Do you struggle to get out of bed, feel constantly drained and rely on pick-me-ups such as protein bars, coffee and sugary treats to get you through the day?
If so, you’re far from alone. Research by market analysts Mintel reveal that one in three of us admit we’re permanently worn out because of the pace of modern life. Another survey by vitamin company Healthspan show a whopping 97% of us claim we feel tired most of the time, and doctor’s records reveal that 10% of people visiting their GP are there solely to investigate unexplained tiredness.
Here, experts point to some of the causes – and how to deal with them.
It might be the last thing you feel like, but avoiding exercise because you’re tired actually makes you feel worse. In a University of Georgia study, sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising lightly three days a week for just 20 minutes reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after six weeks.
This is because regular exercise makes your heart and lungs work more efficiently, delivering oxygen and vital nutrients around the body.
Recent research shows many of us survive on so-called ‘junk sleep’ — the kind when we wake up frequently throughout the night. It doesn’t replenish our energy levels as well as long stretches of continuous sleep do.
So, its important to go to bed on time. If sleep evades you, have a relaxing bath and a cup of warm milk. If needed, you may use a natural sleep aid like “SleepMate Melatonin Plus Natural Sleep Aid”
Although we think of caffeine as a pick-me-up, it actually makes us feel more tired once the initial surge wears off. Dr Chidi Ngwaba, director of The Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, explains: “This is because our brain chemistry doesn’t like being interfered with by stimulants, so it releases chemicals to dampen down the alert response.”
Coffee is also a serious sleep disrupter, with one study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealing that drinking it even six hours prior to bedtime meant poorer quality sleep.
So, avoid caffeine as much as you can. It will increase energy levels in the long run. But cut down gradually to avoid headaches and irritability.
Figures show that around a third of women are low in iron often due to heavy periods. A blood test will pick up any iron problems and you’ll be prescribed tablets to boost levels.
Include plenty of iron-rich foods in your diet, such as lean meats, dark green vegetables, pulses and dried fruits, and pair them with foods like citrus fruit high in vitamin C.” Or try Spatone Apple which mixes natural liquid iron with vitamin C.
We all have increasingly busy lives, so it’s essential to provide the body with enough calories and vitamins to get through the day. B vitamins are particularly vital as they’re required by the body to convert the food you eat into energy.
Include rich source of B vitamins like brown rice, barley and oats, as well as lean proteins such as oily fish and turkey in your diet. Or try Bronson Labs High Potency B Complex
Losing as little as 2% of your body’s normal water content can take its toll on your energy levels. Working in an air-conditioned office, going for a long walk or simply forgetting to drink regularly can quickly lead to depleted fluid levels. This causes blood pressure to drop and means not enough blood gets to the brain or muscles. This can cause headaches, fatigue and loss of concentration.
Try to drink water every two hours. If you need encouragement, add mint, basil, lemon or cucumber to liven its flavor.
Sugary energy drinks and snack foods such as biscuits, chocolate and crisps cause sharp spikes then dips in blood sugar that can leave you flagging, irritable and desperate for a mid-afternoon nap.
Swap to low-sugar foods – and this includes avoiding white carbs such as bread and pasta which quickly convert to sugar in the body.
Surviving on fruit and salad might feel worthy, but avoiding protein in the form of meat, dairy and nuts will leave you exhausted, as it’s a vital energy giver. It also takes more time for protein to be broken down in the body, so the energy is released more slowly and it fills you up for longer.
Snack on protein to keep energy levels stable. Eating a minimum of a palm-sized amount of protein with meals, and eating seeds and nuts or nut butters can prevent tiredness. Good protein sources are meat, fish, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, nuts and seeds.
While a little stress helps to keep us on our toes, long-term stress – for example from work or relationship problems – can exhaust the body, as well as being emotionally draining. So, by learning how to diffuse stressful situations, we can reduce their impact.
Try taking the herbs rhodiola and ashwagandha, which can help balance levels of the stress hormone cortisol. One such supplement that has both along with neurotransmitter precursors such as 5-HTP and GABA is Weyland: Relax – Stress Support Supplement
Having an underactive thyroid is a common cause of unexplained fatigue, especially in middle-aged men and women. Other symptoms of a thyroid condition include weight gain, and feeling cold.
See your doctor and take a blood test. If a sluggish thyroid is diagnosed, a simple once-a-day hypothyroid tablet can correct the problem and most people get their normal energy levels back soon after starting treatment.
In today’s world, many of us literally can’t switch off. We’re glued to our computers during the day, our phones on the way to and from work, and our laptops in the evening. Then there’s TV. All of these are stimulants and they can disturb your quality of sleep. Exposure to electromagnetic fields too close to bedtime stops the sleep hormone melatonin from being secreted as you fall asleep, which means you never reach the deep, restorative type of sleep we all need.
Don’t waste time on things like Facebook when you could be relaxing or having a bath – both of which would help you wind down and sleep better. Switch off your laptops, TVs and mobile phones an hour — preferably two — before bed.