Energy is the number one thing patients tell me they don’t have enough of. That statement right there might help you: everyone thinks that others have more energy than they do, but really, almost everyone is feeling the pinch, they’re just not telling you! It’s mostly a factor of our cultural expectations. People “think” they should be able to go, go, go, no matter what age they are. In reality, that’s not true, especially as we age. Our energy does decline as we grow older, starting at anywhere from 35-50 depending on the person. So if you are that age or above, don’t expect to be able to do as much in a day as a 20 year old. That said, here are three ways to increase your energy:
1. Sleep when it’s dark out: Chinese Medicine teaches us that we are part of the environment, and our bodies are built to work with the daily and seasonal changes in light. At night, energy flows through the internal organs, and they are meant to be cleansing, AND storing any extra Qi, blood, and essence left from the day. If we are awake during this time, the body doesn’t get an adequate amount of time to do this and we end up drained rather than shored up. Ideally, it is best to sleep from 9pm – 5am. Since this is so difficult for many in our culture, I recommend at the very least not going to bed past midnight, 10pm or 11pm is even better.
2. Get enough sleep: This may seem like a no brainer, but many people tell me they would like more energy, and later on tell me they are only sleeping six to seven hours per night. Studies have shown that, regardless of what people say, humans need seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
3. Eliminate all caffeine: For some this may seem contradictory. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “I NEED that caffeine to have any energy in the morning.” Caffeine is like using a credit card with no money in the bank, as my herb teacher, Richard Liao, used to say. We feel the artificial high, but it is doing it at an expense, and we actually get depleted more and more each day. It also does interrupt sleep cycles, every two-hours for up to 24 hours. In addition, it blocks enzymes in the body that might digest our food or release energy in other ways.
Of course, there are many other things we can do, like exercise, slow down, develop a bedtime ritual so you sleep better, eat healthy food, spend time out in nature, but these are three things to start with that many people often leave for last. Good luck!