Sometimes it feels like there are simply not enough gallons of coffee, banger Rihanna tracks, or naps in the world to keep you running at a human level of energy all day long. That’s NBD if it happens occasionally, but if you’re perpetually exhausted, that’s generally considered abnormal.
“If you wake up and never feel rested, feel groggy and tired throughout the day, or nod off in things you don’t want to fall asleep in, that’s a problem,” says Lawrence Epstein, MD, medical director of clinical sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In some cases, fatigue can be a sign of a more serious health issue, but most of the time it’s due to a lack of sleep, Dr. Epstein says.
So, what can you do to get more energy when you’re really, truly tired? “Really there is no substitute for not getting enough sleep,” Dr. Epstein says. Sadly, sleep is not always an option when you need it, so sometimes you have to find ways to cope until you can go to bed.
Here are some strategies that will help you get better sleep at night and stay more energized during the day — besides, you know, sleep.

Exercising in the a.m. is ideal, because it enhances your mood and makes you feel more alert throughout the rest of the day, says Daniel Barone, MD, a neurologist at the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Sleep Medicine. But if waking up early to work out isn’t doable for you, aim to exercise as close to the end of your workday as possible, so you sleep better at night, he adds.

While a bowl of your favorite sweet cereal might be your go-to morning meal, eating straight-up carbs and sugar can cause a quick energy spike, and then a crash. In order to keep your energy levels stable throughout the morning, aim to eat carbohydrates that digest slowly paired with protein and satisfying healthy fats, says Tracy Lockwood, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in New York City. For example, rolled oats, dense sprouted whole grain bread, and high-fiber berries with avocado, eggs, or Greek yogurt, she suggests.

Sitting all day at a computer can certainly make you feel groggy. “We tend to be most sleepy when sitting in a sedentary position,” Dr. Barone says. If you have to sit all day for your job, try to stand up, move around, and be active when you can, he suggests. Even if that means getting up to use the bathroom or talk to a coworker, it’s important.

Taking a nap can be a double-edged sword, because if you sleep too long you’ll have trouble sleeping at night, Dr. Epstein says. The key is to keep your nap short if you need to be refreshed later on, he says. In general, 20 to 30 minutes tends to be the sweet spot, he says.