Why am I so tired? – Part 1

Here are a few of the most common reasons you may feel tired all the time:

Nutrient deficiency

A deficiency in certain vitamins or minerals could be behind your tiredness. An iron deficiency, for instance, can leave you feeling sluggish and weak, because less oxygen is traveling to your muscles and cells. Low levels of vitamin D or B12 can also make you feel tired and weak.

What to do: See your health-care provider for a thorough checkup, explaining that you’re looking for the cause of your chronic tiredness.

Eating habits

What you eat can drain—or boost—your energy levels. If you’re a junk food junkie, you’re probably experiencing a cycle of blood sugar spikes and sugar drops throughout the course of the day, leading to a sense of fatigue. The healthier your food is, the healthier your energy level will be. Start the day with a healthy breakfast and skip the sugary, refined foods throughout the day.

What to do: Plan ahead so you can be sure of healthful meals at regular times.

Lack of exercise

Trying to squeeze in a workout at the beginning or end of a packed day may feel like it’s going to rob you of sleep instead of help you sleep. But a consistent exercise schedule will not only strengthen your body, it will strengthen your sleep schedule. A University of Georgia study found that sedentary adults who undertook a light exercise program of 20 minutes a day, three days a week, reported feeling greater energy and less fatigue after six weeks.

What to do: Take a good look at your schedule to determine when you can fit in at least three workouts a week. Then add those “appointments” to your calendar—and keep them!

Caffeine

A lot of coffee drinkers think their favorite morning beverage is fighting fatigue, when really it is contributing to it. One of the big issues causing fatigue in the afternoon—around 3:00—is coffee in the morning. Coffee stimulates your adrenal glands. You get an adrenal high, and then you get an adrenal crash. Coffee not only wrecks daytime energy, but it also disturbs nighttime relaxation.

What to do: For steady energy levels all day, try kicking the coffee habit.

Allergies

If you’ve ever had a cold, you know that your symptoms can make it tough to get a good night’s sleep. If you have seasonal allergies, that challenge can extend over months. Common symptoms, such as snoring and restlessness, can be related to allergies—and many people don’t realize that pollen or other allergens are triggering these sleep disturbances.

What to do: Could you have allergies? A trip to your health-care provider can tell you for sure.

The constant glow of a screen

You check your phone first thing in the morning, head to the office to sit in front of a computer, lounge in front of your HDTV in the evening, and then read a few “pages” on your Kindle before you go to sleep. That constant use of digital screens is the biggest cause of insomnia and poor sleep that I’m seeing.

What to do: The glow of the screen can suppress melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, so try to avoid technology for at least an hour before bed.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a double-edged sword when it comes to tiredness. A drink or two can make you feel relaxed and sleepy, and can even help you to fall asleep easier. But as your body metabolizes the alcohol, it can cause fragmented sleep—and result in you feeling tired the next day.

What to do: Skip the alcoholic beverage, and try a sleep-enhancing nonalcoholic drink at night instead. Chamomile tea is a classic sleep aid (bonus: it also helps sooth an upset stomach). Coconut water is also a sleep enhancer. While people often think of it as a rehydrating, energizing drink, it’s also a good bedtime beverage, because it is high in magnesium and can promote relaxation. (And, who knows, it might even help you dream of a tropical island!)

Stay tuned for Part 2 as we delve into life stressor events that can lead to a lack of sleep.