Fatigue is one of the fastest-growing issues in the U.S.
Not too surprising. In a culture that fetishizes working as hard as possible, it’s easy to trade good sleep and home-cooked meals for 10-hour days fueled by on-the-go, prepackaged junk. Almost 15 million Americans work full time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules , and about 19% of working adults clock in 48-hour or longer weeks; 7% work 60 hours or more .
Those long hours and late nights, compounded with chronic stress and nutrient-depleted foods, lead to hormone imbalance, brain fog, and mitochondrial dysfunction. And that’s when the fatigue really sets in.
Here’s what happens when you go from simply tired to chronically fatigued:
- You have trouble waking up in the morning
- You sleep a lot and still feel tired
- You feel depressed, anxious, or overly critical of yourself
- Your energy crashes in the middle of the day
- You have trouble focusing
If this sounds like you, it’s time for some foundational work. You may think you’re getting more done by skipping sleep, but relaxation and quality sleep will actually make you more productive in the long run.
5 ways to beat fatigue fast
- Dial in your diet. When you’re busy and tired, it’s hard to think about eating well, but this is when nutrient-dense foods and cutting out the crap becomes crucial. The Bulletproof Diet is the ideal way to fight fatigue. It eliminates processed food, sugar and most starches and encourages quality fats that satisfy your hunger while increasing cognitive function. Blood sugar stabilizing protein and vegetables throughout the day give you consistent energy and support restful sleep. For even more fatigue-fighting fuel, drizzle Brain Octane Oil on your meat, vegetables – even your sushi – for fats that are quickly absorbed and used as energy.
- Mind your gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria impact your energy levels. A recent study published in the journal Microbiome found that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) sufferers had a reduced overall diversity of gut bacteria and fewer anti-inflammatory bacteria. To keep gut bugs balanced, avoid mold toxins and sugar, both of which can lead to yeast and bacterial overgrowth. And – you guessed it – the Bulletproof Diet can create a powerful shift gut bacteria, leading to improved energy and fat loss. As for supplementation? Over the counter probiotics can be hit or miss – it’s best to work with a practitioner to determine a targeted protocol. You may be better off experimenting with prebiotics from resistant starch.
- Zap mold. A lot of common foods contain mold and mycotoxins that wreak havoc on your energy levels. They dampen your cognitive function, which leaves you unmotivated and makes your mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells) less efficient at producing energy. Mold in your environment is a big issue too, especially because a microscopic amount can harm you, especially if you’re more genetically inclined to mold sensitivity. Here’s an article with more on mold and how to avoid it.
- Move your body. Exercise boosts your insulin sensitivity and increases testosterone. Insulin sensitivity keeps your blood sugar levels steady so you don’t have those energy crashes throughout the day and testosterone correlates with higher energy. It’s a little cruel that one of the best ways to fight fatigue is by working hard, but exercise links strongly to increased energy levels. Get through those first couple of workouts; it will be worth it.
- Boost your brain with heat and light. Red light donates photons that your mitochondria can use to make more energy. Spending a few minutes under red light, especially in the morning, will get your mitochondria firing on all cylinders. It makes waking up much easier and can give you energy throughout the day. The best part? You don’t have to buy some fancy light machine. Get some $7 red LED light strips and stick them to the ceiling above your bed. When you wake up, pull off the covers and spend 5-10 minutes with red light shining on you. It’s best to be naked so the light hits as much of your skin as possible. And if you’re really struggling with fatigue, you can leave the red light on overnight and sleep with the covers off. Red light doesn’t inhibit melatonin, so your sleep won’t suffer, and you’ll be charging your mitochondria all night. Heat therapy using far-infrared saunas can also fight fatigue. In studies that evaluated heat therapy on the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, patients stayed in an infrared sauna for 15-minutes, then rested under a blanket for an additional 30-minutes. They reported huge increases in energy, less pain and better mood. [5,6]
You’ve probably struggled with fatigue at some point in your life. What hack would you add to this list? Share yours below. And sign up for the Bulletproof newsletter for even more actionable ways to get better at everything.