Tired of Being Tired?
“I can’t get going in the morning”
“I’m so tired all the time”
“I could’ve fallen asleep at my desk this afternoon”
“I’ve got no energy”
“I was in bed before 9 o’clock again last night”
“Thank God it’s the weekend”
Sound Familiar? How many times in a day do you make or hear the above statements? Fatigue & low energy impact us on many levels & it is becoming a more regular complaint I hear & a common theme amongst people I see in my clinic. Commonly it affects our mood, memory, concentration, focus, performance, creativity, stamina, ability to cope in stressful situations, immunity & appetite. As you can see it has a wide-reaching impact, so what are some of the many, non-medical, reasons behind modern fatigue –
· Modern Diet
· Quality of Sleep
· Toxic Load
· Food Sensitivities
Let’s focus on three possible causes that could be contributing to your tiredness & low energy levels -
1. Diet – yes, it always starts here for me & from just looking at my clients food diaries I can get a good indication of the symptoms they will present with. Think about your diet on a typical day & ask yourself the following questions. Is your diet appropriate for you? Are you consuming enough food? Are you consuming enough carbs, protein & fat across the course of the day? What does your breakfast consist of? Is your breakfast setting you up properly for the day? Do you have enough fibre & fluids in your diet to aid with elimination of toxins & hormones? Are you relying on stimulants, additives, refined sugars & carbs to keep you going? Do you have food sensitivities? Are you eating regularly enough? Are you skipping meals or eating on the go/grabbing food at your desk? Are you consuming enough fluids to keep you adequately hydrated?
2. Quality of Sleep – an area that is consistently under-rated when considering overall wellbeing. It is the time we rest & digest, repair & regenerate, make memories & release hormones that regulate appetite & growth. Key to ‘a good nights sleep’ is routine. If you’re struggling to sleep, to stay asleep or to wake up feeling refreshed, assess the following. What is your caffeine intake over the course of the day & particularly after 2pm? Have you had adequate daylight to ensure your hormones follow their natural rhythm? Are you stimulated by evening use of electronic devices which emit blue light & have been shown to cause sleep disturbance. Have you eaten a simple carb meal or one laden with additives that will cause your blood sugar to spike then crash during the night? What is your evening routine, is it conducive to winding down for the day? Is your evening exercise regime leaving you too wired to sleep? Is your bedroom a restful environment?
3. Movement – imperative to ensure circulation of oxygen, hormones, nutrients around the body & elimination of waste products from the body. Most office workers are required to be sat at their desk for around seven hours each day, factor in a sitting commute, then sitting in front of the TV in the evening & you are most probably leading a largely sedentary lifestyle. If this description matches your typical days assess the following. Do you struggle to warm up, particularly cold hands, feet, nose? How are your bowel movements, sluggish, strained? Is your skin lacklustre & dry? On the flip-side to the above scenario we have the ‘gym-bunnies’. Training in the morning before breakfast & work, maybe squeezing in a class at lunchtime or on the way home from a day at work. In this case, ask the following. Is my exercise routine appropriate for my lifestyle? Are you overtraining? How many colds/flu/chest infections/cold sores do you suffer from each year & how long does it take you to recover? What is your recovery time from exercise? Are you training with injuries?
If you’re one of the millions dragging yourself through the day I can take a guess you answered yes to many of the above questions, but what can you do about it? Very simply you can start by implementing some of the following actions to get your vitality back –
Ensure your breakfast contains some good fats, protein, fibre & complex carbs to stabilise your blood sugar, help you feel fuller longer & give you some good energy to start the day. An example would be porridge oats with nut milk, a handful of blueberries or grated apple, sprinkle cinnamon, flaxseed & some chopped nuts on top for a quick to make but really fulfilling breakfast. Eat regularly throughout the day, a handful of nuts, maybe some hummus with carrots or oat cakes as a snack just don’t allow yourself to get to the point of ‘hanger’. Skipping meals ends in the vicious cycle of crashing blood sugar, having to reach for a stimulant (coffee, cake or chocolate), spiking blood sugar which then crashes again….
Ensure you’re adequately hydrated. If you forget to drink, as many people do, set an alarm on your phone for 11am, 1pm, 3pm until you get into the habit of drinking water or herbal teas more regularly. If you’re office based you can use getting up for a drink to get some movement too, so find a quiet or private space & swing your arms, maybe star jump or do some squats, anything to get the oxygen moving around your body. Use your lunch break to get outside into the natural daylight & go for a walk, even if its just 15 minutes round the block.
Build a sleep routine into your evenings & try to keep the same bed time & wake time every day. Dim the lights, switch off electronic devices earlier in the evening, take a warm bath, wind down in bed with a good book, & ensure your bedroom is a restful place. Get into the habit of winding down & preparing yourself for sleep in the evenings.
As seen time & again, by addressing the basics & making small changes can have a big impact & the above are all habits you can make without any professional guidance. However, there are of course more considerably complex reasons for tiredness, for example thyroid, adrenal, digestive & mitochondrial dysfunction & in these cases you should always seek professional advice to further investigate the underlying cause.