In a society where we’re steadily busy – whether because of work, play, life responsibilities or something else – we’re constantly hearing about how to increase motivation, energy and productivity and combat the nagging feelings of a sluggish brain and being tired.
The amount and quality of sleep you get, coupled with your melatonin levels, play a major role in why you might feel tired. But your daily habits and routines can also be affecting melatonin’s counterpart: a neuropeptide called orexin that signals your body to feel alert and awake.
Melatonin and orexin
You’re likely familiar with melatonin and its role in regulating your circadian rhythm, energy balance and sleep cues. Natural melatonin production can decrease with age, light exposure or disrupted sleep cycles and can affect insulin and glucose sensitivity as well as focus and energy during your wake periods.
Orexin, on the other hand, focuses on your wakefulness. It helps you stay alert and maintain motivated, energizing behaviors. If something is keeping you awake or alert, it’s increasing or signaling orexin and stimulating your body to maintain energy and focus to achieve a goal.
How to increase orexin levels
Just like with melatonin for sleep, you can help your body naturally produce more orexin during the times you need to feel active and motivated to do work or focus. By stimulating your system and regulating your habits and cycles you can trigger this neurotransmitter to keep you feeling awake throughout the day.
- Increase exercise: Exercise has long been a popular and effective way to increase energy, but getting your body moving increases orexin levels, improving cognition and your mental and physical health. In fact, caffeine works on the same neurotransmitters as orexin, but just 20 minutes of exercise produces the equivalent energy boost of a cup of coffee (and maintains it for longer) without caffeine’s side effects like jitters and crashing.
- Decrease higher glycemic carbs or increase protein intake: Orexin is stimulated by low glucose, meaning when you eat foods that are high in carbs, glucose levels rise and slow orexin production. Choosing foods that are low on the glycemic index such as nuts or leafy greens helps your body stimulate orexin and stay more alert, whereas you can expect to feel less motivated and awake after consuming high-carb foods. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to avoid carbs. Eating protein can suppress glucose, the opposite effect to carbs, so having protein with your meal should help you not to feel as tired after eating.
- Condense your eating windows: Fasting has been found to make humans more alert as it improves brain function and stimulates motivating behaviors. By establishing boundaries that create fasting windows your body can release orexin, clearing brain fog, stimulating wakefulness and increasing focus.
Conversely, because your body chemistry uses both alert and rest signals to maintain a balanced system, adjusting these behaviors may also help you sleep better when it’s time to rest, meaning falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, experiencing deeper sleep and waking up refreshed.
Orexin and appetite
One of the motivating actions that orexin regulates is your appetite, meaning the more your body produces, the more you may experience cravings, so there’s a balance between increasing orexin to boost energy and alertness and maintain controlled eating windows for clarity and focus. This is where the structure of intermittent fasting can help you maintain habits to keep you feeling more driven and awake throughout the day.
After choosing the IF plan that’s right for your body and lifestyle, creating a plan and implementing support for fighting cravings and establishing new habits will help you achieve the long-term metabolic health benefits that improve your focus and alertness when you need it most.
Temper’s Citravarin Fasting Mints are made specifically to balance your biology and curb your cravings to help you power through to your eating windows and unlock your body’s natural ability to thrive – awake and asleep – without hunger pangs and sluggishness knocking at your door.
These packs also include support from a dedicated personal fasting coach to help you understand what your body is going through, help you design a plan that works for you and provide guidance and encouragement so that you can help yourself to feel less tired throughout the day.