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Health & Balance

What’s Zapping Your Energy?

11 surprising things may be draining your energy without you even knowing it.
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3. Exercise (Too Little or Too Much)

When it comes to fitness, there are two ways to zap energy, Silber says. The first is by not exercising. "Exercise energizes us physically, mentally, and emotionally," she says. "Without it, we're naturally more sluggish." Exercise also enhances our mood by increasing the release of endorphins, a "feel good" chemical that increases energy levels. On the other hand, too much exercise also presents a problem. Overtraining depletes our energy reserves, breaks down muscle, and eventually makes us weaker, not stronger. Overdoing the workouts also suppresses the immune system, which in turn reduces our resistance to bacterial and viral invasion, Silber says. "We're more vulnerable to illness, which further zaps our energy as a result," she says.

4. Dehydration

"Most people don't drink enough water," says Scottsdale, Ariz., nutritionist Susan Ayersman of Kronos Optimal Health Center. "We need water to flush out toxins, keep our tissues hydrated, keep our energy up." Water is the perfect no-calorie beverage, and you can dress it up by adding citrus slices or a sprig of mint. But when you want another alternative, try 100% fruit juices (while not necessarily low in calories, they contain important nutrients); nonfat milk, which will give you a calcium boost; unsweetened tea (try herbal or decaffeinated); seltzer water with a splash of juice or slice of fruit; homemade lemonade, with lemon, water, and a small amount of sugar or artificial sweetener; or coffee (again, choose decaffeinated if caffeine keeps you up) with skim milk and artificial sweetener; try it iced in hot weather.

5. Lack of Sleep

If you don't get a good night's sleep on a regular basis, chances are, one of these "sleep busters" is keeping you awake, says Joyce Walsleben:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Illness
  • Noise
  • Light
  • Overcommitted schedule
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Stimulant medications (such as diet pills, cold and allergy remedies, asthma medications)
  • Depression or anger
  • Fear

To get a better night's sleep, you need to strengthen your natural sleep patterns, says Walsleben, who offers these suggestions:

  • Regularize your sleep-wake patterns. Get up at the same time every day. If you wake up at 7 a.m. during the week, skip the temptation to sleep in on weekend mornings. Avoid naps, unless you take one regularly. Try to sleep the same amount of time every night. Some people need nine hours of sleep every night; some do fine with less. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
  • Ritualize your cues for good sleep. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Keep the room quiet, dark, and cool. Get in bed only when you're sleepy.
  • Start a worry notebook. Using a child's school notebook, on the left side of the page, list the issues that have been running through your mind; on the right side, list actions you can take to resolve those issues.
  • Resist temptation. That includes alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, all of which can interfere with sleep.

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