Sleep hygiene, stress and phones – why am I so tired all the time?
Feeling tired throughout the day can be frustrating. Maybe your eyes won’t stop drooping as you stare at your screen. Or maybe you find it almost impossible to muster the energy to pull yourself out of bed in the morning. You may even find it difficult to get through the whole day without the urge to take a nap.
It is not always easy to get to the bottom of the root cause of fatigue. We spoke to some medical experts to find out why you might be feeling tired all the time — and what to do about it.
What is chronic fatigue?
like dr Patrick Macgovern, a GP who specializes in complex medical problems like chronic fatigue at the Drummartin Clinic in Dublin, tells us there are different types of fatigue. It’s one thing to yawn and doze off after a particularly bad night’s sleep, but if you’re feeling drowsy day after day — even after a long night’s sleep — you may be dealing with a more serious problem. It’s what sleep experts call fatigue and, in some cases, chronic fatigue syndrome.
“There’s a lot of terminology, but I assume that fatigue is considered medically significant when it’s not offset by adequate rest,” says Macgovern. “Then someone who is evaluated is diagnosed with ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ but there is no apparent medical explanation for their fatigue.”
Common reasons why you feel tired all the time
Fatigue can occur for a variety of reasons, and some are easier to pinpoint than others. As Macgovern explains, there are a number of common causes of fatigue that are fairly easy to spot.
1. You have a nutrient deficiency or nutritional problem
A common cause of persistent fatigue is a nutritional issue. What we eat affects how our bodies function; Everything from digesting our food to forming new cells to repairing damage requires energy. If you don’t get the right nutrients, your body can tire prematurely.
“Malnutrition can occur with a nutrient-poor diet,” says Catriona Walsh, a nutritionist from Belfast. “Nevertheless, anything that interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients can also cause it, such as an inflamed gut or medications like antacids.”
Common nutrient deficiencies that have been shown to lead to abnormal fatigue are iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Macgovern also warns that an unbalanced sugar intake can lead to low energy throughout the day. “If someone eats a lot of sugar, their blood sugar level will go up and down and spin like a roller coaster,” he says. “You will be both moody and tired during the day.”
“An unhealthy gut microbiome is also a risk factor. People with chronic fatigue syndrome often have a history of repeated antibiotic use and other factors that can affect their gut bacteria,” Walsh adds.
2. You overdo the caffeine
While many of us assume that caffeine is a great way to boost our energy levels, too much caffeine over a long period of time can sometimes have the opposite effect.
A 2011 study found that while coffee can make us more alert and alert in the short term, it also increases levels of adenosine, the chemical that makes us sleepy. Once the effects of the coffee wear off, muscle fatigue and general drowsiness can occur.
3. You have poor sleep hygiene
Even if you get a decent amount of sleep each night, you may not be getting quality sleep. Basically, quality sleep occurs when the body goes through all the stages of the sleep cycle and you typically sleep through the night without waking up.
Certain habits can affect the quality of your sleep and leave you feeling restless every morning.
4. You have an unhealthy alcohol habit
As Walsh notes, alcohol is a toxin that can make the body feel tired trying to process it.
Alcohol affects everyone differently, but according to Macgovern, many people who drink alcohol regularly struggle with fatigue. “Some people have very sluggish detoxification mechanisms and find they’re ruined after a drink or two the next day.”
5. Stress causes overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system
“Chronic stress, burnout, moral injury [which The Lancet defines as a “strong cognitive and emotional response that can occur following events that violate a person’s moral or ethical code] and trying to juggle too many things can exhaust you completely,” says Walsh.
Macgovern explains why: “When stressed, some people over-activate the sympathetic nervous system,” he says. “Your autonomic nervous system has become very reactive.” In turn, he explains, this can mean the body never enters deep sleep and we wake up feeling rested.
6. You have a hormonal imbalance
One of the most common problems that can affect energy levels during the day is an imbalance in female hormones. As Macgovern explains, research on the subject is lacking, but in his professional experience, hormones play a big part in how tired we feel — especially in women.
“There are still a lot of unrecognized hormonal issues in women today,” says Macgovern.
And not only women with conspicuous hormonal “problems” can suffer from inexplicable tiredness.
“Even if a woman has a good hormone test, she may find that she’s tired five days before her period and for the first few days of that period,” he says. “This could be a sign that the hormones are actually out of kilter. I think there’s a lot of hormonal fatigue in women.
7. Our device habits affect our sleep patterns
It’s no secret that many of us in the digital age have developed an unhealthy attachment to our devices. If you’re someone who spends hours a day scrolling, swiping, and clicking, your body may struggle to reach a state of deep rest, even in the final moments before falling asleep.
“A lot of the younger generation probably never switched off, they never go to sleep,” says Macgovern. “As with chronic stress and anxiety, this can lead to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. The rest and recovery do not occur.”
Is the pandemic contributing to your fatigue?
If you’ve been experiencing increased fatigue since 2020, your body may be reacting to either the Covid virus itself or the stress of the pandemic.
After contracting a virus like the flu or Covid, your body may tire more quickly when recovering, even long after your symptoms have disappeared. “It’s called post-viral fatigue syndrome,” says Macgovern. “Some people just bounce back after infections. Others may take longer to get back to normal.”
And according to Walsh, the fear of the pandemic should not be underestimated. “Social isolation was a huge stressor for a lot of people,” she says. “I think extroverts especially struggled with that. For some people, the stress of not being able to travel to other countries was terrible, not necessarily for vacation but to see relatives again.”
So you’re always tired – what should you do next?
Feeling tired and sleepy throughout the day is not only frustrating, but it can also affect your work and relationships. Here’s what the experts recommend for boosting energy over the long term.
1. Start making some healthy lifestyle changes
According to Walsh, the following lifestyle changes often help people overcome fatigue:
– Stress reduction. While this is easier said than done, Walsh recommends setting aside some time for mindfulness, meditation, hobbies, and creativity when possible.
– Improve your sleep hygiene. If possible, ensure a clean, supportive bed, a soothing sleep environment, clean air, and no blue lights before bed.
– Consult a nutritionist about possible gaps in your diet.
– Limit alcohol consumption.
– Go out.
2. Consult a doctor
As both Walsh and Macgovern explain, in extreme cases of fatigue, the cause is usually a combination of factors. A medical expert is often needed to get to the bottom of the matter.
“You have to find someone who sees the big picture,” says Macgovern, “because unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all solution.”
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/sleep-hygiene-stress-and-phones-why-am-i-so-tired-all-the-time-42330233.html Sleep hygiene, stress and phones – why am I so tired all the time?