As you hit the perimenopause, and are juggling madly with everything that life throws at you, many women I know are on their knees with exhaustion. And, they say that often they are eating more to boost their energy, than to satisfy hunger. Not to mention, to soothe the stress of it all.
As a doctor, I have to prescribe drugs to deal with various problems – but one complaint that can’t routinely be solved with tablets is low energy!
Sometimes an underactive thyroid can lead to tiredness, which does need medication – but it’s much more commonly due to lifestyle issues.
So, what does cause that energy slump, common mid-afternoon or early evening? If you understand why it is happening, you can choose from my list of remedies!
Studies show that our energy levels respond to natural light, which isn’t surprising really as we weren’t designed to be nocturnal animals. But so many of us spend time indoors in poorly lit offices or homes without the early morning exposure to natural light which sets our body clock and energy levels.
It’s one I constantly go on about, but poor sleep is common in perimenopause – it may be poor quality even if you think you’re sleeping long enough. And, obviously, if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, you’ll be tired and searching for sugary energy all day!
Airless, over-warm homes and offices can also drain us – partly due to dehydration. Being too warm at night (even before any hot flushes!) doesn’t help sleep either.
Relying on sugary snacks or quick-release processed carbs for energy may work short-term but our blood sugar will soon again, leaving us feeling tired and listless.
It’s not just the content but the volume we eat. A large meal needs digesting – and our blood supply is diverted to our gut to help – leaving us feeling lethargic.
Too much sitting
Studies show that our body doesn’t work well if we spend too much time sitting. Yet, many of us spend a lot of the day at a desk leaving us with stiff muscles, and an aching back - hardly a recipe for energy.
A mid-afternoon slump seems to be programmed into our natural diurnal rhythm. Some cultures just embrace it – think of the Mediterranean siesta – but do you try to fight that natural drop in energy with a sugary snack, instead?
Hopefully you’ve identified the main causes of your own energy slumps. Try some of these remedies to help boost your energy in a healthier way!
MY ENERGY PRESCRIPTION.....
Ditch sugary carbs as they may give you instant energy but it doesn’t last long. Choose high protein eggs or a bowl of hearty oats with berries and nuts, instead of sugary cereal for breakfast to give slow release energy all morning. Focus on protein and healthy fats again at lunch and choose sugar-free snacks like a handful of almonds – great for heart health as well as avoiding sugar dips.
Steer clear of the breakfast juice – it’s little more than sugar. Caffeine is fine in moderation as it’s proven to give an energy boost. But avoid it after lunch or it will affect your sleep and leave you more tired the next day. Cut back (or cut out?!) alcohol too. It saps energy and also reduces sleep quality. And sadly, studies show that it has no health benefits, even in moderation.
Getting outdoors first thing boosts our body clock and gets our body geared up for the day.
Studies show it boosts mood – which makes us feel more energised in itself. And, improving our fitness makes all our body systems more efficient, leaving our internal batteries full of energy, instead of drained.
Make sure you get a good 7-9 hours a night to preserve your energy.
HRT may help if you are struggling in the perimenopause. And, as mentioned, avoid alcohol and don’t over-heat your bedroom .. 16-18 degrees is apparently just right for a good, energy-restoring sleep.