We share some surprising reasons why you’re always tired
With this finding in mind, Dr Beth Ann Malow, director of the Vanderbilt Sleep Center in the United States, helps identify some habits that may be affecting your sleep more than you might think.
You’re eating too much, too late.
“Fatty foods or heavy meals late at night can contribute to stomach discomfort resulting in poor sleep — avoid those late-night take-ways, in fact avoiding eating after dinner or have no more than a light snack.
You’re drinking a nightcap.
Think that late-night glass of wine is helping your REM sleep? Think again. Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it can also cause you to wake up during the night, Malow says.
You’re not consuming enough iron.
Iron-rich foods like red meat, beans and green veggies help promote healthy sleep, Malow advises. So what happens if you’re deficient? According to Malow, low levels of iron can contribute to restless legs and leg kicks during sleep.
You’re drinking caffeine late in the day.
Dr Marlow observes that “In some people, caffeine in the early afternoon can still contribute to problems sleeping.”
You go to sleep (and wake up) at all different times.
“A consistent sleep schedule is important for getting natural brain chemicals, like melatonin, that promote sleep into ‘sync,’” Malow says. “If the sleep schedule varies too much from day to day, that can prevent your body from setting up a regular pattern for these natural brain chemicals to be released. Then they aren’t as effective.”
Achieving a regular sleep/wake pattern is particularly difficult for some people because their work or lifestyle imposes frequently changing schedules. For instance, health care workers, or people engaged in factory production lines, often report poor sleep and day-time tiredness, which is very similar to the “jet-lag” experienced by people flying between different time zones. Fortunately, the advance of health technology has provided effective and convenient means to “re-align” the body’s natural clock and banish such symptoms (see here).
You’re glued to your phone (or your tablet, computer, etc.) before bed.
Malow suggests giving yourself an hour of screen-free time before you hit the sack, but even 30 minutes will help. She suggests having a night-time ritual that transitions you from your tech to prep for sleep, and suggests taking a warm bath prior to sleep as a great preparation.
You’re napping too long.
Twenty to 30 minutes is ideal, Malow says. “That is because you can get a good dose of lighter stages of sleep without getting too deep into the deeper stages of sleep,” she says. “When you get into deeper stages of sleep and then wake up, you can be excessively groggy.” Also, avoid napping too late in the afternoon, which could make it harder to fall asleep when bedtime truly hits.
You don’t work out.
“Exercise is an excellent promoter of sleep,” Malow explains. Why? It makes you tired, decreases muscle tension and promotes relaxation. Malow recommends at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise three times a week, adding that yoga and strength exercises can also help with relaxation and muscle tension.
You’re worrying too much.
Sometimes, your mind is to blame. “Worrying about what happened during the day and what will happen tomorrow are big contributors to insomnia,” Malow says. If that’s the case, she recommends engaging in mindfulness to calm the mind.
If you’re suffering from longer-term stresses in your life, the traditional “go-to” solution has traditionally been the use of prescription tranquillisers and other medications. Fortunately, learning to better cope with stress is another area in which the advance of heath technology has lead to a range effective, home-use and medication-free options, which are well worth exploring (see here).
If you’d like to explore medication-free options to supports better sleep and to combat insomnia, please see here. To further view our complete range of pharmaceutical-free options, to support your health, wellbeing and peak perfromance in study, work and sport, then our home page is a good starting point, here.