You’ve likely had the question posed to you, “Are you an early bird or a night owl?” If you struggle with fatigue and tiredness throughout the day, you could respond to this inquiry with “I’m not either. I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon.” Even though you try to get enough sleep and regularly reach the “magic” number of 8 hours a night, you may still struggle to stay awake at your desk or find yourself dozing off when your coworker starts to drone on about their family vacation. Instead of just accepting your identity as a permanently exhausted pigeon, it’s time to get to the bottom of your energy crisis and stop relying on caffeine to get you through the day.
Reasons you are tired
Your diet is imbalanced
Your diet plays a huge role in how your body functions, and if you don’t give it the vitamins and nutrients it needs to run properly, it will start to crash. Critical nutrients include iron, vitamin B12, omega–3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, to name just a few. Let’s face it, the french fries, sugary coffee, and handfull of Cheetos you ate today don’t precisely fulfill those nutrient requirements. Instead, fill your diet with real, healthful fruits and vegetables that support your immune system, promote healthy sleep, and help keep you energized.
You aren’t getting enough exercise
Though it may seem counterintuitive, regular, moderate exercise can help you feel more rested and give you a notable energy boost. You’ll not only sleep better at the end of the day, which will increase the benefit of your rest, but you will also build stronger muscles and increase the function of your respiratory system, which means that you can accomplish more without feeling winded and worn out.
You may be depressed
Depression is a serious mental illness that affects many people. You may not even be able to identify what you are feeling as depression until you begin to look into how tired you are. If you struggle to get the motivation to get out of bed in the morning and find yourself calling off of work regularly, it may be a good idea to evaluate your mood, emotions, and the other circumstances in your life. If you think that you may be depressed, consider talking to a therapist or visiting a doctor.
You are getting to much sleep
While many people think the key to busting that foggy, fatigued feeling is simply going to bed earlier and earlier, you may not be doing yourself any favors by increasing the amount of time you spend sleeping. Sleeping too much can leave you feeling groggy. Plus, if you snooze your alarm a few times during the last hour of your night, you are getting broken sleep that doesn’t count towards your nightly total.
You could have a sleep disorder
It isn’t just about the amount of sleep, but the quality of your sleep as well. If you wake up feeling like you never slept in the first place, you may have a sleep disorder or other condition such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), anemia, thyroid problems, narcolepsy, depression, restless leg syndrome, or undiagnosed heart disease. Try sticking to a regular sleep schedule, exercising every day, and eating well for a few weeks. If you follow these guidelines and don’t have any other major stressors in your life, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor who could help rule out any underlying causes of your fatigue.
You are drinking too much caffeine
Caffeine can be a brutal master, and once you’re hooked, it is often difficult to escape its potentially harmful grip. Regularly drinking caffeine to stay awake or help you be more alert in the morning is one of the best ways to ensure that you will always have to drink coffee to wake up. Once you’re used to the extra stimulus, your body will give you signals such as a headache that indicate it is going through withdrawal. Drinking caffeine in the evening or too much during the day can keep you awake at night or leave you tossing and turning in your sleep, which is often the cause of fatigue. Cut back on caffeine and instead make it an occasional treat. It is also a good idea to try to avoid drinking any after 2 or 3 pm.
How to find out how much sleep you need
Try adjusting your bedtime and alarm so that you are getting exactly 7.5 hours of sleep. If you wake up a few minutes before your alarm, that amount of time is perfect. If you find yourself struggling to wake up, you may need to move your bedtime back a little earlier. Eight hours isn’t always the right amount of sleep for each person, so it is essential to experiment a little bit and find what works best for you.