Why Am I Tired All The Time?
There have been some positive aspects to the lockdown this year. Professional services firm Actus polled a few hundred people on LinkedIn this summer. Around 62% of surveyed people said that their work-life balance was better than before the lock-down, perhaps because employees no longer need to commute. However, around 90% of them are currently suffering from some level of ‘’lockdown lethargy’’ and have lower energy levels than normal while working from home. What about you? Are you also suffering from ‘’lockdown lethargy’’?
Fatigue can be recognized from signs such as lack of motivation, need for stimulants (caffeine, red meat, alcohol, etc…), being hyper, having a hard time focusing and remembering things, being easily irritated, having joint and muscle pain all the time.Why are you tired all the time? Let’s explore the main reasons why you are tired
Poor Nutrition & Lifestyle
Can you function without caffeine? Do you check your phone every night before going to bed? These habits stimulate your central nervous system, making you feel more awake. Though the right amount of caffeine may give you a boost to get through the day, checking your phone before bed can be a huge problem because the most regenerative sleep is usually before 10pm.
If we look at our eating habits, we must recognize that Christmas is usually the time to indulge in sugary treats. They give us a short-term boost, but they make us crash later in the day. Overtime, this roller coaster of blood sugar levels makes us feel crappy and extremely tired throughout the day.
What about movement? Or lack thereof? Come winter, we adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, which can trick your body into producing more melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Do you ever feel like you are eating the same 5 ingredients every week? Nowadays, and probably more so during lockdown, it may be more challenging to have a balanced diet. Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies are iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, which are all involved in the production of energy.
And what about electrolytes? Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals (magnesium, sodium, potassium) that help your body do much of its work such as producing energy and contracting your muscles.
What is that? Let me ask you this question first: Have you ever noticed that when you get out of the city for a weekend getaway, you always sleep like a baby? This is because you are not exposed to constant stimuli such as bright lights, noise, and electrical waves. Therefore, your body is no longer in a “fight-or-flight” state and can stop releasing the “stress hormones” epinephrine and cortisol to help you cope with the situation. These stress hormones are produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. Adrenal depletion can cause brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, salt and sweet cravings and light-headedness.
Underlying Health Issues
Do not forget that your fatigue could be triggered by underlying conditions. Chronic conditions such as hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, or gut issues may leave you extra tired because your body is constantly using all your energy to fight the inflammation. In that case, addressing the underlying condition would be the first thing to do.
Now that you understand why you are tired all the time, what can you do about it?
Pimp Your Diet
Are you not eating at least 20 different types of foods every week? If not, then I would suggest starting there. Load up on seafood, beans, and leafy greens to get your iron fix and consume almonds, flaxseed, and tofu to increase your magnesium levels.
However, sometimes people will still feel tired despite having the best diet. It might because they have an absorption problem. Let me clarify this point. Nutrients must get to and into our cells. To maximize absorption, you need to make sure that your food is broken down properly into tiny particles so that nutrients can be extracted and absorbed. And this is done by the action of digestive juices such as stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile.
Now, there are many reasons you could have an absorption problem, but we won’t get into that today. I’ll just give you a few tips to improve nutrient absorption. You can start by simply increasing your consumption of bitter foods (sauerkraut, ginger, rocket, brussels sprouts, endives, radishes) as they naturally stimulate the secretion of digestive juices which help to support digestion.
To boost energy levels, one must not forget to keep blood sugar levels stable. So, if you’re going to snack, make sure to focus on complex carbohydrates that provide a slower and more sustained release of energy such as fruit, vegetables and natural snack bars
Move Your Body Smartly
We all know by now that exercise releases endorphins, which are our body's natural hormones. Endorphins contribute to the feeling of euphoria also known as “runner’s high.” When should you exercise? As cliché as it sounds, the best workout is the one you actually do so it doesn’t really matter. However, if you want to benefit from this ‘’runner’s high’’, then exercising in the morning (for at least 20 minutes) is your best option.
Address Glandular Weakness:
Cortisol is not all bad. In the short term, it has an anti-inflammatory role that helps you deal with the stressful event. However, prolonged exposure to stress will drain your adrenal glands and wreak havoc on your energy levels. If you need a stimulant to get you going in the morning, you most likely have some level of adrenal weakness If you want to investigate further, you can do a saliva test to measure your cortisol levels.
What should you do then? Obviously, managing your stress levels is a must. Additionally, you could also try adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwaghanda, rhodiola or schisandra. They can level out cortisol levels, thereby increasing your body’s ability to cope with stress. Plus, they are nourishers not stimulators like caffeine and they help with energy production, endurance, and physical performance. Always ask a healthcare professional before taking herbs though as they are not suitable for everyone.
Ok, that is it for today. In terms of what to do next, I would recommend picking one thing out of the whole article that you’re going to commit to doing every day for the next 21 days. This is how you build new habits 😊
BLOG POST CREATED BY AMANI KAITE, NUTRITIONAL THERAPIST