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Jolt of EnergyI gave up caffeine over 5 years ago.

Yet sometimes, I need to get a charge of energy to operate on, especially if I’ve gotten much less sleep than I normally do.  This was especially true for me when I volunteered at a boardgame convention.  I would volunteer for one of the vendors from 10am-6pm, then perhaps play boardgames for a few hours in the evening, then drive home 45 minutes.  With all of the excitement, I wouldn’t get much sleep, and then I’d get up early, and drive 45 minutes back to the convention.  I did this for 5 days straight.  By the last couple of days, I was operating on much less sleep than I normally get.

At another time, I also worked at a regular job that required me to be at work at 4am.  Once in a while, I’d have only a few hours of sleep.  While I was still drinking caffeine back then, I learned some tools to help me operate on little sleep without abusing my body too much with energy drinks or caffeine.

So, here is how to get an energy charge that lasts a few hours without taking a single ounce of caffeine or any kind of energy drink.

First, before you do, you need to get the basic down.  Make sure you’re not eating anything that day that will make you sleepier.  Thus, plan to only eat light food.  This means only vegetables or fruits, and maybe some nuts. Very little bread (and only if it’s to hold your sandwich) and no meat.  Furthermore, the less you eat, the better.

Digesting food is the second most energy intensive thing your body does (Sex tends to be the most).  Eating any kind of meat, processed carbs, processed foods, junk food, etc. takes your body a lot more energy to digest.  Thus when you’re already fighting the need to sleep, you want to avoid those kinds of foods temporarily.  That is, until you’ve gotten a full night of sleep or you’re ok with falling asleep very soon.

So, once you’ve got that taken care of, take a 30 minute break.  If you have less time than that, that’s ok.  You can do the two activities and do it in less time and still get an energy charge from it.  In that 30 minute break do this:

1)  For 20 minutes, lay your head down and close your eyes.  You can do this on a lunch table at a cafeteria, or laying down somewhere.  Preferably, at a location that’s not too noisy.  Set timer for 20 minutes.  For the first minute, visualize waking up feeling very energized.  This helps condition your body to restore part of your energy.  For the second minute, visualize gaining a lot of energy from your surroundings.  Afterward, simply lay back, visualizing relaxing on your favorite beach or mountain.  You most likely won’t actually fall asleep (as it’s hard with people around us or within a short time frame).  However, by visualizing yourself relaxing, you enter a deeper brain wave state which helps restore your energy.  Not quite like REM would, but it makes a big difference.

2)  Once your timer rings, sit back, and set timer for 10 minutes again.  This time, do Mindful Breathing Meditation.  This is the kind of meditation in which you focus on your breathing, while clearing your mind of your thoughts as much as possible.  You take deep breaths in that completely fill your stomach and chest area, and then you slowly exhale.  During this time you focus on letting go of as much of your thoughts as possible.

When I do those two activities combined during my breaks, I would come back feeling really invigorated and energetic.  I was good to go for several more hours, if not the rest of the work day.  Sometimes I’d only have 15 minutes to do this, so I’d break it down to 10 minutes of closing my eyes and 5 minutes of mindful breathing meditation.  It’s even possible to get some benefit by only doing just a few minutes of each – whatever your break time is.  The energy charge won’t be as much as a full 30 minutes, but you’ll still get one.

That’s it.  To be upfront, I do want to say that I know that a lot of people can operate well with less sleep than I can.  However, that’s been true for me before and after I stopped drinking caffeine.  Using these tools helped me operate temporarily well during sleep-deprived days without having to resort to caffeine.

In the long run, we do need to respect our bodies and give it the proper sleep it needs.  In the short run, we can can operate well without having to resort to abusing our bodies with caffeine or energy drinks.

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