Here are Some Reasons You Might be Constantly Tired, Despite Everything
All of us wish we had more energy but for some it is a bigger problem than for others. If you find yourself waking up every morning and feeling completely drained, or getting home from work and having no will to do anything, then you might be at your tether’s end trying to find solutions.
Why will nothing work? Why do all the ‘lifehacks’ end up disappointing? There are a few different possibilities’
You Are Stressed
This sounds like an obvious one but if you are very stressed at work then you might find yourself with very little motivation or energy outside of it. This is also true if you’re overtraining or generally pushing yourself too far.
The problem here is ‘adrenal fatigue’, which basically means that you’ve pushed the hormones and neurotransmitters in your body that are responsible for arousal too far. Eventually, these run dry and you’re left feeling drained and listless.
The aim then is either to identify the cause of the stress/fatigue and eliminate it from your routine, or to find better ways of coping and managing it. Often, just taking a well-needed rest can be a big help!
Your Environment is Bad
If you find yourself feeling rough in the mornings, then this could be the result of something damaging in your immediate environment where you sleep. Common examples include mold or allergens coming through the window. You may be suffering from hay fever! Likewise, too much or too little moisture in the air can also cause similar problems.
Another reason we sometimes feel drained is that we’re missing out on important nutrients. If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, this can cause tiredness as well as other symptoms like tingling extremities. Likewise, deficiencies in various other nutrients can cause a range of other problems from brain fog, to headaches, to poor sleep.
Make sure you are eating a balanced diet and consider a blood test if your energy levels are chronically low.
Think too about more basic things ‘ if you aren’t getting enough water for example, this alone can be enough to seriously hurt your energy levels and your overall wellbeing. Likewise, so too can not eating enough generally!
Your hormone balance is largely responsible for your energy levels, as well as your physique and our mood. A lot of things can affect this, from numerous health conditions, to a generally fast or slow metabolism, to medications. If you find it hard to lose or gain weight and your energy levels are low, then again, consider seeing your doctor as you may find that you have a hormonal imbalance.
As mentioned, medications can impact on your hormone balance (such as the oral contraceptive pill), while other medications ‘ like sleeping aids ‘ can also have lasting negative impacts. Sleep medications in particular will often leave you feeling groggy and the same can be said of anti-anxiety medications and anxiolytics.
Don’t write it off if you’re always tired, see someone about it!
Top Ways to Wake Yourself Up Right Now!
Feeling tired, low on energy or just not as lively and vibrant as you’d like to be? Join the queue!
The good news is that there are things you can do about it in the long term and things you can do in the short term to wake up right now. Here are some of the best options’
Splash Some Cold Water on Your Face
If you splash some cold water on your face, it will have the reaction of causing blood to rush to your face and head (thus oxygenating your brain), while simultaneously giving you more adrenaline and norepinephrine ‘ which are released whenever we get cold. This is a great way to shock yourself awake and it’s something you can do any time ‘ just excuse yourself to the bathroom!
Jump Up and Down
Physical exercise is a great way to wake yourself up because it gets the heart pumping and blood flowing. This doesn’t have to mean that you’re doing a full-blown workout though. Just jumping up and down or doing some press ups is enough to trigger the right result and you should find this can instantly give you a burst of energy.
A lot of tiredness is psychosomatic: which is to say that it’s a combination of both psychological and physical factors. If you are slumped with your shoulders down and arms hanging for instance, this will actually make you feel tireder. Stand with your arms up and out in a ‘V’ shape on the other hand and you’ll enjoy a surge in energy. This is a ‘power position’ and it’s a proven way to release more testosterone.
Likewise, if you’re feeling down, try smiling! ‘Facial feedback’ is a psychological phenomenon that tells us you only have to smile to put yourself in a good mood ‘ even if it’s a fake smile, it works!
Not only will brisk air have the same effect as cold water but any sunshine you get will also trigger the release of positive hormones that help to wake you up and give you more energy.
Have a Snack
If you’re low on blood sugar, then your energy levels will dip in accordance. Don’t eat anything too sugary though, as this will cause a sudden spike followed by a serious dip. Instead, eat something that will slowly release energy throughout the day. A great choice is oats or a saturated fat source like avocado.
Take a Power Nap
If you have 10 minutes, grab a power nap. In fact, anything up to 20 minutes or over 90 minutes will work fine. Don’t stop in-between though, or you’ll wake up during the deepest ‘SWS’ stages of sleep, resulting in grogginess and the dreaded ‘sleep inertia’.
Otherwise, this is a great way to charge your batteries!
Listen to Rock Music
Energizing music is a great way to give yourself a boost. If you don’t fancy rock music, start with something low tempo and then gradually work your way up to faster tracks.
Why Your Energy Comes in Waves and What to do About It
To get the most out of yourself, whether it’s at work or during physical exercise, it is crucial to understand how the body’s systems work. Most particularly, it is very important to recognize how the energy systems work and how they help to keep us awake and focussed throughout the day and soundly asleep during the night.
Once you understand this, you can create a routine that helps you perform your best at the right times.
The Sleep Wake Cycle
The first thing to acknowledge is the body’s sleep/wake cycle. This is called the ‘circadian rhythm’ and it is essentially our body clock, which is set by both external cues (called ‘external zeitgebers’) and internal ones (called ‘internal pacemakers’).
Things like sunlight, the build-up of metabolites in our bodies and even social cues help us to understand when we should be awake and when we should be winding down ready for bed.
Shifting your body clock is very difficult as it means that the external cues and internal ones will be out of alignment until your body is able to sync up again ‘ this is why jetlag is so painful. This is also why Monday is so painful: after two days of waking up at 12pm, it’s very hard to go back to getting up at seven.
The unfortunate solution? That’s right: stick to the same routine during your weekends!
The Anabolic/Catabolic Cycle
Throughout the day, your body will go through several more smaller cycles. These cause you to fluctuate between an ‘anabolic’ state and a ‘catabolic state’.
When we are anabolic, we are calm, relaxed and producing hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good. This is also when the body stores fat and builds muscle.
When we are catabolic meanwhile, we are burning fat for energy, highly focussed and ready for action.
In terms of our evolutionary history ‘ catabolic states were the ‘fight or flight’ states, while anabolic states were our ‘rest and digest’ states. When our blood sugar is low or we’re in danger, we go into a catabolic fight or flight mode. When we’ve eaten and when we’re safe and happy, the body takes stock and starts to recover in an anabolic state.
Ofcourse we aren’t constantly going through these two extremes but we will always be somewhere on that spectrum ‘ either highly focussed, or calm and relaxed. The key is to make sure that we are highly focussed at the right times and calm at the right times.
And this is linked to a number of factors. Eating for instance causes an influx of sugar that puts us in an anabolic, restful state. If you’re having a big lunch then, do it at the start of your break so that you have time to rest and digest ‘ literally.
Likewise, recognize that you can’t spend your whole day in focussed, alert mode without it taking a toll. Make sure you schedule mini breaks and listen to what your body is telling you.
How to Fuel Your Body and Mind With Just the Right Amount of Energy
If you’re going to be as productive as possible, then your diet is incredibly important to consider. Ultimately, what you eat is your main source of fuel and if you aren’t getting enough of it, then you’re going to feel low on energy.
This is something that a lot of people get wrong during the day: unintentionally starving themselves so that by the time they should be firing on all cylinders at work, they’re actually starting to flag and feel listless and drained.
But it’s not as simple as just ‘eating more’. Eat too much and you can end up feeling exhausted too ‘ as we all know from too many massive Christmas dinners and Sunday roasts. Read on then and we’ll look at how you can go about providing yourself with a steady source of energy from your diet.
Slow Release vs Fast Release
What is important is not what you eat or when you eat it but rather how long it takes for the sugar from that food to reach your blood.
All food contains energy in the form of calories. This includes carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
What differs though, is how long it takes for the calories to reach your blood stream ‘ which is dictated by how long it takes to absorb.
When you consume a ‘simple carb’, it essentially gets processed immediately by your body and hits your blood stream quickly. This is anything like white bread, white pasta, chocolate or sweets. The sweeter the food tastes, the purer the sugar is and the more quickly it will be absorbed.
Conversely though, when you consume fats or ‘complex’ carbs, there is more to be processed by the body. This means the sugar is extracted more slowly and is released gradually into the blood.
For the purposes of providing a steady stream of energy, this is far preferable. Otherwise, if energy is absorbed too quickly, this can cause a sudden ‘spike’, followed by an immediate crash. Essentially, the body notes the sudden increase in sugar and responds by releasing insulin. This insulin encourages the sugar to be absorbed for use in the body or to be stored as fat.
Once this happens, the brain will release serotonin, which is the ‘feel good hormone’. Unfortunately, this hormone is also a precursor to melatonin, which is why we feel sleepy immediately after.
Thus, if you want to avoid a spike and a crash, the best recourse is either to have a complex carbohydrate/fat source early in the day to provide steady energy, or to subsist on smaller snacks throughout the day. This is why porridge oats, or an avocado, can make such a great breakfast choice.
How Much Energy do You Need?
On top of this, try to ensure you avoid consuming more calories than you need which can lead to weight gain. Calculate your AMR which is the number of calories you will burn in any given day and then aim to consume somewhere around or just below that number to avoid a surplus.
Some Simple Strategies to Save Energy Throughout the Day
If you hope to do more and accomplish more in your day, then you need to find something that will give. In other words, you can’t keep introducing more and more activities and without finding ways to cut back on your exertion elsewhere. Otherwise, you will eventually burn out because energy is very much a finite thing.
Sometimes this might mean cancelling an evening class, or it might mean going out a little less with friends. But it doesn’t have to be that way; not if you can find smaller ways to save energy throughout the day. Here are some great examples’
Get a Washing Machine
Washing dishes is a big waste of energy that most of us don’t have time for. Instead of slaving away over the sink, why not just get a dishwasher and do half the work? While you’re at it, get machine washable pans as well!
There are ways you can make this even easier for yourself too. For example, why not hire a chef or use a home delivery service to deliver healthy meals to your door? It might seem lazy or like a waste of money, but think about what you could be doing with that time instead. Perhaps more time to get in shape, to write the next great American novel, or to be with your family is worth it?
More Cleaning Utilities
As well as a washing machine, you can also save yourself energy doing various other things throughout the day by outsourcing and automating. For example: why not get a robotic vacuum cleaner? This will automatically clean your carpet or flooring while you relax and kick your feet up! Better yet: why not hire a cleaner?
A lot of us will spend time and energy throughout our day travelling, washing up (despite the last points), calling friends, exercising’ many of these are things that you can multitask. For example, why not catch up on correspondence while walking to the shops with a hands-free kit? Or why not answer urgent emails on the train? That way, when you get home, you can save some time and energy for other things.
You can save a lot of energy on shopping by shopping online. This is especially true if you set up standing orders for things like your food shopping ‘ or even deliveries of flowers to people on birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions!
Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon that occurs when you waste energy making too many small decisions throughout the day. Small decisions can include things like what to wear, what to eat etc. ‘ and this is famously why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit every day during his latter years.
You don’t need to go that far! But do think about the stressful decisions and the time-consuming decisions and see if you can cut them back by introducing simple and smart systems to take care of them for you!