Tiredness, especially chronic, can negatively affect your day-to-day experience. You may have difficulties concentrating, you complete tasks slower, and worse yet, your weariness can affect your ability to drive, increasing your risk of accidents.
There are numerous reasons to feel tired, and poor sleep is the most obvious one. But did you know there are many medical conditions and lifestyle habits that can be contributing to your tiredness? It’s important you uncover the cause of your fatigue and address it effectively to get back to your old active life.
Physical and psychological causes of tiredness
Obesity, or even extra weight, can very well contribute to your tiredness. This is because those pounds make it difficult to move. This can lead to feeling fatigued even after going for a short walk or completing daily tasks. On the other hand, if you are underweight, lack of muscle strength can make completing tasks physically exhausting, too, so you may feel you need a break to recuperate afterwards.
Pregnancy can be a tiring experience, in particular during the first 12 weeks, but that is temporary.
Mental fatigue as well can have you feeling drained. Living with anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems can make you feel tired, especially because many of these conditions can contribute to sleep problems.
Hearing bad news, dealing with stress, or enduring emotional shock can all contribute to tiredness – sometimes, you may find that you need to just sleep for many hours just to get back to feeling yourself again. Dealing with your mood and mental health can thus improve energy levels.
Lifestyle causes of tiredness
You stay in bed with your phone: Your bed should be used for sleep and sex (sorry to be frank!). If you’re bringing technology in your bed, you’re setting yourself up for low energy. Even if you wake up and start checking your e-mails or messages, the fact that you’re in bed can promote tiredness and you may find yourself dozing off once more. Instead of checking e-mails as soon as you open your eyes, hold off until after breakfast.
You’re dehydrated: If you want long-lasting energy, start your day with water – not coffee. Research has shown even the lightest drop in your hydration levels is enough to promote foggy thinking and fatigue. While you were sleeping, your body has gone through eight hours without hydration, so giving into that thirst is a wise choice to rehydrate and stay awake.
You shower at night: Even though a warm shower may seem relaxing, it actually can promote wakefulness. Showering prior to bed can keep you awake rather than put you to sleep. Our body temperature decreases as we sleep, but taking a warm shower raises our temperature, which means cooling down will take longer. Keep your showers for the AM hours for an energy boost.
You exercise at night: Switching your nighttime workout to a morning one can give you a full-day supply of energy. Working out at night can promote energy, which hinders your sleep, but working out in the morning can harness that energy to drag you out throughout the day.
You spend too much time indoors: Blue light helps keep you awake – this is what is emitted from TVs, smart phones, other technology devices, and the sun. But if you’re cooped up all day indoors, you receive artificial blue light that does not provide any vitamin D like the sun would. Vitamin D helps promote energy and boost mood – and, frankly, your smart phone can’t quite do that (yet?). Rather than staying locked up inside, get some natural sunlight for a quick energy boost.
Your morning radio is a bore: If your morning alarm is set to talk radio, that may not be very motivating to get you out of bed. Instead, wake up to a station playing heart-pumping music, which can instantly work to improve your mood and get your energy on the rise. Research has found that listening to music between 120 and 145 beats per minute can actually help us move faster and give us an energy boost. So switch up your morning tunes from boring to get-going!
Medical causes of tiredness
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): This is a form of debilitating fatigue characterized by aches, pains, and foggy thinking. Many patients end up being house-ridden. CFS is not well studied. Some experts believe it has something to do with out-of-control inflammation triggered by even the lightest activity.
Anemia: Anemia is a condition of low red blood cell count. Along with fatigue, symptoms include paleness, brittle nails, a racing heart, dizziness, and headaches.
Diabetes: Aside from excessive thirst and urination, extreme fatigue is another early sign of diabetes as your body struggles to manage glucose.
Clinical depression: Fatigue linked to low mood could be an early sign of depression. Although how or why depression causes fatigue is unclear, it is a well-known association. If you also experience loss of appetite, sadness, and difficulty concentrating, you may be experiencing clinical depression.
Sleep apnea: In sleep apnea, a person stops breathing throughout the night. Catching the breath actually wakes them up, so they never fully get a good night’s rest. If you wake up with jaw pain or a headache, have high blood pressure, and are overweight, especially around the mid-section, you could be dealing with sleep apnea. Another sign is snoring, so if your partner keeps nudging you at night or complains about your snoring, have yourself checked out. The good news is, wearing a CPAP device – a wearable nighttime mask that ensures a continuous air flow – can help relieve sleep apnea and its many symptoms, including fatigue.
Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an intolerance to gluten, with symptoms including tiredness along with diarrhea, stomach pains, and unintentional weight loss.
Glandular fever: This is a common viral infection that contributes to tiredness along with fever, sore throat, and swollen glands.
Restless leg syndrome: This is a condition in which the legs may feel as if they need to be kept in motion on order to address crawling, itching, or tingling sensations.
Anxiety: Constantly worrying, stressing, and being irritable can contribute to feeling tired.
Thyroid disease: Your thyroid regulates your hormones. In case of hypothyroidism, less hormones are produced, leaving you feeling tired.
Rheumatoid arthritis: Aside from joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis can also zap your energy levels.
Diet to boost energy
When it comes to eating for energy, there are some tips to keep in mind:
- Eat at regular intervals
- Never skip breakfast
- Consume slow-burning starches so that energy levels can be sustained
- Avoid sugary foods and beverages
- Eat iron-rich foods
- Avoid alcoholic beverages
- Eat energy-boosting foods
Certain foods can zap energy while others can promote it. Below is what you should incorporate into your diet if you want all-day energy.
Water: Water is vital for overall health – energy included. A large percentage of our bodies is made up of water and even the slightest drop in hydration is enough to bring on the brain fog and tiredness. One study revealed that 92 percent of athletes reported feeling fatigued after limiting their fluid intake over the course of 15 hours. Memory and concentration were also hindered by this drop in hydration.
Even if you’re not an athlete it’s important to stay hydrated. The common rule is to drink eight glasses a day. Of course, this is a good starting point, but hydration is dependant on your size, weight, and even physical activity. It’s a good practice to drink throughout the day. And if no water is in sight, opt for water-rich foods such as celery or watermelon to give your energy levels a boost.
Seaweed: Seaweed is a great food source for energy. It contains iodine, which has been shown to boost thyroid function. The thyroid is responsible for weight regulation, energy, and mood.
Researchers from the University of Texas examined iodine levels in table salt and revealed that 47 different brands of salt didn’t contain the FDA’s recommended iodine concentration. Recommended iodine requirements are 150 mcg a day. If you’re not keen on seaweed, iodine is also found in seafood and yogurt.
Peanut butter and bananas: Bananas contain potassium, which is great for energy as it gets used up by the body to help convert sugar into energy. Peanut butter also ups your energy thanks to magnesium. Both potassium and magnesium are essential nutrients and great for energy.
Bran: For the energy boost that will last all day, it’s wise to start with fiber for breakfast. A study from Cardiff University showed those who consumed high-fiber breakfasts reduced their fatigue throughout the day by 10 percent. Researchers theorize fiber slows down absorption in the stomach and maintains steady sugar levels in the blood. When sugar spikes we feel energized, but when it crashes our energy levels take a hit. Therefore, maintaining sugar levels is a good way to promote all-day energy.
Another bonus? You’ll eat less, which can lead to weight loss if you consume fiber.
Nuts: Nuts are great energy boosters because they contain protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Added bonus: You can carry them with you to promote your energy throughout the day whenever you need it.
Chia seeds: A 2011 study found that chia seeds were just as effective as Gatorade in fueling distance runners. Packed with antioxidants that can improve endurance and athletic performance, chia seeds also have anti-inflammatory properties for everyone’s benefit.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a great breakfast option because it’s packed with fiber that helps regulate blood sugar. When blood sugar levels spike and then drop, we are left feeling tired, but oatmeal prevents these spikes and crashes and keeps the blood sugar stable throughout the day.
Milk: A protein found in dairy products has been shown to promote better sleep, so if you’re fatigued and have trouble sleeping, a glass of milk prior to bed can help. If you can’t tolerate milk, this same protein is found in almonds, sunflower seeds, or soy milk.
Watermelon: One of the common causes of fatigue is dehydration. Eating watermelon will keep you hydrated – and, hence, energized! Watermelon also contains essential amino acids that have been found to promote energy, too.
By eating an energy-boosting diet and recognizing and treating the underlying cause of your low energy you can stop being tired and get back to feeling energized.