We’ve all had those nights where schedules don’t allow you much rest time, and where you wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed. That’s your body’s way of telling you that it needs more sleep, period.
But what about those times where you just feel tired and you really don’t have a good reason? Maybe you’re spending enough time in bed and maybe you’re even getting close to the recommended number of hours for sleep. Even still, though, you feel zonked—tired all the time. If that’s the case, then it might be that something else is happening inside your body to make you more tired than you expect.
Take, for example, your thyroid; it can run too fast or too slow and either one of those actions can lead to you feeling much more tired than you should. And you have to have medical advice for help with a thyroid. What else impacts restful feelings?
The infographic was first published in the article at this link:
“6 Reasons You’re Tired That Don’t Have to Do with How Much Sleep You Get” on Health Perch Below is my “version of facts” based on my personal experience of working with clients who suffered from exhaustion due to poor quality sleep and how we went about correcting it.
1 – Anemia
Although anemia can take different forms, the common denominator is a deficiency of the red blood cells needed by the body to distribute oxygen via the bloodstream. If you have anemia you will most likely feel always tired, or you will easily get exhausted while doing any sort of physical activity. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, dizziness, pale skin, weird cravings for non-food items like dirt and ice (a condition known as pica), headaches, feeling cold, and being irritable often.
If you think you may have anemia your first step should be an appointment with your GP for an evaluation. He/She can send you for tests and then confirm whether or not you’re anemic, what type of anemia you have, and the best course of action for you.
2 – Anxiety
If you are in the grips of anxiety you will most likely feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest when it’s not being squeezed by a g-clamp. Your thoughts are spinning fast in your head draining your energy, and anything and everything can trigger a rat-wheel of worry, dread, panic attacks and so on.
Anxiety can actually make you feel drowsy while you are awake and all the tossing and turning will prevent you from getting restful sleep through the night. The result is that unshakable feeling of being always tired during the day.
Mental and physical exhaustion are likely to make you irritable and short fused. You will be restless and have trouble concentrating thus making it difficult for you to get anything done at work or around the house. Other symptoms of anxiety include muscular tension, shortness of breath, headaches, and even stomachaches.
If you suffer from anxiety you need to look at your lifestyle first and pinpoint the triggers. Then you must deal with them and take (baby) steps towards accepting or resolving the situations causing you anxiety. You could consider taking up activities that will help you relax like yoga, massage, exercise, walking outdoors, meditating, listening to music, making time for hobbies and for social events. Having a good chinwag with friends can do wonders for the anxious soul as can a solitary retreat.
If none of these strategies work your best bet is to talk to a qualified counselor who will be able to help you out.
3 – Food Intolerances
I think we are all familiar with the sleepy feeling that follows a large meal on special occasions. But for those with food sensitivities, the sleepiness happens after each meal if they eat the wrong things for them. In fact, feeling physically fatigued and/or mentally sluggish after eating a certain food is one of the best indicators that you are sensitive to it. And we are not just talking about dairy and gluten here… eating too many starches on their own can also trigger sluggishness in those who have issues with insulin (hello post meal coma!).
The most common signs of food intolerance are bloating, excessive burping, excessive farting, either diarrhea or constipation, feeling always tired and/or inexplicable muscle and joint pain that sets in some time after meals.
If you live in the UK good luck persuading your GP that you may have a food intolerance and need to see a specialist. You really have to lay it down thick and pretend you are about to die to be considered for a referral to a dietitian and even then you may have an unsatisfactory experience (I know I did). That’s not to say that a doctor should be your first port of call but…
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms typical of food sensitivities you are better off becoming your own metabolic detective. Start by keeping a food diary detailing the ingredients of each meal and how you felt after eating them. There are a number of culprits that might be the cause of your troubles: gluten and dairy are the big ones, but also any of the plants belonging to the nightshades family could be to blame. Sadly, these are all the lovely, funky veggies that make food worth eating but if you get rid of all of them at first and then reintroduce them one by one you should be able to find out which ones don’t agree with you.
4 – Hayfever
Hayfever is treacherous because it sends your immune system into overdrive, this drains your body’s energy reserves making you feel like your batteries are flat no matter how much you sleep or rest. Itchy eyes and a runny nose can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, and many over-the-counter remedies designed to keep your symptoms under control can cause drowsiness as a side effect making you feel always tired. This is why when you get hayfever you feel extreme fatigue all the time.
Again, good luck getting your GP to test you for seasonal allergies. In my experience the best you can get from them is a bottle of corticosteroids nasal spray. Although these are very effective at eliminating the symptoms of the hayfever they can cause side effects lasting many weeks. You could go privately but then again all you are going to find out is which pollens you are allergic to. The doctors can make you a vaccine based on your test results that gets injected under your skin weekly during Winter so that you have built up immunity by the time Spring comes round. I had this done and I don’t remember it being effective.
The best thing to do is a quick lifestyle overhaul in the run up to the time of the year when you suffer from hayfever. Eliminate all foods that are known to cause allergies and intolerances, limit alcohol intake, rest more, avoid going outside at dusk and dawn when the pollen count is higher. If you become light sensitive wear sunglasses everywhere and if you can shower often during the day to wash off any pollen stuck to your skin. If you have pets who live outdoors brush them before you hug them as they will have pollen stuck to their furs. Make sure the pollen filter in your car aircon system is clean and set it to recirculate the air in the cabin to be on the safe side.
5 – Sleep Apnoea and snoring
Obstructive sleep apnoea happens when the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interrupting normal breathing. It’s a fairly common condition that leads to your sleep being interrupted regularly throughout the night and restricting the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain leaving you sleepy and always tired during the day.
Although the condition itself isn’t too serious the consequences can be disastrous as your fatigue can affect your ability to concentrate and put you a risk of accidents at work or at the wheel.
Snoring is a less serious condition and one of the symptoms of OSA. Although its effects on the person who snores are less serious the noise can affect their partner’s quality of sleep placing them at increased risk of accidents from lack of concentration. In fact, snoring is one of the top reasons couples divorce in the UK.
Some of causes linked to sleep apnoea are being overweight, being male, going through the menopause, being over 40, using sleeping tablets, having congenital unusual neck structures, smoking, drinking alcohol (especially before going to sleep) and nasal congestion. Because sleep deprivation puts the body under severe stress if you suffer from sleep apnoea you are also at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes and memory loss.
If you or your partner think you may be suffering from sleep apnoea you should go and see a doctor straight away. You can tackle lifestyle factors that may cause the issue for you but it’s better to be checked out to eliminate the possibility of anything sinister causing you to not breathe properly while you sleep.
6 – Overactive or underactive thyroid gland
Thyroid disorders affect 1 in 20 people in the UK and although women are more at risk, they can also affect men, children and babies. There are two types of thyroid disorder: when the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) and when it’s underactive (hypothyroidism).
The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your metabolism: if too many are produced your metabolism works faster and this can lead to an increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, more bowel motions and difficulty sleeping. If not enough thyroid hormones are produced your metabolism will slow down causing you tiredness, weight gain, constipation, depression, tingling in your hands and fingers, heavy periods.
If you suspect that a dysfunctional thyroid may be the cause of you feeling always tired go and see your GP straight away. He or she will refer you to an endocrinologist and request tests to measure your thyroid function. If you need to you will be prescribed medications to normalise your thyroid function. Both types of disorder can lead to more serious consequences if left untreated, in the case of hyperthyroidism you might even experience a thyroid storm which is a life-threatening condition in which all your symptoms suddenly escalate.
As far as lifestyle factors go the usual advice applies to trying and manage your thyroid function. This is regulated by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland which act a bit like a thermostat for your metabolism: if things are moving too slowly or too fast the hypothalamus sends a message to the pituitary gland to tell the thyroid to produce more or less hormones. The pituitary gland is very sensitive to your diet and therefore you should take great care to avoid foods containing refined sugars as well as high glycemic foods.
Napping can stop you from feeling always tired
As you can see your constant fatigue may have different causes that cannot be resolved by simply sleeping more (although if that’s what your body tells you to do, listen carefully). You really need to investigate the reasons behind your tiredness and take action to correct them.
A good place to start is always your lifestyle with an emphasis on food choices, movement and exercise. Eating food that supports your body chemistry can go a long way to help your endocrine system work efficiently and regulate your metabolism so that you have energy all day long, can get restful sleep and can keep your weight under control. The correct exercise protocols can also help you do this as does looking at sources of both physical and emotional stress.
Napping can help you feel better when you are always tired. A recent study showed that taking a 30 minute nap completely reversed the effects of sleep deprivation. The stress hormones caused by lack of proper sleep were completely gone.
If this isn’t enough always consult your doctor before reading another blog post as the quicker you take action the quicker you will be able to enjoy restful sleep every night.