Do you regularly wake up feeling tired and groggy? Do you find yourself reaching for a third or even a fourth cup of coffee just to get you through the day? You’re not alone. Chronic fatigue is a symptom of our modern times, so it’s almost normal for sleep takes a backseat.
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However, being tired all the time can put a serious strain on our well being. Constant exhaustion can lead to a lack of focus, lower productivity, and in some cases may exacerbate mental health issues, like depression.
There are a number of reasons why you might feel tired all the time. The good news is, you don’t have to live with it. Here are five common reasons why you’re constantly tired and what to do about it.
Sleeping Too Much… Or Too Little
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Despite this, a recent study found that about 20 per cent of Canadians get just between six and seven hours of sleep every night. And six per cent consistently get less than six hours a night. The result? Some of us don’t even know what being truly well rested feels like.
On the other hand, sleeping too much (more than 9 hours a night) can be just as hazardous, and is associated with a higher rate of depression, increased inflammation, lower fertility rates and more.
If you fall into either of these categories, reconsider your sleeping habits and prioritize a good night’s rest above all else. Opt to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, whether or not you’re getting up for a workout and even if it’s on the weekend. Your body will eventually get used to the familiar rhythm, which means you’ll fall asleep and wake up naturally with greater ease.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
It’s not just about getting the right amount of sleep, but the quality of that sleep as well. To further complicate our sleeping habits, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights — including those from electronic devices — all interfere with our “circadian rhythm” or natural sleep/wake cycle.
Our brains are constantly on digital overload, with an incredibly large amount of our time dedicated to staring at a screen. Many of us are guilty of answering emails, catching up on TV shows or reading our tablets right before bed. If you’re consistently getting a restless sleep or you have trouble getting to bed each night, try unplugging at least 30 minutes before hitting the hay.
Our bodies need fuel for energy, and eating the wrong foods can make all the difference in how tired we feel day to day. Processed carbs and sugars give us a quick, artificial energy boost – and promptly make us crash, leading to that dreaded afternoon slump. If you’re fueling your body with a jelly doughnut and a gallon of coffee for breakfast (or even worse, skipping breakfast altogether), you’re asking for exhaustion to set in come lunchtime. Eating nutrient-dense foods is your best best in the fight against fatigue. Choose clean foods that are rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins.
Also see your doctor to rule our any nutritional deficiencies, especially iron or B12 deficiencies, which can lead to anemia and fatigue.
Problems at work, money issues, or a family crisis — there are plenty of worries we all face each day. Anxiety can lead to sleepless nights spent tossing and turning. To stop anxiety in it’s tracks before bed, try meditation or writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal an hour before going to bed. These exercises may help you ‘let it go’ until tomorrow.
Underlying Health Issues
Good sleep goes hand-and-hand with good health. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t find a reason for your mental fog or run-down state. Numerous illnesses and conditions can contribute to fatigue, including chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, certain medications and more. Always talk to your doctor to rule out these possibilities so you can have peace of mind to tackle the real problem at hand.
Taking the time to examine and identify patterns that may be harmful to your sleep cycle is essential to a happy, healthy life. Even small changes can make a huge impact when it comes to increasing your alertness and improving your disposition during waking hours. Prioritize sleep and don’t let fatigue run your life.