We often associate fatigue and feeling low on energy with lack of sleep and too much stress right? In actual fact there are many reasons why our body's and our minds can feel tired – some more obvious than others. From an imbalance in hormones, to the common cold, to being anaemic.
It can be hard to pin-point exactly what is causing that sluggish feeling, but when you start to map out your day-to-day habits, diet, and stress levels, a few big clues start to show up.
The following five surprising causes of fatigue are related to things you do everyday and require only a few simple adjustments to start dialling up those energy levels! Of course, if you have been suffering from fatigue for an extended period of time, or it’s been a sudden on-set with no known reason, I would strongly suggest you get your GP to conduct a health check just to be on the safe side.
Five easy to fix reasons for feeling so tired…
1. You're not drinking enough water
Dehydration is one of the most common reasons behind your dehydration. In fact a survey of 300 doctors in the US found that one in five patients go to see them with symptoms – such as tiredness – that can be cause by not drinking enough water.
Action: Keep a glass drink bottle on your desk at work and if you’re prone to forgetting to drink it, prompt yourself with outlook reminders to go off throughout the day! You should be aiming for around 2 litres per day.
2. You're overloading on caffeine
You’re tired, you’re on the way to work or running the kids around and you NEED your morning hit of caffeine right? Whilst caffeine can improve your alertness and general level of ‘awakeness’, you do need to be careful. For some people caffeine has been shown to have the opposite effect and can actually cause fatigue if consumed too much.
Action: Slowly cut down your caffeine levels and see what difference it makes over a two week period. Also be mindful of caffeine found in energy drinks and chocolate (especially dark chocolate)!
3. You've got food allergies you're not aware of
Undiagnosed food allergies can have a huge impact on your energy levels. Speaking from personal experience, an undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten played havoc on my energy levels for years. It was a like flicking the switch on my energy when I discovered what had been keeping me trapped by fatigue.
Action: If in doubt get yourself checked for food allergies and sensitivities. You can also DIY by cutting out certain foods and keep a diary of your energy levels. For example ranking 1 to 10 and recording what you ate. It's simple but it's a great place to start.
4. You're just not moving
Oh the irony hey? In a University of Georgia study, sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising lightly three days a week for as little as 20 minutes at a time reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after six weeks. But that’s not all. Exercise releases serotonin and adenosine which help regulate your sleep rhythms...
Action: Start increasing the amount you move. A 20-30minutes brisk walk around the office block or park at lunch time is a great way to get the blood pumping!
5. Too much screen time before bed
The blue light emitted from your mobile phone, ipad and laptop interferes considerably with your sleep. The type of light emitted actually revs up your brain and can suppress your body’s sleep hormone, melatonin. I know from personal experience that using skype or email too close to when I go to sleep will keep me wired for hours.
Action: Use a blue light filter for your device (google them, there are many out there!) if you must use your screen, otherwise minimise screen use 2 hours before sleep, and where possible leave your phone out of your bedroom to avoid that last sneak look before falling asleep.