Being constantly tired can cause you problems. So why do you feel tired all the time? Here are a few reasons and how to get your energy back.
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. As a result, sales of supplements such as ginseng, energy drinks and power bars have shot up more than 5% in the last year alone as part of our desperate bid to battle exhaustion.
No wonder figures from a survey by vitamin company Healthspan show a whopping 97% of us claim we feel tired most of the time, and doctors’ records reveal that 10% of people visiting their GP are there solely to investigate unexplained tiredness.
1. You don’t sleep as well as you think
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.
Junk sleep can be caused by stress, but also by over-stimulating the brain too close to bedtime. For example, by checking emails or using tablets and smartphones, that emit a blue light found to disrupt sleep by tricking the brain into producing ‘wake-up’ hormones right when you need to wind down.
Reboot your energy: To avoid junk sleep, you need to develop good sleep hygiene – which means going to bed at a set time, banning screens for an hour beforehand and developing a wind-down routine that prepares your body for sleep, such as a warm bath, followed by a milky drink and half-an-hour reading something easy-going.
2. Your coffee addiction is sapping your energy
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 kip.
Reboot your energy: Avoiding caffeine will increase energy levels in the long run – but cut down gradually, cup by cup, to avoid headaches and irritability.
3. You have an iron deficiency
Figures show that around a third of women are low in iron often due to heavy periods.
Some have low enough iron levels to be anaemic. If you pull down your bottom eyelids and the inner rim looks pale rather than pink, it’s an indicator.
Reboot your energy: A blood test will pick up any iron problems and you’ll be prescribed tablets to boost levels.
4. You’re missing out on vital B-vitamins
Nutritionist Rob Hobson explains: “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.”
Reboot your energy: “You can find this group of vitamins in grains such as brown rice, barley and oats, as well as lean proteins such as oily fish and turkey,” says Rob.
5. You are dehydrated
Losing as little as 2% of your body’s normal water content can take its toll on your energy levels.
And it’s surprisingly easy to become dehydrated, especially as we tend to lose our thirst reflex as we get older.
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.
Reboot your energy: Try to drink every two hours. If you’re not peeing regularly or your urine is very dark, it’s a sign you need to drink more.