Feeling sluggish after a rough night of sleep is perfectly normal. However, being tired all the time can cause a few problems. While certain daily habits can make you conk out, some have nothing to do with sleep.
Here are a few reasons behind your unexplained fatigue and simple tweaks to get your energy back.
1. YOU EXERCISE TOO MUCH (OR TOO LITTLE)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a time efficient way to stay fit, and burns tons of calories. But smashing stair runs day after day without adequate recovery is a fast track to feeling fatigued. In order to become stronger and faster your body needs time to adapt, a term called progressive overload.
If you continually push the limits without sufficient recovery (about 48 hours between sessions) you run the risk of overtraining. Some warning signs include a total lack of energy, trouble sleeping, elevated resting heart rate, and changes in mood.
But this is no excuse to skip your workout all together. When you’re worn out opt for an easy walk, which can actually reduce fatigue, improve blood circulation (which helps eliminate toxins) and boost energy.
2. YOU’RE DEHYDRATED
If you’re a coffee connoisseur, or desk jockey struggling with the 3pm energy slump, then you might need more water. Dehydration makes you majorly fatigued, and can also cause headaches and food cravings. A fluid loss of as little as 2% will decrease exercise performance, concentration, and energy levels. Stop feeling sluggish by sipping water throughout the day, loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables (strawberries and cucumber are over 90% water), and opting for herbal tea over caffeinated drinks.
3. YOU SKIP BREAKFAST
Rushing out the door on an empty stomach is another reason you’re feeling wiped out. The first meal of the day is essential to break the overnight fast. Skip it and you’ll be running on empty. High fibre cereals like oats or bran biscuits, provide a steady stream of glucose for energy and are a good source of B vitamins, which convert food into fuel your body can use. Combining these wholegrains with protein from milk or yoghurt, and a handful of seeds for healthy fats help stabilise blood sugars, preventing the mid-morning munchies on sugary biscuits.
4. YOU USE TECHNOLOGY TOO CLOSE TO BEDTIME
Your eyes are sensitive little organs and get easily confused by technology. The blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and laptops is perceived like a bright blue sky. It’s like telling your brain ‘what a beautiful day!’ before trying to go to bed causing your body to secrete less melatonin. This hormone is responsible for helping you fall and stay asleep, and without sufficient amounts can cause you to toss and turn throughout the night and wake up feeling exhausted. Make sleep restorative by switching off technology an hour before bedtime (TV included) and winding down with a warm shower, and gentle stretching.
5. YOU’VE DITCHED CARBS COMPLETELY
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy. They are the only fuel your brain can use and help power your workouts, especially when it comes to cardio. Dramatically reducing carbohydrates causes extreme lethargy and ‘brain fog’, making it difficult to concentrate. This may cause you to rely on caffeine for energy, which affects your sleep patterns and perpetuates the fatigue cycle.
To reverse this tiredness think ‘slow carb’ instead of low carb. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, wholegrain pasta or bread, and fruit release their energy gradually and contain fibre to keep you full. Include a small portion at each main meal for sustained stamina throughout the day.
6. YOU’RE LOW IN IRON
When was the last time you got a blood test? Just like a yearly car service, a thorough check up by your doctor is important to make sure all your systems are working at their best. A blood test can check all sorts of things like blood sugars, thyroid function and iron levels. Being low in iron in particular has a dramatic effect on your energy. Iron helps transport oxygen around the body, and a deficiency can leave you feeling tired and out of breathe.
Women with heavy periods, vegans, and vegetarians, as well as endurance athletes are at higher risk of running low. If you think this sounds like you, head to the doctor for a blood test and be vigilant about boosting your intake of iron. Good sources include red meat, eggs, or plant sources like kidney beans, and dark leafy greens paired with vitamin C rich foods to increase their absorption.