Sunday, April 28, 2013

PODE!: Stop Feeling So Damn Tired

I've been feeling super lethargic lately mostly due from the unbearable heat which we call summer in this fair capital of Manila. If I could pay a yaya to lug an air conditioner around wherever I went, I'd probably do it - I'm desperate. I'm also feeling lethargic from burnout with work and my energy levels are just not where they're supposed to be.

So I realized this is probably not just happening to me, and although it really isn't about overcoming domestic entropy, this'll help you get shiz done. I like the idea of rebuilding how you feel from the inside out, and get that natural energy boost without the help of Michael V.'s heavily endorsed happy pill. What's the smartest, fastest way to do that? By giving your stress hormone, cortisol, a bit of love.

This series on Project: Overcome Domestic Entropy is all about cortisol. Be kind to cortisol and it will be kind to you. Support healthy cortisol levels and you support your entire system. Here's a list of the top three common offenders among young professionals, and tips for how to turn it around:

It has never been chic to whine about how you need a cup of your Starbucks fix before you can properly function in the morning. 1.) It's Starbucks coffee, and 2.) It's Starbucks coffee. If you haven't discovered the wonders of artisanal coffee blends and the French Press yet, then it's about high time you did. But at least have it with eggs and toast for breakfast.

Life is busy, careers can be demanding, and bosses can be annoying. When you're stuck at the office after 9 in the evening trying to meet that deadline, you probably have a pot of kapeng barako next to you to make sure you don't doze off while trying to get things done.

Well, here’s the thing. Every time we get stressed our cortisol levels rise so we can rise to the occasion, too. That’s physiology happening right there. The thing is – sugar and caffeine do just the same – they spike cortisol, thereby spiking our blood sugar levels. Every time this happens our insulin spikes as well and over time high insulin levels contributes to inflammation and a slow, sluggish metabolism. Weight gain. Que horror.


You don't have to go cold turkey on coffee, but never down it on an empty stomach. It's key is to have some food in you before you ingest the stuff, to help blunt the spike in blood sugar. You may also want to consider lowering the amount of sugar you put in, or taking it out completely.

If extra energy is what you're looking for, then that starts with making healthy breakfasts a priority. Incorporate quality protein in your meal like Greek yogurt, organic eggs, or whole rolled oats. Also, chia seeds are an amazing source of energy. Have them sit in your milk before adding in the oatmeal and watch them puff up into mini sago balls.

I am guilty of this all the time.

You know how it starts out: You promise yourself that you'd watch just one episode of Game of Thrones, then it's lights out before 10. One episode then becomes five and before you know it, it's 4 in the morning and you have to be at work by 9 o'clock.

Why are we addicted to our nighttime routines? Well, it may have something to do with that burst of energy many of us have at night, we feel capable of accomplishing twice what we can during daytime hours. Yes, that’s cortisol coming out to play.

When we miss that ‘window’ of time to fall asleep, our cortisol levels rise, which means our energy will rise – and guess what else that means? Our blood sugar rises. Over time poor sleep can actually contribute to wrinkles (yikes), lower your metabolism (double yikes), and even decreased energy and sex drive (quadruple yikes).


Step away from the computer or the telly and hide your mobile phone. Many of us have already heard that using electronics before bed is a big no no, but for some reason it still seems like a huge challenge for many (including myself) to disconnect before bed. #21stcenturyproblems. Whether it’s work emails, googling, or Facebook stalking - it all results in compromised sleep.

Research has shown that two hours of exposure to a bright tablet screen at night reduced melatonin levels by about 22%. The suppression of melatonin has been directly linked to obesity and diabetes. Let’s step away from the device and treat 10pm like a mini vacay from work.

Try to regulate your sleeping pattern. We know every second of rest you can get is precious, but it's best develop a pattern for yourself without mummy and daddy telling you to go to bed.

It’s not uncommon to have a few cocktails with the girls or a bucket of beer with the guys after work. Especially when it may be the only thing you’ve found to help unwind at the end of a very long day. I get it. I myself enjoy a glass of Riesling or two with dinner - things are known to help people relax and even fall asleep at night.

But if you're the person who has two cocktails and then wakes up in the wee hours of the morning and can't get back to sleep, then you have a problem. This is the alcohol causing crazy cortisol dysregulation. It’s effect is even more powerful than sugar, as alcohol doesn’t go through the stomach absorption process, it goes straight to the liver and into the blood stream.


I'm not saying you should put down the bottle of wine and forget about that lychee martini forever. Just take a step back and really listen to your body. If you tend to have two glasses, cut back to one, and see how you respond. If you don't really have a close relationship with alcohol and only drink socially, then maybe now would be the time to walk away from it completely.

If you really need help sleeping, try some chamomile tea instead.

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