Work with your ultradian rhythms - Deepstash

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Mental Fatigue: What to Do When Your Brain Is Too Tired to Think Straight

Work with your ultradian rhythms

Your body has natural ebbs and flows in energy throughout the day. Those are your ultradian rhythms. They are driven by your hormone levels, metabolic processes, and cardiovascular functioning and affect your energy, mood, and cognitive functioning. They are unique to you.

These rhythms take the form of 90-minute peaks of energy followed by a 20-minute dip that repeats throughout the day. As the day progresses, the peaks get lower and lower. Plan your day to work with your ultradian rhythms. Take a week to note your energy levels throughout the day. Notice when your energy levels are highest and lowest.

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Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;
  • Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you get sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating.
Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.
Change Your Diet

Eating lots of protein is essential for staving off fatigue, especially early in the day when your cortisol levels are high.

  • Breakfast: eat eggs, a slice of ham or add protein powder to your oatmeal. Otherwise, you eat only carbohydrates and you'll crash early.
  • Eat every three to four hours. Snacks like fruit and nuts, string cheese, a couple of scoops of cottage cheese or even beef jerky will satiate your hunger and boost energy levels.
Clean Out Your Gut

If you're frequently tired or feel bloated, you may want to get your gut in shape:

  • Avoid aspirin. 
  • Cut out alcohol for a month. 
  • Avoid aspartame. This artificial sweetener is a pro-inflammatory. It acts like "a film inside your colon."
  • Drink about eight glasses of water daily.
Get Better Sleep

To get better sleep, improve your bedroom hygiene.

  • Get the television out of the bedroom. 
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Keep the bedroom cool to help you fall asleep.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, get up and leave the room until you feel tired.
  • Never exercise after 4 pm.
Get More Sleep

Lack of sleep can result in you feeling lethargic, grumpy and tired. If you often feel this way, you may want to consider whether you’re getting enough sleep.

Try and aim for around 7 hours of quality sleep per night. Wind down from your day with relaxing behaviors before bed.

Reduce Stress

Feelings of stress can mean that you struggle to concentrate, experience racing thoughts, difficulty switching off and tiredness.

Strategies to improve your energy levels include taking some time for yourself to relax, reading or going for a walk.

Move More

One study found that sedentary people with persistent, unexplained fatigue decreased their tiredness by around 65% just by regularly participating in low-intensity cycling.

Get up and move your body like brisk walking or cycling to boost your energy levels.