You don’t need us to tell you that living off Pop Tarts and three hours of sleep drains you of energy. But those aren’t the only factors that can lead to a big dip. If you’re about an hour away from crawling under your office desk to take a nap, keep reading for sneaky, subtle ways you’re sabotaging your energy.
1. Bad posture
Sit up straight! And not just because your mother told you too…according to the American Chiropractic Association, your body actually consumes more energy when you’re slouching. Make sure you’re taking breaks to stretch, recommends wellness expert Scott Donkin, DC, DACBOH. “When you stretch, you elongate and elasticize your ligaments and muscles and lubricate the joints. Your joints will glide more, which will require less consumption of energy in the muscle.”
2. Being thirsty
If you’re often only remembering to drink water once you feel thirsty, you’re dehydrated. “Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 [percent] or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform,” scientist Lawrence E. Armstrong explains. Just a 1.5 percent drop in normal water volume in the body has adverse effects on your energy level (along with your mood and ability to think clearly), two University of Connecticut studies found. Women are particularly susceptible to those effects.
3. Your gadgets…even when they‘re off
From street lamps to the light from your charging laptop to the glowing numbers on your alarm clock, even a small amount of artificial light—anything that keeps your bedroom from being completely dark while you sleep—can suppress the production of a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. Not only will you have a harder time falling asleep, it’ll be tougher to stay that way. Consider covering up bright lights from laptops and phones, and add blackout curtains in your bedroom if the light is coming from outside.
4. Feeling lonely
Loneliness and isolation can wreak havoc on the body, leading to higher blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and issues with learning and memory. And sleep is less physically and psychologically restorative, with more frequent wake-ups in the middle of the night, often leaving socially isolated people feeling drained in the morning.
5. Your allergies
Think your season allergies are too mild for treatment? They may be draining you of energy—nasal congestion causes mini wake-ups during the night that you may not even be aware are happening. Come morning, you feel like you haven’t slept a wink.