuild their shelters.
That’s how we lived for thousands and thousands of years, so the human body has been designed to thrive on movement.
But the sedentary lifestyle most people live these days is truly embarrassing — and damaging to their health.
Studies have found that in North America and Europe, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, while the average office worker sits a shocking 15 hours per day.
This lack of movement leads to a constant state of fatigue and sets people up for a range of diseases:
- Blood circulation slows down, which decreases cognitive performance and leads to accelerated aging of brain cells
- It increases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and stroke
- People with sedentary lifestyles are more than twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease than their active peers
One of the best antidotes to a sedentary lifestyle is to follow an exercise routine that includes cardio and weight training at least three times per week.
However, a more active lifestyle isn’t only about going all out in the gym. You can gain a lot of health benefits simply by moving more, as it triggers non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).
In simple terms, NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do outside of exercise, which studies show to be highly effective for burning calories, staying in shape, and protecting against obesity.
To get more NEAT in your daily routine, you could:
- Go for a morning/evening walk
- Play with your kids more often
- Do chores at home
- Work at a standing desk
- Practice active hobbies (such as gardening)
- Move for 5 minutes after an hour of sitting
All in all, do anything you can to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Our body is made to move, so you’ll feel a lot more energized when you live a more active lifestyle.
Practice Stress-Reducing Habits
When you experience chronic stress, your body is in constant fight or flight mode. This drains our energy reserves and wreaks havoc on the brain.
Over time, chronic stress can lead to serious health issues such as cardiovascular disease, weakened immune systems, anxiety, and depression.
In other words, if you want to optimize your health (both mentally and physically) and performance, managing stress is a smart thing to do.
One of the most effective habits to fight chronic stress is physical exercise. Exercise releases endorphins (the brain’s natural feel-good hormones), which reduces stress and anxiety.
(I always say that my everyday problems return to their true importance after a good workout. Usually, they’re much less intimidating or stressful after hitting the gym than before.)
Another effective stress-reduction method is to practice meditation or mindfulness. Meditation has been shown to decrease activity in the amygdala (the brain’s fight or flight center), making us feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
All in all, by reducing chronic stress, we can preserve our mental & physical energy batteries and keep serious health issues at bay.
Contributed by Jari Roomer
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