Do you often ask yourself, “Why am I so tired all the time?” If you find yourself regularly fatigued, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 15.3% of women and 10.1% of men regularly feel very tired or exhausted in the United States. Tiredness can cause an array of problems. For example, around 1 in 25 adult drivers report falling asleep at the wheel each month.
Everyone feels tired at some point in their lives. Often you can put your finger on the reason you’re not feeling your best, but what about those times when you can’t pinpoint the cause of your tiredness? Here are some possible explanations for why you could be feeling so drained. We’ve included steps you can take to feel re-energized.
1. Lack of Sleep
A lack of sleep may seem an obvious reason for feeling tired, yet 1 in 3 U.S. adults are consistently not getting enough of it. If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, you need seven or more hours of sleep every day to promote optimal health. Getting under the recommended hours of sleep each night is not only associated with fatigue, impaired performance, and a greater risk of accidents, but it also has adverse health outcomes. Tiredness increases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease.
If you struggle to fit in seven hours of sleep, here are some tips to help you achieve a full dose of much-needed slumber:
- Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends. Your optimal sleep routine is to be asleep before 10:30pm, as this is when the most restful sleep cycles begin.
- Avoid naps. We need a certain amount of sleep within a 24-hour period and no more than that. Napping reduces the amount of sleep we require the following night, which might lead to difficulty getting to sleep and/or fragmented sleep.
- Limit time awake in bed to 5–10 minutes. Lying awake in bed gives your brain more time to worry and stress about things happening in your life. Even watching television in bed can disrupt your restful sleep cycles.
- Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature. Any light that enters your room could disturb your sleep. Ensure your room is dark and light emitted from digital devices is out of sight. Cooler room temperatures are considered better for promoting sleep than warmer temperatures.
- Limit caffeinated drinks. Try not to consume caffeinated beverages after noon. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last for many hours after intake and cause issues with initiating sleep.
2. Poor Diet
The easiest way to banish fatigue is to make adjustments to your diet. Eating a healthful and sugar-stabilizing diet can make a world of difference in how you feel. Avoiding blood sugar spikes and valleys during your day is one key way to keep energy levels high. You can switch up your eating style today by implementing some of these small changes:
- Start your day with protein. One of the best ways to start an energy-filled day off right is to include protein in your breakfast. This helps stabilize your blood sugar. The all-too-common banana, pop-tart, piece of toast, or even the “no breakfast” that many begin the day with ensures a mid-morning slump that will leave you feeling tired and cognitively foggy. Start the morning with eggs, a protein shake, bacon, or even leftovers from the last night’s dinner.
- Common sense eating. Common sense says eating more fruits and vegetables can keep your nutrition goals on target. Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Be sure to focus on eating whole fruits and a wide selection of vegetables. Ideally, root vegetables that are high in fermentable starches should be consumed. These vegetables not only help to keep your blood sugar stable, they feed the preferred gut microbiome that produces B-vitamins that are essential for unrelenting energy. This group of vegetables include sweet potatoes, rutabaga, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, etc.
- Consume snacks and water. Eating at regular intervals can sustain your energy levels all day long. Snacks such as nuts, vegetables with protein spreads (peanut butter and humus), or high-fat snacks such as avocados can ward off the mid-morning and midday drops in energy. Likewise, drinking water can help to prevent dehydration, which results in fatigue, unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, and constipation.
3. Sedentary Lifestyle
When tiredness sets in, sitting on the couch and relaxing could seem to be the only answer. But getting up and moving may be the best thing you can do to re-energize and eradicate fatigue. Exercising can help to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Research by the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens discovered that, compared with sitting quietly, one single bout of moderate-intensity exercise lasting for at least 20 minutes helped to boost energy. An earlier study by UGA also found that when sedentary individuals completed an exercise program regularly, their fatigue improved compared with those who did not.
If you have not exercised for a while, start slowly.
- Begin with a brisk 10-minute walk. Start by being consistent each day and then build up to walking fast for 30 minutes 5 days per week. Brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, playing tennis, and even climbing a few flights of stairs at work can all count toward your time spent doing moderate-intensity exercise.
- Try a HIIT workout. When time is an issue, try a High Intensity Interval Training workout. These workouts are short, high-intensity timed intervals. This type of workout will keep the heart beating fast while alternating the muscle groups that are being targeted. Although this workout is temporarily fatiguing, the body will respond by producing more energy that you will be thankful for later. An example of an eight-minute workout follows:
- Briskly walk or walk in place for 1 minute.
- Jumping jacks for 30 seconds.
- Rapid push-ups for 30 seconds.
- Rapid squats for 30 seconds.
- Rapid lunges for 30 seconds.
- Briskly walk or walk in place for 1 minute.
4. Excessive Stress
Many situations can cause stress. Work, financial problems, relationship issues, major life events, upheavals such as moving, unemployment, and bereavement — the list of potential stressors is never-ending. Excessive stress can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion and even illness.
If the pressures you face are making you feel overtired or are giving you headaches, migraines, or tense muscles, don’t ignore these signals. Take some time out until you feel more calm, or try some of these tips.
- Take time for you. Make sure you are taking time out of your day for yourself to re-energize. Some quiet time to read, pray, or gently exercise can be a great way to help process stress.
- Try yoga, dance, or singing. It might seem strange, but these activities all have one thing in common. They use both sides of the brain. When the emotional side of the brain connects with the logical side of the brain, problem solving is at its highest. The connection between the two sides is bolstered by activities that use them both at the same time. Yoga, dancing, and singing are just a few of the activities that work best.
5. Lack of Helpful Supplements
There are a few supplements that can help bolster energy. Most work synergistically with the other supplements, and all will work the above strategies.
- CBD oil – CBD oil helps in many different ways but may be best known for helping those with sleep and stress problems. CBD helps the brain to reduce anxiety and depression and to induce long periods of relaxation. If you are feeling fatigued or burned out, CBD may be a great addition to your daily supplement regimen.
- GABA – GABA is an amino acid that helps to calm the brain for several hours. It can be taken at night or during the day. You can combine CBD with GABA.
- Multivitamin – A good multivitamin is hard to find. In fact, most are worthless. But a good multivitamin with a full-spectrum B-vitamin complex can be fantastic for those needing more energy. I highly recommend nearly everyone take a high-quality multivitamin daily and get more vitamins from their food intake.
- AM Blend – This proprietary blend of amino acids is specifically formulated to give energy to the brutally fatigued and exhausted. It is convenient to take, as it is a powder that is placed in water and drank throughout the day.
Finding more energy is not like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is achievable and worth working hard for!
Daryl C. Rich, D.C., C.S.C.S.