With daylight savings officially over, we’re entering the colder days. I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say that I’m struggling to keep my energy levels and stay awake.
Research has split tiredness into three aspects, and this is how most doctors analyse fatigue. They can stem from psychological, physical and lifestyle causes. While psychological causes are common (such as insomnia or stress), they’re more contextual and related to specific people. On the other hand, the physical and lifestyle causes are far more easy to detect.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the 5 main reasons that you’re feeling tired.
I was going to start this article off with the classic “you overslept…” but I thought that it was far too obvious and cliche. We all know that if you don’t get enough sleep, your body tends to crash throughout the day.
So I decided to go the less obvious route of oversleeping. Yes, oversleeping is bad for you.
Quite often, we think a big long sleep is good, but research by the US’s National Health Society has proved that sleep debt can never be repaid; you can never make up for lack of sleep by oversleeping another day.
Research from the Johns Hopkins Medicine institute has shown that too much sleep is just as bad as getting not enough sleep, as it increases general lethargy and brain fog, but can increase the risk of diabetes, coronary heart diseases, anxiety, obesity, depression and consistent headaches.
As an adult, you should be aiming for 6.5 – 8 hours of sleep to hit the optimal point.
A lack of key nutrients in your diet can lead you to feel exhausted and fatigued, despite the fact that you’ve clocked a full 7 hours of sleep.
Common deficiencies that are linked to feeling fatigued, and are also common in people are Iron, vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Vitamin C.
As a person who has been deficient in iron in the past, I know that this is very common and fatigue was the most common symptom which had a severe turnaround as soon as I implemented iron supplements into my daily routine.
As the above deficiencies are very common, if you’re feeling particularly drowsy, I would urge you to get your levels tested.
Closely linked to point (2) above is your overall diet.
Your diet affects your energy levels, your attention span, and ultimately, the way you feel. To maintain an energy level that’s commensurate with the energy you expend in a day, you need a balanced diet which is packed with nutrients and proteins.
If you undereat, your body doesn’t get enough nutrients and will break down fat and muscle to meet its energy demands, which can in turn, trigger fatigue. If you overeat foods that are more processed and high in sugar, your body will start to crave more food of this sort which impacts your sleep cycle, blood sugar levels and insulin levels. We’ve all fallen victim to a sugar high and subsequent crash.
Following a diet low in processed foods and added sugars like grains/legumes with vegetables and a protein source such as fish, eggs or meat can reduce fatigue. So trade in that caramel slice for a mandarin instead!
This is one of the biggest lifestyle causes of tiredness and fatigue. I know we always hear people say that you need to drink water, but we really underestimate the importance of staying well hydrated.
Our body is approximately 60% water, so we need adequate water level restoration to replace the water loss that takes place on a daily basis through sweat and urination.
When we get dehydrated, our entire bodies are affected. On a smaller scale, dehydration can cause dizziness, light-headedness, headaches, tiredness, dry mouths and skin, fatigue, lethargy, inability to concentrate, bad breath and have negative repercussions on our sleep cycles. Left unchecked, it can lead to kidney stones and failure of your kidney function.
The average person should be aiming to drink around 8 glasses of water a day. I’ve found that buying a cute water bottle and aiming to drink 3 full refills of my 750ml bottle (keeping in mind that I exercise daily!) has helped me keep my dehydration in check.
Who doesn’t start their morning with a coffee. It’s part of my daily routine to wake up, go to the gym, go to work and then make coffee.
While they do give us a boost of energy, studies have shown that a dependence on caffeine is detrimental to us in many ways. In some people this can manifest as shakes and tremors, but very commonly, it can lead to caffeine cravings and dependencies, and feelings of extreme tiredness without caffeine.
Many studies have shown that due to caffeine dependence, people tend to consume large amounts of caffeine, which causes an overuse of caffeine and negatively impacts our sleep cycle. As you may have experienced, caffeine causes energy crashes at unexpected times during the day and if you top up regularly, it can also keep you up at night by causing nighttime anxiety and worrying and disrupted sleep due to the increased frequency of waking up. This all leads to sleepiness and fatigue the following day.
A dependency on caffeine is directly linked to sleep disturbance, and I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my sleep at night now that I’ve restricted myself to only having one coffee per day at 8:30am.
If you’re heavy on energy drinks or coffees but find yourself feeling lethargic and in a slump, I’d highly recommend cutting out one or two of those caffeinated beverages and replacing it with a walk or some movement to release some endorphins and restore energy levels immediately.
Awareness is key – hopefully this list has made you aware of why you may be feeling fatigue and the means to combat it!