Why am I so tired?
Here are some ideas for how to fight fatigue without loading up on caffeine. A good night's sleep could be key.
Mon, Feb 28 2011 at 5:01 PM
Lots of people spend their days yawning at their desks and their evenings trying to catch up on the day’s affairs. No wonder we are so tired.
Fatigue comes in many forms and its causes are numerous. But almost everyone who suffers from fatigue has one thing in common: they don't want to feel tired all the time. Many people can make lifestyle adjustments to alleviate the tiredness. Others have medical issues that need to be addressed by a doctor or a similar medical professional.
When it comes to lifestyle changes, making sure you get a good night's sleep is one of the first areas where fatigue should be attacked. Sleeping at night can help a lot with energy during the day.
Get some sleep
Alas, for many people, a good night’s sleep — at least consistently — is elusive. According to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11 percent of adults in the U.S. reported lack of sufficient rest or sleep for all 30 of the preceding 30 days.
Between work and a personal life, it can be difficult to grab the seven to eight hours of quality, restorative sleep we need to function optimally.
And while the tendency today is to go, go, go, it is crucial to stop — to rest both body and mind. For that seven or eight hours in bed to count, cut back on caffeine (at least by noon), eliminate that last e-mail and Facebook check — and turn off the TV — within an hour of two of bedtime.
In addition, it helps to keep the bedroom cool and dark, and try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to keep your body clock in sync.
Other ways to promote a healthy night’s sleep include regular mind-quieting activities such as yoga or meditation, smelling calming essential oils like lavender, or drinking herbal teas like chamomile.
Easy on the caffeine
How can you fight the occasional bouts of fatigue without ingesting more caffeine? Here are a few ideas:
- Exercise: Regular, moderate exercise can offer bursts of energy.
- Proper diet: Eating a combination of protein and carbs at each meal, and eating every three hours, keeps your body fueled.
- “Power naps:” Scientific research has shown that napping for about 15 to 30 minutes, hitting the beginning of the typical sleep cycle, energizes the body and mind without lapsing into deeper sleep.
Of course, a lack of quality sleep is just one possible cause of fatigue. If you truly do get enough shut-eye, other reasons for fatigue could be:
- Anemia: Women, in particular those who have heavy periods, can be susceptible to anemia because their body is losing iron-rich blood.
- Medication side effects
- Too much caffeine: While most think of coffee, tea, cola and chocolate as full of caffeine, the chemical can be hidden in other foods as well, including non-cola soft drinks and ice cream, and in over-the-counter medications.
- Underlying medical conditions: Fatigue often is a symptom of several problems including diabetes, under- or overactive thyroid, cancer and heart disease.
Combating fatigue can be complex. If tiredness lasts several months or is interfering with your daily life, see your doctor for a physical to rule out a medical condition or sleep disorder.
Have other ideas on why we are so tired? Leave us a note in the comments below.
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