Feeling tired is something we’re all too familiar with. Every single one of us. This feeling is particularly heightened at this time of the year.
What’s not normal is feeling constantly tired. Whatever time of the day, every day of the week. When someone asks how you’re doing, your immediate response is “I’m exhausted” and you mean it!
In other cases, this is caused by an underlying condition, but in most, it can be attributed to lifestyle factors that you can alter. Here are some of the reasons you might be feeling excruciatingly tired and how you can get out of that rut.
You’re not sleeping well
Not getting enough sleep is probably one of the most obvious reasons for feeling tired and fatigued throughout the day, and it’s quite a significant one. In addition to getting enough sleep, the quality of the sleep you’re getting matters. Have you ever woken up just before your alarm was set to go off and felt ready to take on not just the day, but the world? That’s what happens when you get high-quality sleep.
Generally, good quality sleep is you being able to fall asleep within 30 minutes or less and sleeping peacefully without waking up more than once in the middle of the night. Snoring also negatively impacts sleep quality.
One thing you can do to achieve better quality sleep is to be active throughout the day. Also, one study found that sleeping and waking up at the same time every day (including weekends) resulted in feeling less fatigued and finding it easier to sleep in the evening. So, sticking to a sleep schedule can also help combat the tiredness you’ve been experiencing.
You have a medical condition
While lifestyle factors are quite common causes for feeling constantly tired — sometimes it’s a medical condition called chronic fatigue syndrome. This condition is typified by a feeling of severe and sometimes debilitating fatigue and tiredness that just doesn’t get better. Interesting fact: chronic fatigue syndrome is most common in women, and there isn’t a cure for it — but it can be managed.
If this is you, then you should consider seeing a medical practitioner to have yourself checked out and possibly diagnosed so that you can begin to manage it.
Extreme fatigue can also be caused by conditions such as sleep apnea, heart disease, anaemia, depression and anxiety.
You’re not active enough
At this point, I think we all know that exercise/being active is one of the main answers to any problem you might be facing. And this is also true for fighting feelings of exhaustion. According to the Discovery Vitality Fittest City Index report, almost 50% of South African adults are not active enough. This makes us one of the most inactive countries in the world (just in case you’re curious, Cape Town was reported as the fittest city, and Johannesburg the second fittest).
This stat already tells us that a sedentary lifestyle is definitely a key factor in our feelings of tiredness. What’s interesting about that is that another study found that being tired was the main reason that middle-aged and older adults gave for not exercising. Lol — this is something a lot of us can relate to.
Nonetheless, countless research has highlighted the energising benefits of exercise. Exercise has been shown to not only reduce fatigue among people with no existing health conditions but also for people with conditions such chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer. And you don’t have to become a fitness influencer to reap the benefits, a little exercise will always go a long way.
You’re not consuming enough calories
We live in a calorie obsessed world — this is partly because so many of us are trying to lose weight and we know that the fewer calories consumed, the less weight gained and the more calories out, the more weight lost. The problem comes when we’re a bit too drastic about the “less calories consumed” part.
The fewer calories you consume (the less you eat), the harder it is to keep up with your vitamin and mineral intake needs. And when you don’t get enough of these important nutrients, such as iron, it can lead to feeling fatigued.
While the total recommended daily calorie intake for adults is dependent on the adult’s age, weight, sex, height and level of physical activity, USA’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends that on average (based on 56kg weight and 1,62m height average), a woman should have between 1600 to 2000 calories a day. As you age, calorie intake needs tend to decrease. But always make sure that these are consumed through a balanced diet.
Staying constantly hydrated throughout the day is very important for keeping your energy levels up. There have been several studies that have found that even being slightly dehydrated can leave you feeling energy-less and tired.
In fact, fatigue is counted among the symptoms of dehydration alongside feeling thirsty, light-headedness and headaches. One way to make sure you’re continually hydrated is to always have water with you on hand and to sip and refill casually throughout the whole day. And remember that whenever you feel thirsty, reach for water first before drinking anything else.
You’re drinking too many energy drinks
It makes sense to reach for an energy drink when you’re feeling de-energised, right? But an energy drink is not always the best solution. While it might give you a temporary boost, the post-boost slump that hits can leave you feeling even more tired than you were.
This is according to one meta-analysis study that found that the energy-high you get from energy drinks is often followed by hectic daytime sleepiness the day after. So, if you consume a lot of energy drinks, or any other highly caffeinated drinks, try to cut back as much as you can and see if this makes a difference.
You’re not dealing with your stress
Ahhhh, stress. Yep, we’re sure you know alllll about that. Unfortunately, prolonged stress is also a key contributor to feelings of tiredness. And interestingly, one study found that avoiding stress led to even higher levels of fatigue — so our favourite strategy towards dealing with stress (which says: just keep going, it’ll eventually go away by itself) is not the answer.
If we’re honest with each other, it’s nearly impossible to avoid situations that cause stress. The only thing we can do is make sure that we have strategies for managing it. Here are our 15 super-simple ways to relieve stress ASAP that you can use to de-stress and get back to the energetic, full of life self you know yourself to be.