It seems that more and more of us are facing tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis. In fact, a lot of people assume that being tired all the time is just part of being a busy person living and working in the 21st century.
Sometimes, the cause is clear – perhaps you’ve been putting in too many hours at the office, or maybe you have just moved to a new home. However, the reason isn’t always so obvious. If you often catch yourself thinking, “Why am I so tired all the time?” this is the article for you.
I’m going to outline some of the most common causes of tiredness, and tell you how to boost your energy levels.
Why are you so tired all the time?
Lack of sleep
We all know that a lack of sleep causes tiredness, but did you know that many people don’t even realize that they aren’t getting enough rest every night?
The average adult aged between 18 and 60 needs at least 7 hours of sleep every night if they want to enjoy optimal health. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 of us aren’t meeting this target.
A lack of sleep doesn’t just result in fatigue – it also places you at elevated risk of a range of diseases, including diabetes.
Your diet has a huge impact on the way you feel. A poor diet lacking in nutrients will leave you drained and fatigued, as will too many processed foods and added sugar.
Your body requires a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to synthesise the neurotransmitters that regulate sleep, so be sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruit.
Eating candy and other junk food can give you a brief energy hit, but you will soon become tired again when your blood sugar levels crash. It’s best to eat healthy meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day as this promotes steady energy levels.
Alcohol and caffeine are best avoided or enjoyed in small quantities because both disrupt your natural sleep patterns. Do not drink them in the evening shortly before going to bed.
Finally, if you don’t drink enough water, you may become dehydrated. This quickly results in fatigue and a diminished attention span.
Sitting too much and not moving
You might think that sitting down would conserve energy but you’d be wrong. Movement is a great way to beat fatigue.
You don’t have to work out for hours either. Research has shown that just a single 20-minute bout of moderate exercise has an energy-boosting effect. People who spend more time sitting around during the day tend to report getting less sleep at night.
Regular exercise promotes high-quality sleep because it increases the time we spend in the “deep sleep” part of the sleep cycle, which is known for its restorative properties. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of sleep per week.
Ideally, you should exercise every day. Avoid exercising in the late evening as this can stimulate your body and make it harder to drift off when you go to bed.
We all come up against stressful situations from time to time. You might be under a lot of pressure at work, be facing relationship issues, or be worrying about your finances.
Stress can wreck havoc with your sleep patterns and not only because your worries can keep you up at night.More than 40% of adults reporting that they only experience “fair” or poor sleep during periods of stress.
Our bodies produce adrenalin, cortisol, and other “fight or flight” chemicals when under stress. This process is an excellent way of preparing the body for an emergency but it makes getting a good night’s sleep difficult.
What if you have tried to make positive lifestyle changes yet still feel exhausted? You may have an undiagnosed medical condition.
The following illnesses can cause ongoing fatigue. Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect you might have an underlying health problem:
- Anemia: Anemic patients have a low red blood cell count which impairs the normal circulation of oxygen throughout the body, resulting in tiredness, weakness, and other symptoms including chest pain.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): CFS, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is characterized by extreme fatigue that lasts at least 4 months. Sufferers often report other symptoms such as joint pain, aching muscles, and gastrointestinal difficulties.
- Depression: A lack of energy and decrease in general motivation are among the most common symptoms of depression, along with difficulty concentrating and a pervasive feeling of emptiness or sadness.
- Diabetes: A person with diabetes will frequently feel tired because their body is unable to utilize glucose, one of the body’s primary sources of energy. Aside from tiredness, the symptoms include excessive thirst, blurred vision, and weight loss.
- Sleep apnea: This condition causes the airway to narrow during sleep, which interrupts a person’s breathing and oxygen supply. The classic sign of sleep apnea is disrupted sleep that causes tiredness the next day. Snoring is a common indicator of this condition.
- Thyroid disease: Low levels of thyroid hormone (“hypothyroidism”) result in fatigue, weakness, weight gain, a low body temperature and constipation. This is because the thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. An imbalance triggers a cascade of physical and psychological symptoms.
How to stop feeling tired and feel energetic
Here are 7 proven ways to tackle the cause of your tiredness and help you sleep better and wake up more energectic every day.
1. Unwind & de-stress
Everyone deals with stress in their lives but it’s how you react to it that matters. If you find that you’re getting stressed consistently, it’s time to make the effort to do something about it.
There are many ways you can do this but if stress is consistent, your de-stressing habits must be consistent too.
- Change your perspective. Sometimes stress is all about your mindset. Try to view a stressful situation in a different way by finding an alternative positive slant. If your commute to work is full of cancellations or roadworks, decide to see this as a perfect time to read a book or listen to uplifting music. It’s all about shifting your focus to the positive.
- Buy a plant. Researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relax response. One Washington State University study found that a group of stressed out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure. Being around nature in general has a calming and therapeutic effect on our brain. So even just taking a break to sit in a park or by a tree can decrease your stress levels.
- Go for a short walk. A walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins, helping to reduce stress hormones. If you’re at work, walk up and down the stairs a couple of times or walk around the block. Try to get a longer walk in every now and then to really get a boost. You can be mindful of what you see around you, or download an audiobook to help pass the time. Again, shifting your focus away from stressful thoughts.
- Laugh. Go on, you’ll feel better instantly. Laughter activates your body’s stress response, then quickly cools it down, leaving you feeling relaxed. Take time out to watch a funny video clip, dig out your favourite comedy or ring up that friend who always makes you laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine!
2. Eat healthier
The foods that we eat (and don’t eat) have a huge influence on our health. When it comes to our sleep patterns, food influences our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that our body follows each day. So it’s important to watch what we put into our body.
You can easily sleep better by making a few changes to your diet:
- Eat peanuts. If you have difficulty falling asleep, eat more peanuts or natural peanut butter. A rich source of niacin, peanuts help to increase the release of serotonin (which makes us sleepy).
- Eat cherries. Cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin (which controls our body clock). One study found that drinking tart cherry juice resulted in improved sleep quality and duration.
- Try dark chocolate. Dark chocolate helps to relax your body and mind. Make sure you stick to dark chocolate as milk chocolate contains tyrosine which converts into dopamine and acts as a stimulant.
- Avoid alcohol. Any kind of alcohol is bad for your sleep. One study found that mixing a single glass of vodka with caffeine-free soda at bedtime increased the amount of time women spent awake during the night by 15 minutes.
3. Avoid caffeine
Sure, caffeine can give you a bit of a boost in the short term, but you could drink over eight cups and still feel sluggish.
And the side effects of caffeine consumption? Headaches, irritability and dehydration. When you’re already feeling crappy and tired, the last thing you want is to feel worse! Here are some surprising ways caffeine is slowly harming your health.
Instead, try drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Your brain will feel alert and energised naturally rather than relying on a stimulant like coffee. Also consume energy-boosting foods, like almonds, oranges, salmon, spinach, or blueberries.
4. Get some sun
Just fifteen minutes in the sun increases your vitamin D levels, which, along with vitamin B is responsible for fighting fatigue. A common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is feeling tired, moody, achey and stressed. Get outside in the sunshine!
5. Work out
Too much time spent sedentary drains your fuel tank.
I know, I know—when you’re feeling tired, the last thing you want to do is be active and move about. But you’ll be amazed at how better exercises makes you feel.
According to a recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women who get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week report less fatigue and more energy that those who don’t.
On the flip side, you can have too much of a good thing. Excessive physical activity can leave you pushing your body, resulting in feelings of tiredness.
Try to find the balance between activity and rest.
If you’re wondering when is the best time to exercise, check out this article: Which Is Better: Morning Workout Or Evening Workout?
6. Have a power nap
There are numerous benefits of napping, including improved alertness, learning, memory and performance.
The benefits of a quick power-nap at work have proved to be so good that companies such as Google and The Huffington Post have installed designated sleeping zones in their offices!
However, author of Take a Nap! Change your Life says that napping for more than 20 minutes will make you feel even worse. Make sure you set your alarm!
Check out this article if you want to maximize the effect of a nap: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day
7. Switch off
Eight out of ten of us keep our mobile phones turned on overnight. According to Ofcom, around half the population use their phones as an alarm clock too.
Experts are concerned that using phones and other electronics before bed cause problems with our sleep. Research has shown that the bright light emitted from electronics and smartphones seriously mess with our sleep behaviors.
Their advice is to cut back on TV, computer and mobile phone time after 8 p.m. It’s better to read a book or just listen to some relaxing music before you go to sleep.
Summing it up
If you find stress is influencing your quality of life on a consistent basis, it is definitely time to rethink your habits. Be aware of how you react to stressors and create habits that change your negative perspectives and physically banishes stress in your body.
Exercising, switching off, and being more mindful of what you eat creates more energy and counteracts your stress mechanisms.
Decide to make changes today and give yourself the best support you can to improve your wellbeing and stop feeling tired all the time.
Featured photo credit: Hard at Work via flickr.com
|||^||Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Recommended Amount Of Sleep For A Healthy Adult|
|||^||Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep|
|||^||NBC News BETTER: How What You Eat Affects Your Sleep|
|||^||Medical News Today: 5 reasons you feel so tired|
|||^||Reader’s Digest: 8 Connections Between Diet and Sleep|
|||^||Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior: The effect of a single bout of exercise on energy and fatigue states|
|||^||Obesity Reviews: The relation between sleep duration and sedentary behaviours in European adults|
|||^||Huffington Post: 5 Ways Stress Wrecks Your Sleep|
|||^||Verywell Mind: The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep|
|||^||Prevention: 6 Reasons You’re Tired All The Time|
|||^||NHS Choices: 10 medical reasons for feeling tired|
|||^||Dr. Axe: 11 Reasons You’re Always Tired and How to Fix It|
|||^||Web MD: Exercise and Depression|
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