By Corrie Pikul
Find the Right Time for Love
Seventy-nine percent of women crave sleep more than sex, found a national survey by the Better Sleep Council. And after a long day, you can barely muster the stamina for the two minutes it takes for your electric toothbrush to get the job done. There's a solution, says psychologist Laurie B. Mintz, PhD, the author of A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex, even if it's so obvious it's easy to dismiss: Don't wait until nighttime. Yes, that's when you have (or are supposed to have) some privacy, but it's also when testosterone, which is partially responsible for our sex drive, is at its lowest in both women and men, Mintz says. Testosterone is highest in the morning, and having sex at that time boosts your oxytocin levels. So if you follow Mintz's advice and schedule an a.m. tryst, you'll not only feel more energetic, but you should also feel more bonded to your partner for the rest of the day.
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Wake Up Like a Puppy Instead of a Bear
Before showing your sleepily scowling face to your family, turn it toward the sun for a half-hour or 45 minutes. Morning light is the cue for our brain and body that it's time to wake up, says Michael A. Grandner, PhD, a research associate at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers believe that sun exposure inhibits the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, helping us rise and shine. Even a small amount of sunlight can help, but for the best effects, Grandner recommends 10,000 lux, or the amount you get from the unobstructed sun on a clear day. Most indoor lights only have a couple hundred lux, so if you often have trouble starting your day, Grandner suggests investing in a light box.
Treat Lunch Like Breakfast--to Have the Energy to Make Dinner
We know better than to skip our morning bowl of oatmeal, but lunch sometimes gets lost in a series of meetings, appointments and deadlines. Making your midday meal a priority can help keep your momentum going when you're chopping, stirring and serving dinner at home. Studies published in Nutrition Journal found that missing any meal during the day led to an overall greater feeling of fatigue by day's end.
Work Your Body to Have a Better Brainstorm
Exercise really does boost brainpower, was the conclusion of a recent analysis of 19 studies involving kids, teens and young adults published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study authors concluded that short workouts (10 to 40 minutes) led to an immediate improvement in cognitive performance and problem-solving. Break for a short recess about an hour before an afternoon meeting (which is probably just when you're starting to drag), and run up the stairs and do a few wall-sits. "The large muscles in the thighs and butt quickly get blood flowing to the brain," says John Ratey, MD, Harvard associate professor and the author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, reinvigorating it with oxygen, nutrients (like glucose) and performance-boosting chemicals. Ratey says that complicated moves like squat jumps, where you lift your arms above your head, are also a great way to activate your brain and turn on the cells you'll need for creative thinking and performance.
Get a Second Wind with These Coffee Alternatives
You're fantasizing about catapulting into the couch when your mentor invites you to an after-work drink-and-debrief session. Perk up with a non-alcoholic cocktail of sparkling water and citrus. You're more likely to be dehydrated by evening, and even just a 1 percent decrease from optimal levels can make you cranky, unfocused and fatigued, found a small but important study in The Journal of Nutrition. Adding a slice of lemon may sharpen your banter: A study at the U.K.'s Northumbria University found that this scent can boost mood and improve cognitive performance.
Snack on This Before Sweating
Putting some fuel in your tank before working out will help you push harder--and as a bonus, burn more calories, says Heidi Skolnik, MS, CDN, FACSM, a nutritionist who's worked with Juilliard School dancers as well as members of the New York Knicks. Use this pre-exercise snack as an opportunity to boost your magnesium levels, as women with deficiencies of this mineral had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks than they did after their levels were restored, found Forrest H. Nielsen, PhD, a research nutritionist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Nielsen adds that we lose magnesium through sweat.) Women should aim to get more than 220 mg of magnesium per day; men, 260. Good sources include almonds and pumpkin seeds (try trail mix with those ingredients an hour or so before your workout) or celery stalks with cashew butter.
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By Corrie Pikul