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    Consumer Reports

    Be more awake by day, sleep better at night

    Dehydration can zap energy. To compensate, drink regularly during the day.
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    Dehydration can zap energy. To compensate, drink regularly during the day.

    No one is immune to the occasional bout of low energy and weariness. But timed right, small changes in your routine can give you a lift during the day and improve your sleep.

    See your doctor if you have other symptoms — such as unexplained weight gain or loss, fever, shortness of breath, morning headaches, or difficulty concentrating — or you recently started a new medication.

    Otherwise, give these strategies a try for a month to see whether your energy level reboots.

    Morning

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    The brain makes melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness, when it’s dark.

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    Morning light helps stop the production of melatonin, says Shelby F. Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

    Upon awakening, open the curtains or shades, sit by a window while you eat breakfast, or take a morning walk. Continue to expose yourself to light during the day to keep your body’s sleep-wake cycle synchronized.

    Even mild dehydration can zap energy, memory, and attention, according to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Older adults can have a tougher time staying hydrated, in part because the mechanism that triggers thirst might become less efficient with age.

    To compensate, make it a point to drink at regular intervals throughout the day, beginning in the morning.

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    Coffee and tea count toward your hydration (they have only a mild diuretic effect, if any), as do foods with a high water content, such as soup and most fruits and vegetables.

    Afternoon

    Get moving. It seems counterintuitive, but physical activity is a powerful antidote for fatigue.

    And it doesn’t have to be strenuous: In a small University of Georgia study, couch potatoes who engaged in a 20-minute, low-intensity aerobic exercise routine three times per week for six weeks reduced their fatigue level by 65 percent; those who engaged in moderate-intensity exercise lowered it by 49 percent.

    At this point, stop sipping coffee and tea. Thanks to their caffeine, both are great pick-me-ups, but it’s a good idea to limit the stimulant to 400 milligrams per day (two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee) and taper off by late afternoon. Caffeine can disrupt sleep when it’s consumed even six hours before bedtime.

    Evening

    Power down. Dim the lights, switch off the TV, and put away smartphones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bedtime. This will trigger your brain to start producing melatonin.

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    Also, make over your bedtime habits. To get the seven to nine hours of slumber you need to restore body and mind, improve your sleep hygiene. Keep your bedroom dark, use your bed only for sleep (no pets allowed), and stick with a regular sleep schedule.

    Address your stress. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate physical fatigue from the mental drain caused by life’s demands and worries.

    Harris recommends listening to a meditation or relaxation app before bed.

    For more, go to www.ConsumerReports.org.