3 Reasons You’re Tired and How To Snap Out Of It
Written by: Jennifer Barrows
“Ugh. I am so tired!” Think about how many times you utter that phrase on a daily basis. Let’s face it, America is in a major energy crisis… and I don’t mean the price of gas!
Every day, you drag yourself out of bed, slog through the morning, barely keeping your eyes open by the afternoon and just plop in front of the TV when you get home at night. The real kicker is that when it is finally time to go to bed, you can’t sleep!
There are many reasons you are tired, but is it truly fatigue? Being tired and sleepy is different from real fatigue. Fatigue usually lasts longer and is characterized by an intense weariness that develops gradually and has an effect on your mental clarity and energy. Unfortunately, chronic fatigue is not relieved by sleeping either.
Sometimes, fatigue is a symptom of a medical condition, but there are often other lifestyle factors that are causing you to feel like you are moving through molasses. Good news! There are some tricks you can use to rev up your motor during the day and wind down at night and get some really solid zzz’s and begin to feel your best.
Say “no” to that cuppa joe!
The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and your arm automatically shoots out to hit the snooze button. While you desperately soak in your last nine minutes of sleep, you start thinking about what you will order at Starbucks. You begin to calculate the caffeine amounts in your favorite drinks. “Is it brewed coffee or espresso that has more?”, you wonder. How can you get as much caffeine as fast as possible? Maybe an IV caffeine drip would do the trick today. “Oooh, where can I get one?”, you think to yourself.
At 3 p.m., you are on your third cup and you feel like you just need a little more to get through your last meeting.
Finally, it is time for bed and you lie there with your heart racing, your mind spinning and you Just. Can’t. Sleep.
So, here’s the deal on caffeine: It is a drug. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system. Stimulant. That sounds like what you need, right? Wrong!
In small doses – like a cup or two (max!) of organic coffee each day – it can provide just the jolt you need to get going and can even raise your mood. But after a few hours, it is out of your system and your body begins to crash, leaving you tired and wired.
In large doses – more than three cups of coffee per day – it begins to have side effects and the energy crashes when it is out of your system become more profound. When you feel that crash, you assume that you need more caffeine to get going again, but you are just feeding the cycle. You may even become addicted to caffeine and experience headaches, anxiety or feel stressed and irritable without it.
Continued overuse of caffeine can lead to all kinds of problems, including issues with sleep and even more serious complications, like adrenal fatigue. Caffeine raises adrenaline in the body. In small amounts, adrenaline is beneficial; it can get you through giving a speech or help you run away from a saber toothed tiger. But constant production of adrenaline taxes the adrenals and leads to fatigue and a host of other health issues.
There are ways to stay on your game without the jittery side-effects of caffeine.
- Stay hydrated. When you wake up in the morning, have a cup of warm water with lemon. Make sure you’re aiming to drink at least ½ your bodyweight in ounces of pure water each day. If you exercise, make sure you are replacing the fluids you lose through sweating.
- Eat real food. Make sure you are getting all your vitamins and minerals and eating frequent, small meals each day that include protein, veggies and healthy fat. This will help you keep your blood sugar on an even keel, while helping you feel energetic all day, without keeping you up at night.
Get on the move!
Believe it or not, inactivity can lead to fatigue. Have you ever sat around all day resting, only to feel even more tired when it is time to get up and do something? Being still actually slows the body’s systems and slows the metabolism. A slower metabolism can lead to weight gain, which leads to feeling tired, which can lead to more inactivity and the cycle continues. Try making time for exercise (or movement) at least 5-6 days each week.
- Get enough exercise, but don’t overdo it. When you exercise moderately on a regular basis, it helps get your blood flowing, reduces stress, provides an energy boost and allows the body to get tired when it is supposed to. You will see that your sleep is of a better quality and you will feel more refreshed when you wake up. Overtraining, on the other hand, will exhaust your body and make it produce all kinds of stress hormones. Doing so is likely to keep you awake at night and could lead to injury and long-term fatigue.
- Don’t sit still for too long. If you work at a desk all day, try getting up and taking a walk around the office, or even going outside for for some fresh air hourly. Your body is designed to move. Being still and sitting all day can put you in a fog and keep you in a constant state of fatigue.
Make Sleep A Priority
Sleep deprivation is a huge cause of fatigue. People can develop a sleep deficit if they go long enough without sleep and this can affect every body system. There are so many reasons you don’t get enough sleep, including the simple fact that you don’t leave enough time to sleep. Work, family obligations, TV shows that are on too late and puttering away on the computer are all reasons you aren’t getting to bed at a good time.
Studies show that ambient blue light, the kind that comes from computer screens and televisions, stimulate the brain and suppress its natural production of melatonin, the hormone you need to regulate your sleep cycles. If you are having trouble sleeping, it is best to shut off all sources of ambient light about an hour before you hit the sack. So if you want to get to sleep around 10pm, get off of Facebook around 9pm and try a few things to help your mind relax for your best chance at a restful nights sleep.
- Practice stress relief. This can include meditation, yoga, massage, or listening to soft music. Try keeping a journal of your thoughts and worries. Writing them down removes them from your mind so they aren’t spinning around in your head all night. Keep the journal by the bed so that if you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about something, you can write it down and drift off again, with a clear mind.
- Don’t keep a TV, computer or smartphone in your bedroom. Your bedroom is for sleeping. When you have a TV, use the computer in your bed, or keep your phone on your night table, you trick your brain into thinking that your room is a place to be stimulated, rather than relaxed, which will make it harder to fall – and stay – asleep. Also, if you have a digital clock, make sure the display is red rather than blue. The blue light can keep you awake, while the red display won’t interfere with your internal clock.
- Go dark. Keep your room as dark as possible and if you can, keep it pitch black when you go to sleep. You can put up light blocking curtains to help keep out light from street lamps. This is a great solution if you are a night-shift worker and need to sleep during the day.
If you are still having trouble with fatigue even after making some of these lifestyle changes, it may be time to seek out a professional to help you determine the root cause.
Jennifer Barrows is an Empowered Single Mom, Writer and Certified Health Coach, practicing north of Boston. She received her health coaching certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in December of 2013. Her coaching practice focuses on helping guide women through life transitions, using food and lifestyle upgrades to improve their moods and outlook.
She has written for local newspapers and just published a book, Still Together: A Single Mom’s Guide To Healing After Divorce.
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