Optimizing Your Energy
If you are experiencing low energy and are mentally exhausted, you can balance yourself by syncing your energy rhythms. Syncing the rhythms that apply to you allows for optimal energy, helping you become more effective and efficient in life. The three rhythms are infradian, circadian, and ultradian. We all run on circadian and ultradian rhythms, but if you are a woman who ovulates, you also have an infradian rhythm.
Three Signs of Being Out of Sync
- disrupted sleep, digestion, and mood
- inability to focus, mental exhaustion, and low energy
- confusion with changing mental, emotional, and physiological needs
Working against our natural rhythms imbalances our hormones leading to PMS, weight gain, and chronic ailments. Being out of sync can make us feel creatively stuck and miss out on our most productive timeframes. It also affects learning and retention. It leads to emotional dysregulation and strained relationships.
A circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake rhythm in a 24 hour cycle creating physical, mental, and behavioral changes.
Ultradian rhythms are rest-activity cycles that move throughout the day in 90-120-minute cycles. Physiological changes in heart rate, hormonal levels, muscle tension, and brain-wave activity all increase during the first part of the cycle—and so does alertness. Between 90-120 minutes the physiological measures decline signaling the body and mind to rest and recover.
The most well-known example of an infradian rhythm is the menstrual cycle in women which typically lasts around 28 days. This four part biological cycle impacts physical and mental health.
My Personal Story
I’ve been great with being in sync with my circadian rhythm, but I was not familiar with my infradian rhythms. I struggled trying to keep the same routine consistently day in and day out, over the course of the month. When I couldn’t, I thought something was wrong with me. Why can’t I keep it together? I tried to force myself to have energy when I didn’t. I struggled to go uphill when my body was designed to go downhill and vice versa. I assumed I wasn’t disciplined enough and felt ashamed. I was unaware of the energy that shifts over the course of the month. I thought I needed to just try harder but was unsuccessful. Knowing how to harness the energy of the four phases could have saved me so much time, energy, and unnecessary frustration.
Once I started working full-time, I noticed burnout and exhaustion at the end of a long day. Frequent breaks are not typically permitted in the American workplace. Breaks are short and few. Most people pushed through with caffeine.
As I learned about these three energy rhythms, I adjusted my lifestyle to work in harmony with my needs and experienced immediate results. For example, PMS and cramps disappeared. Instead of dreading my cycle, I fell in love with how the female body works and the gifts of each phase. When it came to my work, I was prepared for when I’d be the most creative, extroverted, or focused. I organized and batched out tasks best suited during certain times of the month. As a result, my productivity increased. I shared this information with the women in my life and they experienced great results as well. Here are three ways to start syncing now.
How to Sync Up with Your Infradian Rhythm
- Start by tracking your menstrual cycle to understand the length and timing of each phase (menstruation, follicular, ovulation, luteal).
- Observe how your energy levels, mood, and physical well-being vary during each phase.
- Design a routine that aligns with your energy levels and emotional state for each phase of your cycle. For example, in the menstruation phase, physical energy is decreased and rest is a priority. However, brain activity is higher allowing for enhanced processing of information. During the follicular phase, the brain is great at idea generation and planning but struggles with lengthy focus. The body performs peak cardiovascular abilities during this phase. In ovulation, communication and conflict resolution skills are enhanced while the body craves high-intensity exercise. In the luteal phase, the mind and body experience a long steady flow of energy ideal for the completion of tedious tasks, projects, and strength training.
- Be flexible and adapt your schedule as needed to accommodate your changing needs.
- Check out the book In the Flow by Alissa Vitti for more in-depth information about this topic.
How to Sync up with Your Circadian Rhythms
- Go to bed and wake the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body’s internal clock.
- During the day, spend time outdoors or open curtains to expose yourself to natural sunlight. Light exposure signals your body that it’s daytime and supports a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit the intake of caffeine and other stimulants in the hours leading up to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Avoid long late-afternoon naps.
- Avoid intense exercise three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid heavy or spicy meals three hours before bedtime.
- In the evening and before bedtime, minimize exposure to electronic screens and bright artificial lights. These can disrupt your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Before bed, practice meditation, deep breathing, or gentle stretches to relax and promote better sleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
How to Sync up with Your Ultradian Rhythms
Set a timer for 60-120 minutes. Notice how much time it takes before your concentration and energy begin to falter, signaling you’re hitting a low point in the ultradian rhythm.
- If your energy and concentration decrease before sixty minutes, use the Pomodoro method consisting of 25 minutes of activity followed by five minutes of rest. This is great for beginners. In time, energy and focus will increase. This method prevents burnout and maximum performance.
- If your energy and concentration decrease before ninety minutes, set the timer to take a ten-minute break every sixty minutes. This is the most commonly practiced method.
- If your energy and concentration are still going strong after ninety minutes, take a twenty-minute rest every two hours. Go for a short walk, nap, or simply close your eyes and focus on breathwork. The goal is to let your brain turn off.
Take Inspired Action
If this information resonates with you, consider syncing up your three energy rhythms. It will take practice to get familiar with tuning into your body’s rhythms, but you’ll enjoy how stable your energy levels become and how your concentration improves when you apply the methods above.