For the past few months, I’ve been feeling low-energy, lethargic, and groggy, sometimes bordering on depressed. It’s been difficult to get things done, let alone feel passionate about my Great Work. I’ve been sleuthing and trying lots of different things – especially things to help me sleep better. Here’s my report on what worked and what didn’t.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. I’m just sharing my experience.
1. Vitamin B12
This was one of the 3 most helpful things. I heard that vegetarians need B12, so I tried it out. When I first took one, I remarked, “This is sunshine in pill form!” Everything suddenly felt doable and less daunting!
2. Vitamin D
I hear this is good for Portlanders to take in pill form since we get less of it in sun form. I started taking it and didn’t notice anything obvious, but I’m going to keep taking it anyway.
3. Get up at the same time every morning
It took about a month (January) to get in the habit of waking up at 9am sharp every morning, but now it happens automatically. That’s the power of habits!
The thing that helped the most was having a first-thing-in-the-morning routine. When my alarm goes off:
- Get out of bed. (I put my alarm just out of reach.)
- Turn it off.
- Go to the bathroom.
- Put on my pajamas.
- Sit on the couch.
- Set a 15-minute timer.
- Do morning Remembrance.
When I do the same thing every morning, I learn to do it on autopilot, so I can stumble through my routine even when I’m groggy.
4. The Sleep Cycle app
I haven’t actually tried this app, but I’ve heard good things about it. I also remember one time when I shifted my sleep schedule from sleeping 8 hours a night to sleeping 7.5 hours a night, and I felt much more rested – probably because I was waking up in between sleep cycles instead of in the middle of a cycle.
I tried setting myself a bedtime of 1am, but it was really hard to stick to, especially when I was really excited about the book I was reading. I tried a few tricks like only charging my Kindle partway, so it would run out of batteries around 1am, but that was pretty difficult to gauge and kind of a pain.
6. Don’t read in bed
This was one of the 3 most helpful things. For some reason, it’s way easier for me to stick to my 1am bedtime when I’m not in bed. Also, it trains my body that the bed is only for sleep (and sex) but not reading, so now I get sleepy when I get into bed. It’s so much easier for me to fall asleep now when I get into bed, and it only took a few days of not reading in bed to notice a difference!
This also goes for smartphones or anything with a screen. Backlit screens tell your brain that it’s time to wake up, so it’s good to have a “no screens” cool-down period before sleep.
7. Exercise a little bit every day
This was one of the 3 most helpful things. I experimented with playing a little DDR every day. My commitment was just one song every day (2 minutes), but since I enjoy it, I usually played for at least 15 minutes. This helped me get to sleep and sleep restfully. It feels like if my body doesn’t get physical exertion, I get fidgety and restless instead of sleepy at night.
8. Plan your day around your energy rhythm
I notice that I usually hit a slump around 3 in the afternoon – that’s when I start feeling low-energy. So I arranged my schedule so that I can play DDR at 3pm most days. I also know that my decision-making ability is strong in the morning and weak in the afternoon and evening, so I make plans – including planning my day – in the morning, and I follow those plans in the afternoon.
I found these 8 techniques by experimenting and trying lots of different things. Feeling energized makes everything better and helps you feel motivated, so keep trying until you find what works for you!