Fatigue and exhaustion are common health complaints in the U.S., even among those who get adequate sleep. On the whole, this is something we have accepted about our culture, but is it normal to be chronically tired without cause? Many sufferers put their tiredness down to working too much, caring for young children, or having a jam-packed social calendar, without realizing there could be other lifestyle factors at play.
You may think that being tired all the time is merely the price you pay for having a busy life, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are ten things you should stop doing now if you want to feel more energized.
Stop Eating Junk Food
The contents of most junk food can cause spikes in blood sugar that make you crash and feel tired. The best advice is to avoid anything that contains ingredients you don’t recognize, as this approach cuts out most processed foods. For more energy, gravitate toward whole foods, specifically those with magnesium and iron such as seeds, nuts, fish, and leafy vegetables. It’s also important to have breakfast every morning to kick-start your metabolism, so grab a banana or a quick bowl of cereal even when you’re super busy.
Because nicotine is a powerful stimulant, many smokers report insomnia or sleep disruptions after smoking close to bedtime. There’s no getting around the issue: smoking disrupts your sleep, so the best way to overcome the problem is to stop. However, giving up on the habit can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms, so cut back slowly or try using Central Vapors e-cigarettes instead.
Stop Sitting All Day
Many of us have jobs that confine us to desks all day, and it’s common to suffer from poor sleep as a result. As well as being detrimental to our sleep patterns, these long periods of inactivity can have severe implications for our overall health and make us feel lethargic in the short-term.
Recent studies have shown that sitting for more than six hours a day can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, and premature death; however, scientists found that an extra two minutes of walking per hour can minimize these risks. To help improve both your health and your sleep, take regular breaks from your work and get outdoor exercise whenever you can.
Stop Sleeping In
It’s easy to engage in a vicious cycle of tossing and turning at night, then staying in bed all morning to make up for lost sleep. Though you will be tired and groggy after a restless night, it’s better to get up at your regular time and try to wait until your usual bedtime before hitting the hay. This will help reset your body clock so your brain understands when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up, which will help fight daytime fatigue.
Stop Working Late
If you’re running late against a deadline, working into the night might seem like the only chance you have of getting things done. However, it is far better to work in the early hours of the morning once your brain has had a chance to rest. Not only will you find it hard to switch off and de-stimulate your mind after working close to bedtime, but you will be less productive. Sleep facilitates memory and learning, so compromising on this essential function will leave you groggy and unproductive.
Stop Relying on Coffee
No one’s saying you have to give up your caffeine fix in the morning – in fact, some studies suggest there might even be health benefits to drinking a daily cup of coffee. However, if you become too reliant on it, you will experience energy peaks and troughs throughout the day and struggle to regulate your tiredness without caffeine. Drinking caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon could keep you awake at night, contributing further to daytime fatigue, so try to go for a walk or do a ten-minute mindfulness activity to boost your energy levels – and stick to decaf drinks.
Stop Using Your Smartphone Before Bed
You know it’s part of the problem, but still, you can’t seem to resist that late-night scrolling marathon. As well as the blue light from your screen that stunts melatonin production, your phone also engages your brain and disrupts the “winding down” process your body goes through when it’s time to sleep. For better rest at night and more energy the next day, turn your phone off an hour before bed each day (preferably before 9 pm and buy yourself a separate alarm clock. Use the time before sleep to read, meditate, and listen to relaxing music instead.
Stop Drinking Alcohol Before Bed
Although you might think your regular nightcap improves your sleep, the opposite is true. Far from helping your body to relax, alcohol metabolizes in your bloodstream, causing adrenaline surges that peak throughout the night. This is why you often wake early after a heavy night and can’t get back to sleep. What’s more, alcohol dehydrates your body and slows down blood flow, causing your brain to work slowly. In turn, this makes you feel you tired and brings about other hangover symptoms like brain fog and nausea.
Stop Putting the Thermostat on at Night
The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re sleeping in a room that’s too warm, your sleep will be fitful and disruptive. By the same token, if you’re so cold that you’re shivering, you won’t be able to get adequate rest, so stick to your optimum comfort level by layering up with blankets you can strip off during the night.
Stop Putting Off Trips to Your Doctor
There are many reasons why you might be tired all the time, most of which are commonplace, but there could also be a health issue at play. If you feel exhausted all the time and you’re not sure why, stop what you’re doing and head to your doctor’s office for a check-up. You should ask to be tested for hypothyroidism and type 2 diabetes, as chronic tiredness are classic symptoms of both. You may also want to consider whether you could be pregnant, as exhaustion is a common early symptom.