Has being tired become part of your daily routine? Is the idea of a day without caffeine or sugar unfathomable? Well, look no further because here are 10 tips to beat tiredness for good.
If you’re always tired you should ask yourself why. It’s not healthy for your body or your mind to always feel like this. Tiredness can be caused by a number of factors like diet, allergies, lack of sunlight or simply just not getting enough sleep. Coffee or a sugary snack might offer a quick fix to boost your energy but in two or three hours you’ll feel even worse than you did before. Try to find and treat the root cause of your fatigue and you’ll be happier, healthier and more productive.
1. Get Out for a Run, Walk or Cycle
If you’re falling asleep at your desk in work get of the office for a brisk walk, a cycle or a jog before reaching for the coffee. Even a 15-minute brisk walk will give you a boost and help you stay alert and focused. “Does exercise not use more energy?”, you might ask. Remember your Leaving Cert Biology? Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell and produce energy. Exercise causes mitochondria to multiply meaning that at a cellular level you will be producing more energy. Better still, get in the habit of starting your day with a workout and you’ll feel more energised and focused all day. You’ll also sleep better at night. Getting into the swing of it is easier said than done but once you do you’ll wonder how you ever lived without a morning run. Quick easy workouts can include jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, crunches and planks.
2. Sort Your Diet
Think of your body like a car. If your car runs out of fuel its not going to work. Similarly, if you put petrol in a diesel car that’s not going to work either. Unlike a car, however, your body will try to adapt to use inadequate fuel, but your performance will be reduced. Make sure you’re fuelling your body right. Never skip breakfast, have protein and fat in every meal (including snacks), eat loads of vegetables in a variety of colours, don’t eat too much sugar or white carbohydrates, avoid chemicals and additives and don’t eat within two to three hours of going to bed.
A huge cause of fatigue is irregular blood sugar. After eating a sugary or high carbohydrate meal your body releases insulin to reduce your blood sugar levels. This rapid glucose uptake can result in a “sugar crash” also called reactive hypoglycaemia. Protein and fat do not affect blood sugar levels so having these in every meal and reducing sugar and simple carbohydrates will help prevent this crash. Your food is your fuel you should be feeling energised not drained after fuelling up. Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol also cause a blood sugar spike so avoiding these may help in the long run too.
Don’t forget to drink loads of water as well. The recommended daily intake is two litres. On hot days or days where you’re very active, you will need to drink more water to account for perspiration.
3. Eat Every Three Hours
As well as eating the right things you need to eat at the right time. Start your day with a protein-based breakfast within an hour of waking. Throughout the day nibble on snacks like nuts, seeds, hummus and carrot sticks, peanut butter and apple etc. Obviously, in the real world you can’t always eat exactly every three hours and that’s ok, it’s just a rough guide. Be organised to help yourself stay on track with peanut butter in your desk drawer or cereal bars or protein bars in your handbag. Have a little snack on your way home from work or as soon as you get home so you don’t have to wait another two hours until you’ve prepared dinner.
4. Track Your Food
So, you’re loading up on veggies, eating protein and fat every meal, eating every three hours, drinking loads of water but still absolutely shattered? You might have an allergy or intolerance. Keep a food diary to help you notice any pattern between tiredness and food consumed. Print a template to make it easier for yourself.
Wheat, dairy and MSG are common food intolerances. It might be just a mild intolerance meaning you only feel bad after consuming a lot of a particular thing. For example, you might be fine to use sauces and stock cubes with wheat in them but feel absolutely drained after two slices of toast. It is possible to develop food allergies and intolerances later in life and also possible to grow out of them.
5. Take an Iron Supplement
Iron deficiency affects approx. 25% of the world’s population according to the World Health Organisation. It is the most widespread nutrient deficiency. Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness or light-headedness and cold hands and feet. You should feel the difference from an effervescent iron tablet or liquid supplement within a day or two. Regular iron tablets should take about three days. Your body needs sufficient vitamin C to absorb iron, too. If you don’t feel a difference after that iron deficiency probably isn’t the problem.
On the other hand, excess iron in the body can lead to similar symptoms in a disorder called haemochromatosis. If you suspect that you might have an iron deficiency or excess get a blood test done with your doctor.
6. Take a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement
Image: Total Shape
While it’s better to get your nutrition from food a vitamin and mineral supplement might give you a boost when you need it. For an instant boost get a B vitamin complex or a ginseng supplement. If you’re generally run down a full range multivitamin and mineral might be better to get your body back on track.
7. Get More Sunlight
So simple yet so effective. Your skin produces vitamin D from exposure to the sun. The paler your skin is, the more effective you are at producing it. If you have fair skin 20-30 minutes exposure to the sun three times a week without sun cream should get you your weekly recommended intake of vitamin D. Be careful though, some people burn within 10 minutes so you might need to reduce the amount of time you spend in the sun at a time and get out more often.
There are a lot of factors to consider when trying to get the exact right amount of vitamin D from the sun. Try your best to get out in the sun as much as possible. If you still feel you aren’t getting enough vitamin D look at supplementing or getting it through your diet in foods such as egg yolks and fortified cows or plant-based milk.
8. Take Regular Breaks
Taking little breaks lets your brain have a moment to relax meaning you will be productive for longer. Pomodoro is a technique where you set a timer for 25 minutes. In those 25 minutes, you do nothing but focus on your work. Once the 25 minutes is up you take a 5-minute break. There are several different techniques for productivity similar to this model with a block of heavily focused work, followed by a set break time. Depending on the kind of work you do the optimal blocks and break time will be different.
9. Sleep More
There’s only so much good vitamins, break strategies and exercise can do. If you’re consistently not getting enough sleep you’re going to be tired. On average healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
As well as getting enough sleep you need to get a good quality of sleep. Exercising during the day, not eating too close to bedtime and putting away screens an hour before bed are some ways to improve your quality of sleep.
10. Talk to Your Doctor
Chronic tiredness could be a symptom of something more serious. If you seem to be tired no matter what you do it might be time to take a trip to the doctor. Allergic rhinitis, diabetes and an underactive thyroid can all cause you to feel tired. The sooner you get whatever it is under control the sooner you can be back to your old self. And if it turns out that your fatigue isn’t medical at least you can get some tips to beat tiredness from the doctor.
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