Looking exhausted after sleepless nights with your baby? Wondering how to get more energy without resorting to yet another cup of coffee? Try these tips to beat the effects of fatigue.
1. Try a cold compress
If the skin around your eyes is puffy and swollen, try a cold compress, such as a flannel soaked in cool water. “Doing this will constrict blood vessels, which will reduce puffiness and make your eyes feel more comfortable,” says opthalmologist Larry Benjamin of the Royal College of Opthalmologists.
2. Chill your eye cream
“I’ve kept my eye cream in the fridge since Jessica was a baby,” says Sharon, 28, mum to Sophie, 18 months, Jessica, 3, Stuart, 9, and Andrew, 10. “It reduces puffiness around my eyes and wakes me up, too.”
3. Give yourself a face massage
A good cleanse can work wonders. “Spend two minutes really working the cleanser into your face,” says make-up artist Ruby Hammer, co-founder of Ruby & Millie Cosmetics. “The massage will get the blood flowing, brightening your complexion.”
4. Eat blueberries for breakfast
“Purple berries, tea, onions and apples contain the antioxidants polyphenols, which relax the arteries to increase blood flow. Blood will pump more effectively around the body, helping to transport oxygen, which may make you feel more alert and look less drained,” says Dr Carrie Ruxton, health nutritionist.
5. Curl your lashes
For the final touch, dig out your eyelash curlers. “Curled eyelashes really open up the eyes and make you look much more awake,” says professional make-up artist Jemma Kidd. “If you then add a lengthening mascara, it will make your eyes look even bigger.”
6. Cut down on caffeine
“Caffeine gives you a short-term energy burst and boosts adrenaline, but also causes your blood sugar levels to drop later, with the result that you’ll probably want another cup after 45 minutes – this time with a snack, too,” says Ian Marber, nutrition consultant at The Food Doctor.
If you’re stressed, the adrenaline you get from caffeine can make you more stressed. “If you’re consuming lots of caffeine it’s likely your adrenal glands will be overworked, which means you’re less likely to sleep well,” says Ian.
If you’re a coffee addict, rather than going cold turkey, switch to tea. “It contains about 50%-70% of the caffeine in coffee, so is ‘safer’,” explains Ian. And if you love your tea, try switching to green or white tea. “It still contains some caffeine but not as much, so ‘withdrawal’ will be at a minimum.” Alternatively, change to caffeine-free tea or coffee.
“I used to drink about 12-15 cups of tea a day,” says Rachel, 33, mum to Ben and Will, 4 months. “I cut right down when I was pregnant, but once the twins were born it went right up again. I was unhappy with how much caffeine I was drinking, especially as I was breastfeeding. Then I came across decaffeinated Earl Grey tea, which I loved. Rather than reducing my energy, changing to decaffeinated tea has made me feel healthier and more energetic.”
7. Avoid too much sugar
“Eating foods with a high glycaemic index raises your blood sugar level very quickly, so you get short-term energy but feel tired soon after,” explains Ian.
It’s almost impossible to cut out sugar altogether. Instead, swap sugary snacks with fruit. “Apple and banana cut up into pieces is the ultimate grown-up fast food. Better still, throw in some protein such as a few Brazil nuts or a small handful of pumpkin seeds. This slows down the speed at which sugar reaches your bloodstream,” says Ian.
When you do indulge in something sugary, Ian recommends waiting until after you’ve eaten a main meal, when the sugar is absorbed more slowly.
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Tiredness and alcohol
Alcohol when you’re breastfeeding comes with its own set of concerns and considerations, but do mums who aren’t breastfeeding have anything to worry about it? A glass of wine at the end of a hard day can be lovely, but it’s not without some problems you may not be aware of.
“It acts just like a simple sugar – it makes your blood sugar level spike and then fall, so you’re more likely to want a second glass, or to eat badly or more than you need, after having it,” explainsnutrition consultant Ian.
What’s more, if you’re also having too much caffeine and sugar during the day, your adrenal glands will be overstimulated. “In this instance having a drink in the evenings will probably get in the way of a good night’s sleep,” says Ian.
When you want a glass of wine in the evening, Ian suggests having your drink with your main course and not before. “The alcohol will slow down the absorption of sugars,” he says.