In today’s stupidly busy lives, it’s easy to feel a little fatigued from time to time.
But if you’re feeling tired ALL the time with little to no relief, there may be an underlying cause to address. Presenting some of the most common reasons for chronic tiredness (and what you can do about them).
You’re not sleeping right
This one seems like a no brainer but is also one of the easiest stumbling blocks. As it turns out, we’re in the middle of a sleepiness epidemic, with research by the Sleep Health Foundation finding almost half of us either sleep poorly or not long enough most nights, leaving us to face the day tired, irritable and possibly compromising our health.
The answer? Sleep hygiene! You can dramatically improve your sleep quality by making a few minor adjustments. These include getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, getting some morning sunshine and daily movement to help set your internal rhythms, taking time to wind down before bed (close that laptop and put the phone down!) and making sure your sleep environment is cool, dark and quiet. Hello, sleepy town!
You’re low in iron
Iron deficiency is rampant, with an estimated 1.1 million Aussies not getting enough of this important mineral. Iron is essential for keeping our red blood cells happy and delivering oxygen around our bodies. A lack can result in chronic tiredness, anxiety, dizziness, breathing difficulties and yellow skin (nice). It also does a number on our immunity.
Iron rich foods include red meat, seafood, some beans, dark leafy greens and dried fruit. But chronically low iron levels are best treated by a doctor.
You’re eating too much sugar
Processing large amounts of sugar and processed carbs can be tough for our system. They cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which signals the pancreas to start pumping out insulin to get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells. This spike in blood sugar levels (and inevitable crash) can leave you feeling exhausted.
Swapping sugar and processed carbs for slower energy release foods and foods that high in fibre – think nuts, veggies and lean proteins – can help keep our blood sugar and energy levels at baseline awesome. See you, 3.30-itis!
Keeping our bodies topped up with plenty of H2O is vital for sustaining our energy levels. Dehydration, even at a really mild rate, can cause tiredness, dizziness, problems with focus and irritability (“hangry” is a thing!).
Make sure you’re getting enough water for your age, weight, gender and activity level – it’s a little more complicated that the old eight-a-day, but that’s not a bad place to start! We suggest taking a (reusable) water bottle with you wherever you go, and/or setting a regular water alarm on your phone to make sure you’re keeping hydrated.
Ah stress, is there anything it can’t do? While some short-term stress can actually be beneficial to our energy, focus and productivity, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol over a prolonged period will eventually lead to pure exhaustion and a whole host of other unpleasant side effects (and even major long-term health issues).
If you’re dealing with a high level of stress at home, work or just life in general, you need to address your stressors and find some problem- and symptom-focussed ways of coping. This could involve bigger picture work in trying to reduce the stressors in your life, and/or engaging in ways to help alleviate the symptoms in the short term. Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, regular exercise, and reaching out to your social networks have all proven helpful for combating the symptoms of stress.
If your tiredness is severe and/or accompanied by other less-than-normal symptoms, we’d always recommend checking in with your doctor to root out anything more serious.