The truth is, caffeine doesn’t actually give us energy in the first place. It’s an adenosine-receptor antagonist. What this means is that caffeine dulls our response to sleepiness, making us forget that we are tired, and so we feel stimulated and alert. While this is a biohack all on its own, it’s dangerous to become addicted, as caffeine has a negative effect on our sleep quality.
In order to live optimally healthy lives, we must get restful, restorative sleep each night to fuel our brains, heal our skin, fight aging and disease, and have tons of energy to get us through each day. It may sound like biohacking, but there are practices that are really just part of a healthy, realistic lifestyle as our bodies intended.
Dr. Michael Breus, the Sleep Doctor, co-wrote a book called Energize – Go from Dragging Ass to Kicking It in 30 Days with Stacey Griffith, the founding Senior Master Instructor at SoulCycle. As one may guess, they have a solid grasp on the importance of sleep and how to cultivate your own personal best sleep wellness, because we are all unique and need different things. They look at energy through the lens of the chronotype, which depends on our individual, personal circadian tendencies and body types.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy and delicious to consume a frothy latte and get moving with our day, and building up better sleep habits takes time. But the many, many benefits are so incredible, and these habits set us up for a lifetime of better sleep and energy. Here are some of Dr. Breus’ tips for how to have more energy, hold the coffee.
“When a person wakes up naturally based on their chronotype, it is an immediate step in the right direction. When a person does wake at the specific time allotted to their chronotype (Lion, Bear, Wolf, or Dolphin, which you’ll decipher when you take the quiz), then the melatonin production in their head is already slow, if not stopped. This will take something called sleep inertia out of the equation.”
Sleep inertia is that groggy feeling we get when our alarm sounds. It feels obtrusive and offensive, and some of us actually feel unwell at this time, as if going back to sleep is the only comfort in the world. It’s a real problem and an indication that something is amiss in our sleeping patterns, which will affect our energy throughout the day, if not our overall wellness.
“YES, it can be artificial. When I travel to Europe, I bring a light box with me, and it REALLY helps. Personally, I like the GoLite from Philips (I have no affiliation with them). This is a similar process used with patients who have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).”
This may sound funny, but the science is real. Getting sunlight (even artificial sunlight) in the eyes first thing in the morning triggers melatonin production 16 hours later, so you’ll naturally feel sleepy when it’s time for lights out at your regular bedtime.
“Wake up your respiratory system with 15 deep breaths. This also floods your brain with a little oxygen, and will certainly help. Personally, I belong to a men’s group that meets on Zoom almost every day, and we breathe together using the Wim Hof Method.”
You can do this alone, of course. Take deep breaths right from bed, first thing. Continue some mindful breathing on a morning walk while getting that early sunlight, and maybe some yoga to keep the morning breath flowing. Which brings us to Dr. Breus’ next tip …
“Once you begin to get your body moving, it will certainly help with your energy levels. This is because it really forces your metabolism to increase in pace, quickly. This will also cause a cascade of hormonal changes, which promote things like cortisol production—basically the energy hormone.”
This is why we do mindful meditation, slow yin yoga, slow breathwork, and anti-stress activities and herbs when it’s time for bed. We are trying to lower cortisol for better sleep. More cortisol = more energy.
Hydrate, don’t caffeinate
“Sleep itself is a dehydrative event; you lose almost a full liter of water each night. Hydration also gets all your other systems moving, which will help promote more energetic feelings.”
When we hydrate in the morning, it’s not just our skin and lymph that get a boost. We rehydrate our brain, which shrinks significantly overnight hauling our metabolic waste. Rehydrating our brains and bodies gets us ready for a day of clear thinking—start out with around 32 ounces of warm lemon water and see the natural boost your body gets!