Better ways to fight fatigue
Popular energy or sleep products promise to help you combat the midafternoon slump or help you fall asleep faster, but do they work? Here are common fatigue-fighting products, and better alternatives to get an energy boost:
Many energy drinks provide a short-term boost via large amounts of caffeine. For most people, occasional energy drinks are fine, but check with your health care provider if you have an underlying condition such as heart disease or high blood pressure. A major downside is that the caffeine boost of an energy drink may take many hours to wear off, impacting your sleep at night.
A better alternative — If an afternoon drop in energy is a problem, plan social activities during this time. Social connection and interaction keeps attention levels up and shifts your thoughts away from feeling tired.
Blue light that comes from television screens, cellphones and computers can trick your body into thinking it’s daytime and interfere with your sleep. However, there is no conclusive evidence that wearing blue-light-blocking lenses improves sleep.
A better alternative — Save yourself the expense of these glasses and avoid blue light by setting aside your screens at least one hour before bedtime. This can also help you unwind in other ways, such as avoiding being stimulated by the news or social media.
The hormone melatonin plays a role in your natural sleep-wake cycle. Nonprescription melatonin supplements may help with certain sleep problems, such as delayed sleep phase disorder, or with sleep effects from shift work or time zone changes. However, melatonin may suppress testosterone levels, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine does not recommend using it to treat chronic insomnia because it may not help much.
A better alternative — Start with sleep hygiene tips, such as setting aside at least eight hours for sleep, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, and making your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. You may also want to consider cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). This therapy is an effective treatment that can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake. In addition, limited research on aromatherapy — the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants — has shown that it might improve sleep by helping you relax.
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