How to boost your energy for life and stop feeling tired all the time

Feeling tired all the time? Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor, and fitness expert Stacey Griffith have teamed up to bring you the remedy: the best way to eat, exercise and sleep, tailor-made to your needs. Read on – and prepare to supercharge the way you live!

When the two of us– the Sleep Doctor and the Fitness Expert– started talking about our lives and our vocations, namely, educating people about sleep and movement, we discovered that the biggest complaint among our patients and clients was: ‘Why am I always so exhausted?’

This question was always topic number one whenever either of us did interviews, too. It seemed like everyone was slogging through their days, sleeping fitfully all night, and living in a low-energy loop.

Michael had been studying and teaching the science of sleep for decades, and he knew that exhaustion was often the result of living out of sync with one’s circadian rhythms, the inner clocks that dictate the ebb and flow of hormones, body temperature and blood pressure.


If you live against your natural rhythms– for example, your body wants you to go to sleep at 9pm, but you force yourself to stay up later – you are at high risk for sleep deprivation, chronic stress, mood disorders, lowered immunity and compromised overall health.

When you’re out of sync with the master clocks in your brain (specifically, in your hypothalamus), all your energy goes towards waging battles within. However, when you live in sync with your circadian clocks, you are not fighting against your own nature and have energy to spare.

And it’s not just about sleep. We discovered that living against your genetically predetermined chronotype – your body’s natural disposition to be awake or asleep at certain times– is the reason you’re so tired all the time. So how can you stop feeling tired?

We’ve devised four different chronotypes based on the sleeping and waking habits of our animal counterparts, and each one has a different inner schedule based on your genes: Lion (early riser), Wolf (late riser), Bear (in between) and Dolphin (insomniac).

Moving, eating and sleeping in sync with your chronotype by sticking to a daily schedule will give you renewed energy, like a brand-new pack of shiny batteries. You’ll stop saying, ‘I’m so exhausted!’ and start feeling the power to move your personal mountains.

In other words: there is no one-size-fits-all energising solution. But there is a programme tailored to your chronotype. Our two areas of expertise– circadian timing and movement– have come together to create a whole new concept of how to improve people’s health and feel more of what we all desperately crave: energy.

Read on to discover which chronotype you are and how to stop feeling tired…


  1. The slightest sound or light can keep me awake or wake me up
  2. Food is not a great passion for me
  3. I usually wake up before my alarm rings
  4. I can’t sleep well on planes, even with an eye mask and earplugs
  5. I’m often irritable due to fatigue
  6. I worry inordinately about small details
  7. I have been diagnosed by a doctor or self-diagnosed as an insomniac
  8. In school, I was anxious about my grades
  9. I lose sleep ruminating about what happened in the past and what might happen in the future
  10. I’m a perfectionist

If you chose true on seven or more of the above ten questions, you are a Dolphin. Otherwise, continue to part two (below)


If you had nothing to do the next day and slept in as long as you liked, when would you wake up?

  • Before 6.30am (1)
  • Between 6.30am and 8.45am (2)
  • After 8.45am (3)

When you have to get out of bed by a certain time, do you use an alarm clock?

  • No need. You wake up on your own at just the right time (1)
  • Yes, plus one or two snoozes (2)
  • Yes, with a backup alarm and multiple snoozes (3)

When do you wake up at the weekend?

  • The same time as during the week (1)
  • 45 to 90 minutes later than during the week (2)
  • Over 90 minutes later than during the week (3)

How do you experience jet lag?

  • You struggle (1)
  • You adjust within 48 hours (2)
  • You adjust quickly, especially when travelling west (3)

What’s your favourite meal? Think time of day rather than the menu

  • Breakfast (1)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (3)

If you were to go back to school and take an exam again, when would you prefer to start the test for maximum focus and concentration?

  • Early morning (1)
  • Early afternoon (2)
  • Mid afternoon (3)

If you could choose any time of day to do an intense workout, when would you do it?

  • Before 8am (1)
  • Between 8am and 4pm (2)
  • After 4pm (3)

When are you most alert?

  • One to two hours post wake-up (1)
  • Two to four hours post wake-up (2)
  • Four to six hours post wake-up (3)

If you could choose your own five-hour workday, which block of consecutive hours would you choose?

  • 4am to 9am (1)
  • 9am to 2pm (2)
  • 4pm to 9pm (3)

Do you consider yourself…

  • Left-brained–a strategic and analytical thinker (1)
  • A balanced thinker (2)
  • Right-brained–a creative and insightful thinker (3)

Do you nap?

  • Never (1)
  • Sometimes at the weekend (2)
  • If you took a nap, you’d be up all night (3)

If you had to do two hours of hard physical labour, moving furniture or chopping wood, when would you choose to do it for maximum efficiency and safety?

  • 8am to 10am (1)
  • 11am to 1pm (2)
  • 6pm to 8pm (3)

Regarding your overall health, which statement sounds like you?

  • ‘I work out a lot, eat well and avoid the bad stuff’ (1)
  • ‘I try to do the right things. Sometimes I succeed’ (2)
  • ‘I hate exercise and love food, and that’s not going to change’ (3)

What’s your comfort level with taking risks?

  • Low (1)
  • Medium (2)
  • High (3)

Which do you consider yourself?

  • Future oriented with big plans and clear goals (1)
  • Informed by the past, hopeful about the future and aspiring to live in the moment (2)
  • Present oriented. It’s all about what feels good now (3)

How would you characterise yourself as a student?

  • Brilliant (1)
  • Solid (2)
  • Slacker (3)

When you first wake up in the morning, are you…

  • Bright-eyed (1)
  • Dazed but not confused (2)
  • Groggy, eyelids made of cement (3)

How would you describe your appetite within a half an hour of waking?

  • Very hungry (1)
  • Hungry (2)
  • Not at all hungry (3)

How often do you suffer from insomnia symptoms?

  • Rarely, only when adjusting to a new time zone (1)
  • Occasionally, when going through a rough time or are stressed out (2)
  • Chronically. It comes in waves (3)

How would you describe your overall life satisfaction?

  • High (0)
  • Good (2)
  • Low (4)

SCORING: 19 to 32: Lion  «33 to 47: Bear  «48 to 61: Wolf


Like their natural namesakes, human Lions wake up hungry, full of energy that maintains itself to early afternoon. They have total cognitive clarity in the early morning, when most others are still waking, but around 5pm their energy starts a rapid decline. They force themselves to go to social events at night – ideally, they’d be in bed by 9pm. They prioritise health, exercise regularly and eat well. They have the lowest BMI of all chronotypes. Optimistic, ambitious, emotionally stable, Lions are fearless, confident and driven. They are goal-oriented agenda setters, problem solvers and list makers.


Human Wolves, like wild ones, are most alert at sundown and don’t tire until midnight or later. Mornings pass with brains half-asleep. Most Wolves aren’t hungry at breakfast but will drink lots of coffee to clear brain fog. By afternoon they’re ravenous so have a big dinner and then snack. Exercise? Wolves would rather drink wine, eat cheese and debate until late. They have the highest BMI of all chronotypes and are impulsive, creative and happiest trying new things. While they spark with ideas all day they only concentrate well after 2pm. Morning moodiness can be challenging, but they won’t shy away from an issue.


The most common chronotype, human Bears, just like their animal counterparts, are diurnal – active by day, restful by night. Waking is a long process but by mid-morning, Bears are alert. Energy plummets in the afternoon, rising again in the evening (their peak social energy conveniently coincides with happy hour) before slowly declining until bed. They love food, so often have an above-average BMI. As extroverts, Bears think and work best in groups. In relationships, they avoid conflict, and their moods reflect their circumstances: when things are good, Bears feel good; when things are bad, they get depressed.


In nature, Dolphins are unihemispheric sleepers – one half of their brain sleeps while the other stays alert. Their human equivalents are insomniacs who can relate to feeling half-awake and half-asleep 24/7. Their BMI tends to be lower than average but not because of obsessive exercise; instead calories are burnt by fidgeting and worrying. Dolphins tend to be caring and attentive parents and partners. But they’re so conflict-averse, small issues grow to big problems. They hit their creative peak mid-morning and their thinking peak in the evening. They’re often too wound up at night to relax before bed.

How to sleep, move and eat to stop feeling tired all the time, according to your chronotype


A major cause of sleep deprivation is living against your chronotype. Waking and going to bed according to your circadian rhythm is the best way to optimise your sleep so that even if you get fewer hours than you’d like, the quality of sleep will improve.

The key is to go to bed when your body wants you to, which is about an hour or two after the melatonin (the sleep hormone) secretions start flowing. And the most important factor for a strong, health-promoting routine for all types is a consistent waking time, both on weekdays and weekends.


Lions: 10pm Your body starts secreting melatonin around mid evening and screams at you to get in bed at 9pm. If you force yourself to stay awake until midnight, when your internal alarm goes off at 5am you will feel exhausted the next day.

Bears: 11pm Most of us are forced to live on a Bear’s schedule – it makes sense, since half the population are Bears. If you’re a Bear, your pineal gland [a pea-shaped gland in the brain] starts secreting melatonin around 10pm, signalling to the body that it’s time to shut down.

Wolves: 12.30am If you’re a Wolf and got into bed at 11pm, you’d wind up lying awake for hours until your internal clock signalled sleep readiness. Wolves are usually wide awake then because their melatonin release is delayed for an hour or two. Getting into bed too early and not sleeping can trigger anxiety, which makes it even harder to shut down.

Dolphins: 12 midnight A hard rule for insomniacs is ‘Don’t go to bed unless you’re sleepy’, but for tired and wired Dolphins, wired often dominates tired, and you don’t feel sleepy at bedtime. If you go to bed anyway, not falling asleep right away can set off an anxiety/insomnia cycle that will keep you up all night.


In the early hours of the morning, your body stops secreting melatonin and starts releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger a rise in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Each chronotype’s ideal wake time is one to two hours after this. We recommend that Bears wake up at 7am, Lions at 6am and Wolves at 8am. The Dolphin’s ideal wake time is harder to gauge; according to their biology, they are not designed to have deep, continuous sleep, but if they are able to pass out by 1am, their recommended wake time is 7am.

A restorative 45-60-minute nap at 1pm (for Lions) or 2pm (for Bears) is fine and will coincide with a drop in cortisol and dip in blood sugar after lunch. Wolves can nap but only for up to 20 minutes. Dolphins– no naps. EVER.


While melatonin secretions taper off for most of us by 5am, for Wolves it’s still going at 6am, which suppresses stimulating cortisol. To help reduce the groggy feeling when your body is fighting waking, all chronotypes should try these…

« 20 minutes of direct sunlight tells the pineal gland it’s daytime. After waking, go outside and open your eyes (don’t look directly into the sun and don’t wear sunglasses).

« Cloudy day? Instead of going outside, drink water. We lose at least a litre of water every night.

« Take a cold shower, which will increase oxygen levels, improve circulation, lower blood pressure, boost cardiac function and immunity. It will also increase your feel-good endorphins– adrenaline and dopamine – by up to 500 per cent. Start with a normal-temperature shower, then turn it to colder than is comfortable and stand under the water for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.


The World Health Organization recommends that all adults aged between 18 and 64 should get between 150 and 300 minutes per week of any combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic physical activity. We should also sit less and replace sedentary time with light movement. If you follow our programme, you will hit those benchmarks. By moving throughout the day, every day, you’ll boost your energy and speed your metabolism.


Try simple yoga stretches such as: Child’s pose: kneel down with knees wide apart, keeping your big toes touching and your buttocks resting on your heels. Fold forward and rest your torso between your thighs, aiming to get your forehead on the floor, and extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing down

Cat-cow: get on all fours, inhale, drop your belly downwards and lift your head, moving your gaze up. As you exhale, arch your back and drop your head, likea cat. Move with your breath through ten rounds.


After sitting down for an hour, your body fluids begin to stagnate, and blood flow slows down. Shaking is the antidote to this as it sends blood and oxygen into your hips, shoulders, neck and lower back. To get the shaking effect, try these exercises:

Neck looseners: slowly turn your head from side to side.

Arm rotations: stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms to form a T-shape. Make 10 clockwise and 10 anticlockwise small circles.

Leg swings: stand up with feet shoulder-width apart, and rest an anchoring hand on a desk or table. Put all your weight on your right leg and swing the left leg back and forth like a pendulum. Then switch to the other side and repeat.


Five minutes of jumping when you feel your energy begin to slump has the same heart-energising, brain-clearing effect as a shot of espresso or a power nap. It unleashes feel-good dopamine, serotonin and energising adrenaline. Bouncing also increases heart rate and blood flow, floods your body with fresh oxygen, burns calories, improves coordination, strengthens bones and lowers the risk of injury. A recent study showed that jumping for ten minutes daily gave participants the same heart benefits as jogging for three times as long. Try: burpees, jumping jacks or skipping.


From the age of 30, muscle mass dwindles by three to eight per cent every decade. The less muscle we have, the greater our risk of injury, disability, obesity, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, heart disease, joint stiffness and even decreased height. To build muscles, try squats, crunches or this triceps dip…

Sit on the edge of a chair, feet flat. Place your palms flat on the edge of the chair next to your hips, fingers facing out. Now move your bottom forward so you are supporting your body weight with your hands and feet. Slowly lower your bottom until it’s six inches from the floor. Raise yourself by pressing into your palms and using your triceps muscles.


Good balance improves your coordination, which you need as you get older, and calms you before bed. Try simple yoga poses, such as the tree pose…

While standing, shift your weight to the left foot and place your right foot on your left ankle or on your inner thigh above the knee. Put your hands in prayer at the centre of your chest and stare at a fixed spot on the wall in front of you. Then switch legs.

Combine balance poses with deep breaths– inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four– to stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from your neck all the way down into your intestines. When stimulated, this nerve switches off your fight-or-flight nervous system and switches on your rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system. This shuts down the flow of the stress hormone cortisol, which, in turn, increases the release of calming serotonin to augment the sleep-inducing effects of melatonin.


There are five particular times during the day when you need to get up and move to get your juices flowing: first thing in the morning, mid-morning, after lunch, mid-evening and before bed. A short movement break – for example, taking a walk, doing 20 jumping jacks, stretching – doesn’t require the body to use up a significant amount of energy to signal the hormones that control alertness to ‘wake up’.

Everyone should begin the day with Stretch and end with Balance. Otherwise, your Shake, Bounce and Build schedule depends on your chronotype…

Lions Wake and Stretch  «Shake mid-morning «Build in the afternoon  «As your energy falls off a cliff in the evening, you should Bounce to create a second wind  «Balance before falling into bed.

Bears Wake and Stretch «Shake mid-morning «Bounce to reset in the afternoon «Build your muscles in the evening «Balance one hour before bed.

Wolves Wake and Stretch «Bounce mid-morning to clear your brain fog «Shake in the afternoon when you fall into the concentration zone and forget to move. «Build later in the evening when you feel your most energetic «Do Balance moments before bed to quiet your active mind.

Dolphins Wake and Stretch «Bounce mid-morning to jolt the half of your brain that’s still sleeping awake «Build in the afternoon when your energy peaks «Shake in the evening to calm your spike in nervous energy «Finish the day with Balance to prepare yourself for sleep.

READ MORE: The best BBC dramas


The key to eating for more energy is to eat in tune with the rhythm for your chronotype. When you eat is more important than what or how much you eat.

It all stems from getting the last meal of the day right, because going to bed with a full stomach causes skyrocketing blood sugar and digestive problems, plus it disrupts sleep as well as having a negative effect on sleep quality.

To make sure you get your ‘last bite’ at the best time for you, subtract three or four hours from your bedtime…

Lions Bedtime is 10pm; your last bite should be no later than 7pm.

Bears Bedtime is 11pm; your last bite should be no later than 8pm.

Wolves Bedtime is 12.30am; your last bite should be no later than 8.30pm. But the earlier you stop eating, the better for your health.

Dolphins Bedtime is 12 midnight; your last bite should be no later than 8pm.


«Eat two meals and a snack on a consistent schedule Our metabolism is stuck in neutral when we eat– meaning we’re not burning fat. Reducing meal frequency to two meals a day with a snack on a regular schedule, with a longer period between the first and last meal, can have numerous positive effects on our health: it reduces inflammation, improves circadian rhythmicity (better sleep; more daytime energy) and boosts cellular repair and regeneration (disease prevention and anti-ageing).

«Swap your meal patterns

Traditionally, we eat the biggest meal of the day at the end of the day, but it’s actually healthier and more energy-boosting to do the reverse. A recent study showed that adults who ate a substantial breakfast had a more stable blood sugar level in the afternoon and evening than non-breakfast eaters.

«Choose high-quality food ‘fuel’

Food is the fuel which sustains our body battery. The quality of our fuel, just like the grade of petrol we put in our cars, determines how well our systems function. Choose high quality ‘fuel’ – plants (think fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains) and lean proteins to keep your engine clean. Sugar and grains, on the other hand, clog our machine and weaken our energy system.

«Stay pH neutral

Your body has to retain a neutral pH balance between acid and alkaline. However, coffee and alcohol, and foods including dairy, meat, grains, sugar, fruit, honey, syrup, vinegar and soy sauce, tilt your body towards the acidic end of the spectrum, making your body work hard to get back to neutral and crave more acidic (and sugary) foods. Instead, opt for leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, coconut oil, lentils and beans – which help balance your body and reduce sugar cravings.

This is an edited extract from Energize!: Go From Shattered to Smashing It in 30 Days by Dr Michael Breus and Stacey Griffith, which is published by Random House, priced £14.99*