Do you always feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get?
If so, you’re not alone. In one study from the National Sleep Foundation, 72 percent of Americans admitted to feeling fatigued multiple days per week.
While for some, an actual lack of sleep may certainly be the culprit, there are many health and lifestyle factors that may also be contributing to their chronic sleepiness.
Read on for ten reasons why you may not be waking up refreshed, even after a full night of sleep.
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VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Despite the fact that almost half of Americans are deficient, low vitamin D levels are an often overlooked cause of fatigue. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked in many studies to chronic fatigue, lack of energy, skin issues, and even depression.
If you have a poor diet, spend very little time outdoors, or live in an area without a lot of sunlight you may be especially at risk.
If you think you may be deficient in Vitamin D contact your doctor for a blood test. If you are deficient they may prescribe you a high-dose vitamin D supplement to bring your levels into a normal range. From there, it may be recommended to take an over-the-counter supplement to make sure you don’t become deficient again.
When you’re dehydrated your body experiences a major loss of fluid. This loss causes your heart to work harder at circulating oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This extra work can take a toll on your body and, you guessed it, cause fatigue!
On average, you should be drinking approximately 8 cups of water per day. If you lead a more active lifestyle, you may need more.
STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress and anxiety can obviously keep you up at night. Stress causes the body to produce a hormone called cortisol which pushes the body into “fight or flight” mode making it difficult to fall asleep. It can also prevent you from falling “deeply” asleep which means you’ll be waking up frequently during the night.
For temporary stressors, you might consider a natural sleep aid such as melatonin.
But for deeper anxiety or if you are dealing with long-term stressors, it will be necessary to deal with the underlying cause.
Sleep aids can only do so much and some can even be dangerous when taken too frequently. If you are having trouble, definitely reach out to a trusted therapist or medical professional for help.
“SCREEN TIME” BEFORE BED
Too much “screen time” before going to sleep can play a role in fatigue.
The light that is given off from our devices can actually prevent the body from releasing the necessary levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep patterns.
Levels of melatonin are highest in the evening – this is why our bodies wake in the morning and sleep at night. But if we are using our devices for extended periods of time right before bedtime, our body may get confused and not understand that it’s time to sleep!
A common recommendation is to stop using all screens one hour before bed.
TOO MUCH CAFFEINE
Although most people drink caffeine to stay awake, consuming too much can actually have the opposite effect.
Caffeine causes your body to block signals from a neurotransmitter (adenosine) which causes fatigue. However, it doesn’t actually stop your body from producing the adenosine. That means when your caffeine buzz wears off, there is a build-up of this neurotransmitter which causes you to “crash.”
Then you need more caffeine. Then you crash. And the cycle goes on and on.
If you must drink coffee, limit your exposure to 1-2 cups each morning (although for some, this can still be an issue) or consider weaning off caffeine entirely. While you may experience some withdrawal symptoms during the first few days, such as headache and irritability, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor long-term!
For obvious reasons, a poor diet can lead to fatigue. I’ve said it time and time again, our bodies need a crazy amount of minerals and nutrients in order to fully thrive. If we’re severely lacking in certain areas, it’s going to affect our whole being.
Be sure that you are consuming a diet rich in plant-based proteins, calcium, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
It’s also important to limit your consumption of sugar and starchy carbohydrates. Carbs themselves are not bad! Our bodies truly need them, but we need them in the form of healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, whole grain breads, quinoa, etcetera.
LACK OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
If you’re out of shape, doing even simple daily tasks can require a lot of energy and leave you exhausted. Regular physical activity conditions your body and allows it to move without using as much energy.
Exercise also produces endorphins which provide a temporary boost of energy!
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of regular exercise per week.
INCONSISTENT SLEEP SCHEDULE
Irregular sleep patterns may not seem like a big deal. As long as you’re getting the recommended number of hours each night, why would it matter when you’re actually sleeping?
However, it really does matter!
Your body basically has an “internal” clock known as the circadian rhythm. Your body produces melatonin, as we already discussed, which helps to maintain this “rhythm.” If your schedule is all over the place – for example, going to bed and getting up early during the week and then sleeping until noon and staying up until midnight on the weekends, it can upset your body’s “natural” sleep patterns.
If possible, try maintaining the same sleep schedule every day to help your body stay on track. If that’s not possible – for example, if your work schedule consistently changes – try to simulate “nighttime” for your body when it is time to sleep. Purchase blackout curtains and stay as consistent as you can.
Again, you could also try a melatonin supplement if you have trouble falling asleep.
YOU HAVE KIDS
Having young children and being tired pretty much go hand in hand. Just ask any mother that’s ever lived!
Obviously, large parts of parenthood are out of our control – like getting woken up in the middle of the night by a kiddo who had a nightmare or your child waking up at the crack of dawn every single day.
But one thing you can do is establish a sleep routine with your children. Having a bedtime “routine,” turning off electronics one hour before bed, and making sure they go down at the same time each night can actually help your child develop a consistent sleep schedule. Which means you can to!
UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITION
If you’ve gone through the list above and still haven’t discovered a possible cause for your fatigue, it’s possible that it may be caused by an underlying medical condition.
Things like sleep apnea, thyroid issues, and chronic fatigue syndrome may require treatment from a medical professional.
If you’re tired all the time and are unable to find the underlying cause, be sure to schedule an appointment with your care provider!
Tiredness can affect every aspect of our lives, including our relationships, careers and daily living activities. Being chronically tired can cause memory impairment, depression, low sex drive, and obesity. Not to mention the risks of driving while fatigued. Studies have found that drowsy driving is similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol!
According to the Cleveland Clinic, in severe cases fatigue can even lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
Not dealing with the possible underlying causes of our sleepiness may cause other health issues as well.
If you’re sleep-deprived, it’s imperative that you pinpoint and deal with the underlying cause before it begins to affect your overall health and wellbeing.
*The above information is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for any health-related issues or concerns.