How to hack your sleep, energy and mood in lockdown
There is something about this lockdown that is really sapping our energy levels.
Gone are the enthusiastic early-morning jogs and the after-work baking sessions of the early lockdowns. Now, we can barely drag ourselves from our beds to our desks to our sofas.
It’s no surprise that people are feeling particularly groggy. The accumulated stress of the pandemic and the endless uncertainty is really taking its toll – mentally and physically.
We are struggling to sleep, our emotions are all over the show, exercising regularly is becoming a struggle.
But, if you’re at a particularly low ebb right now, there are some things you can do that might help to give you a boost.
Shivraj Bassi, founder and CEO at Innermost, says you can use certain natural ingredients to help improve your sleep, mood, energy and focus – and she calls this technique ‘biohacking’.
‘Biohacking is based on the idea that your body and mind can be optimised through the considered use of different ingredients, in particular nootropics and adaptogens,’ explains Shivraj.
‘By making the right nutrition choices based on your individual needs and goals, the use of these ingredients can help you cope better with stress, feel more energised, be more productive and even enhance creativity.’
How to boost your sleep
A recent study by King’s College London found that 64% of people are getting a worse quality of sleep during lockdown.
Whether you’re waking up too early, struggling to nod off, or being plagued by unsettling dreams – a poor night’s sleep can really ruin your day, and impact your mood.
Shivraj says it isn’t surprising that so many of us are struggling with our sleep when we spend so much of our time working in our bedrooms and doom-scrolling on our phones late into the night.
‘Making the right nutrition choices and incorporating certain research-backed natural ingredients into your diet can help address these problems,’ she explains.
‘For example, valerian root is a medicinal herb that has been used since ancient times to relieve sleep disturbances and reduce the time taken to fall asleep.
‘Additionally, ashwagandha is one of the most powerful adaptogenic herbs in Ayurvedic medicine used to help the body cope with external stresses such as toxins in the environment and internal stresses such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.
‘Both ingredients can be found individually in specialist health stores.’
How to boost your focus
The knock-on from a poor night of sleep is low energy and an ability to concentrate.
And feeling tired and distracted can impact your ability to work from home, communicate with friends and even maintain your relationship.
‘If you’re looking to improve focus for your morning Zoom meetings, look no further than Bacopa Monnieri,’ says Shivraj.
A nootropic herb often used in Ayurvedic medicine that has been shown to improve cognition, reduce anxiety and improve memory formation.
‘It works by enhancing the rate at which the nervous system can communicate by increasing the growth of nerve endings, also called dendrites. This is one of the ways we can “biohack” our bodies.
‘Another nootropic powerhouse, Rhodiola Rosea, is a flowering plant that research has shown to reduce the effects of physical stress that can result in fatigue and burnout. Increasingly people are using this to help them cope with heavy workloads.’
How to boost your mood and mental health
More people have been struggling with their mental health than previously recorded, and the dark dreary month of January doesn’t do much to help.
Of course, depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness are medical conditions – so your first port of call should always be your GP if you are worried about how you are feeling.
However, there are also some natural ways that could help to improve your mood – and may work alongside therapy or medication. But always speak to your doctor if you’re unsure about trying something different.
‘There’s a number of ways we can improve mood from better sleep, nutritious meals and an endorphin boosting home workout,’ suggests Shivraj.
‘If you need to add some additional pep to your workout, consider adding some guarana to your pre-workout ritual.
‘Guarana is an Amazonian fruit with a high alkaloid content shown to beneficially improve alertness, reaction time and performance in physical exercises.
‘Matcha is another great ingredient to add into your daily routine. Available as a green tea at most supermarkets, it’s loaded with antioxidants including polyphenols that have been shown to maintain positive mood states.
‘Additionally, matcha is rich in the amino acid l-theanine, which offers benefits mood improving benefits centred around promoting a feeling of calm.’
Shivraj adds that another often overlooked way to boost energy is to make sure you are eating enough.
‘If you’re finding yourself getting sluggish from mindless snacking, make sure you’ve got enough protein in your meals to keep you fuller for longer,’ she adds.
‘This could be by adding meat, fish, eggs, nuts, but you can also add protein powder to your oatmeal or porridge. Short on time? Have a protein shake as an afternoon snack to curb the cravings.’
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