The Real Reason You’re Tired (That Has Nothing To Do With How Much Sleep You’re Getting)

If you’re feeling tired, it might not necessarily be an indication that you’re not getting enough sleep.

OK, yes, that does play a role. If you’re not resting for a full eight hours in the evening, then you’re going to feel the result in your mood, alertness and concentration the following day. But what if you’re getting plenty of sleep, but still feel exhausted the next day?

There are plenty of other factors that can determine how tired you feel, and you might find some of them kind of surprising.

You’re eating the wrong stuff

We know that diet plays a huge role in almost everything we do. Gut health impacts almost every other body system, determining everything from your mood to your immune system. And it can be a major signifier in how tired you might feel, regardless of how much sleep you’re having.

If you’re feeling absolutely worn out, especially if those feelings come after eating food, then think about what you’ve been eating. Was it high in sugar? Was it processed? Was it packed with simple white carbs? Was it heavy, dripping with rich sauces? All these things could impact your blood sugar and make you feel more tired than you actually are.

You’re anaemic

Do you feel tired all the time, with a heaviness in your bones that makes you feel like you don’t want to do anything? You could be anaemic, as in, you could have an iron deficiency. You need to head to a doctor for a diagnosis, and afterwards you might have to start taking iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods, like certain meats, legumes and dark leafy greens.

You’re not working out enough

Sometimes, when you’re absolutely wiped out, all you want to do is slump into bed and binge-watch the new season of Queer Eye on Netflix. But that’s actually the worst thing you can do, especially if your exhaustion is a result of not working out enough.

As the wisdom goes, you need to be exercising at least twice a week, mixing it up between intense movement and more gentle exercise that works out every muscle group in your body. If you’re not doing that, your body’s energy levels will start to flag and you’ll begin to feel more and more tired. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, because the less you exercise, the more tired you feel and the more tired you feel, the less inclined you’ll be to exercise. Try moving, even just a little bit, twice a week, to see if that makes a difference to your energy levels.

You’re too stressed

If you’re experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, it’s going to have a huge impact on your mood throughout the day. Stress, particularly in the office and the workplace, will wear you down and drag your energy levels down and eventually impact your mental health and wellness.

There are some very simple ways to combat high stress levels, the key is to find something that works for you. A long hot bath can help soothe anxieties and tensions, while others find that meditation, yoga or listening to a podcast on a walk can bring your stress levels down. Once you find the technique that makes you feel better, try incorporating it into the evenings when you feel the stress weighing down on you.

You’re having too much screen time

Blue light is one of the most damaging things when it comes to our sleep cycles. It impacts our ability to sleep into a natural circadian rhythm and can make it hard to have an unbroken night’s sleep. Where does blue light come from? Screens. And they come with their own set of problems.

Aside from the blue light interrupting your sleep, too much screen time could be wearing you out. Think about it, if you’re spending your whole day looking at a computer screen, and then you get home in the evening and spend hours idly scrolling through Instagram or streaming things on Netflix, of course that’s going to have an impact. Try giving yourself a bit of a screen detox in the evenings, especially if you work with a computer screen all day. Listen to a podcast or read a book before bed instead of looking at Facebook. Your mind will thank you for it.

You might not be getting enough sunlight

Think about the feeling of sun on your skin, how good it feels, how energised you are when the sun hits you. That’s thanks to all that lovely Vitamin D, which combats fatigue and wakes you up. It’s why, in summer, you have high energy levels during the day and often sleep soundly in the evening. But in the winter, when there’s less sun (and generally worse weather), you often feel sluggish and unmotivated. That’s thanks to your lack of Vitamin D. Try using a vitamin spray, which will absorb directly into your body through your mouth.

You’re not drinking enough water

Many people aren’t drinking the recommending two litres of water a day and it might be having a major impact on how tired they feel. Dehydration will wear you down quickly and will make you feel like your energy levels are perilously low. If you reach straight for a fizzy drink or a coffee when you’re thirsty than a glass of water, this could be a problem. Try buying a nice water bottle to keep on your desk at work to remind you to drink up.

Found this useful? This is how to recover after a poor night's sleep.

If you are concerned about your health, wellbeing or sleep, your first port of call should be your GP, who will advise a correct treatment plan.

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