10 Reasons You’re Always So Tired
Spend a few minutes glancing around any office or subway car, and you’ll see yawn after yawn, maybe even a few folks nodding off. With an average per person coffee consumption of 2.1 cups every day, according to a Zagat survey, it’s safe to say most Americans feel pretty wiped out. Plopping down in a chair for the rest of the day certainly won’t do much to help to alleviate the problem and many workers may find themselves feeling irritable and a lot less productive.
The damage can extend beyond the workplace, too. In 2012, a team of French researchers conducted a study examining the factors most commonly associated with serious car accidents. The team found sleepiness behind the wheel to be nearly as dangerous as driving drunk. When you consider some people operate heavy machinery regularly while on the job, the results are rather sobering.
If you count yourself among the many perpetually tired adults, it’s time to start figuring out where things are going wrong. It could be as simple as not hitting the hay soon enough, but something less expected could also be at play. Check out this list of 10 culprits so you can stop stifling yawns and start feeling more awake.
1. Sleeping in
Once Friday hits, most people are ecstatic at the thought of sleeping long past their weekday waking hour. Though snoozing until noon might sound like the ultimate luxury, you could be doing a lot more harm than good. According to Men’s Health, sleeping in throws off your body’s internal clock since it alters the amount of time you’re exposed to daylight as well as your regular eating habits. If you can’t completely fend off the urge, keep it to an additional 90 minutes at the absolute max.
What about catching up on sleep? Sorry, but there’s really no truth to this concept. For starters, you’d have to sleep a ton of extra hours in two days to equate to what you lost during the week. Even if you feel slightly less tired, it’s still not that beneficial. A 2013 study found workers who slept in for two days following a week of sleep deprivation felt less fatigued but didn’t experience an increase in performance.
2. Improper amount of exercise
If you think you’re too tired to work out, think again. Plenty of research shows regularly making the time for a sweat session can help you feel a lot more alert during the day. This 2008 study from the University of Georgiais a good example. The team found those who started incorporating exercise into their day enjoyed reduced fatigue compared to those who remained sedentary.
Setting your alarm a bit earlier in the day is a good route for most adults, but a work schedule that already has you out of bed in the early hours still isn’t a reason to skip out. The old excuse that exercising later in the day will disrupt your sleep that night doesn’t have much support. According to CNN, as long as you give yourself a few hours between your workout and the time your head touches your pillow, you’ll be just fine.
On the flip side, folks who hit the gym a little bit too hard can also suffer from fatigue. Athletes who are constantly training for competitions can easily become victims of overtraining, a condition where the body has been worked to exhaustion. Once someone hits this point, they’re performance suffers and they tend to feel moody and extremely exhausted.
3. Too many screens
Most adults are plugged into some sort of electronic device all day, right up the point when they hop in bed. Exposing yourself to the light from your phone, computer, TV, or tablet so late in the day can have a huge impact on the amount and quality of sleep you get. A 2014 study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found participants who used light-emitting eReaders an hour before bed took longer to fall asleep, experienced reduced quality in sleep, and felt more fatigued the next morning. The researchers believe the light that comes from these devices disrupts circadian rhythm, our body’s natural clock that helps tell us when it’s time to sleep. Instead of surfing the web, try reading a book or magazine before bed.
4. Poor diet
Three cups of black coffee does not constitute breakfast, yet many don’t have much more than that. This habit of skipping the day’s first meal can slow you down pretty significantly. Amy Goodson, RD at Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, told Time eating breakfast refuels your body from the long break between meals and gets your metabolism going. Your best bet is to go for complex carbohydrates and protein, to keep you satisfied and maintain a stable supply of energy. Go for foods like eggs with whole wheat toast or oatmeal with Greek yogurt.
The article also noted the importance of getting good nutrition for the rest of the day. Sugary snacks and simple carbs will cause your blood sugar to spike. While this gives you an immediate hit of energy, you’ll soon feel even more exhausted than before your snack. Once again, protein and complex carbohydrates are your best friends to stay alert during the day.
Though the old advice of drinking eight glasses of water a day is sort of overkill, most people don’t sip enough of the clear stuff throughout the day. If you’re not guzzling at least a few glasses, dehydration could be the reason you feel so sluggish. Nutritional therapist Hayley Pedrick told The Telegraph, “As little as a 5 to 8% loss of water can lead to fatigue.” When you don’t have an adequate amount of water in your system, your blood volume drops. This means it takes longer for oxygen and other nutrients to circulate through your body, leaving you feeling wiped out.
6. Inadequate amount of sleep
Not getting enough sleep is probably the most obvious, but no less important, reason many of us feel so exhausted all the time. Though everyone is a little bit different, experts usually recommend aiming for seven to nine hours of shut eye every night, yet many people don’t come close. Missing out on those precious hours every night can make you feel foggy, but that’s the least of your worries. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and an early death.
Many look to coffee and other caffeinated beverages to fight fatigue, but that strategy doesn’t do much good. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan, told Entrepreneur that coffee can’t replace sleep because, “your body doesn’t heal; your memory doesn’t get better.” Additionally, too much of the brewed beverage later in the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep, making the problem even worse. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a little bit of a jolt from some java, just don’t try to use it an alternative to a full night’s rest.
7. Iron deficiency
When you don’t have an adequate supply of iron in your system, you can’t produce enough hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen throughout your body. This condition, called anemia, can make you feel winded and generally exhausted. It’s even worse when you try to work out.
Low iron levels plague women much more commonly than men thanks to their menstrual cycles, but that doesn’t mean guys are immune. According to Livestrong, men often run into trouble when their diet doesn’t offer enough of the nutrient through foods like meat, poultry, and eggs. This means vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible.
8. Low testosterone
As men get older, their bodies naturally start to produce less testosterone. Most of us think of this hormone as it relates to muscle growth and sex drive, but it plays a role in your overall energy level as well. According to Healthline, men with low testosterone often feel fatigued despite getting plenty of sleep. And if you think this is only a problem for older men, think again. According to Everyday Health, there are a number of reasons young men can find their testosterone levels lacking, and they’re all treatable. If you feel like you might be suffering from an insufficient supply of this hormone, you’ll need to do some blood tests at your doctor’s office.
9. Sleep disorders
Even folks who devote enough time to sleeping each night can find themselves feeling bleary-eyed in the morning either because they can’t fall asleep or because it’s not restful sleep. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and even more have occasional troubles getting enough shut eye.
Disorders include everything from snoring to narcolepsy, but sleep apnea and insomnia are two of the most common. According to the Minnesota Sleep Institute, sleep apnea occurs when the muscles around your airway relax too much and block off the airway. This cuts off the supply of oxygen to your brain and forces you to wake up in order to start breathing again. Over the course of an entire night, you’ll miss out on a lot of quality sleep. As for insomnia, it’s a lot less clear cut. Any number of reasons can lead to the inability to fall and stay asleep, but it always leaves you feeling wiped out. If you’re staring at ceiling every night, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
10. Too much alcohol
Most guys who enjoy a few beers or glasses of wine know about the snooze-inducing effect of alcohol. Though booze makes you feel sleepy, it also prevents you from getting the true rest your body needs. A 2013 review published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found alcohol consumption helped individuals reach a deep sleep early on, but led to disruptions in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the most restful phase of sleep, later in the night. It’s fine if you enjoy a drink or two, but don’t use the booze as a strategy for getting a better night’s rest.