Most of us are all too familiar with that feeling of wishing we could press a snooze button and drift off to sleep right in the midst of a busy day, as perpetual tiredness has become the norm in our 24/7 society.
“We live such fast-paced lives today,” notes Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and author of Revive: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again. “Everyone has so much going on with Facebook and Twitter, work and family, and our bodies aren’t wired to be like that. Unless we do something to counter it, we end up exhausted.”
It may sound simple, but the first step to fighting fatigue and drowsiness is to find out what is sapping your energy, as one or more causes could be at work. From your mental state to the meal choices you make, read on to find out which factors could be affecting you.
1. Bad Sleep Habits
Keeping pace in the information age often means staying plugged in until the very moment we drop off to sleep, but this constant connectivity interferes with our rest. Stimulating programs on TV make it hard to settle down for bed, while the light that emanates from cellphones and other devices can wreak havoc with sleep-regulating melatonin levels.
2. Mental Overload
When stress, anxiety, grief or sadness takes a toll on your mental state, your energy level also suffers. “Depression, in particular, can cause significant tiredness and fatigue,” says Dr. William Kohler, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute, who notes that lack of exposure to serotonin-boosting natural light can exacerbate the problem.
3. Sedentary Lifestyle
Exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind when you’re constantly tired, but a sedentary lifestyle could be the very source of your problem. Physical inactivity slows circulation and leads to low blood oxygen levels, which can leave you feeling seriously sleepy and cause major health problems over the long term.
4. Damaging Dietary Choices
Rushing to meet the demands of the day means many of us skimp on breakfast and lunch, which can cause blood sugar levels to drop and lead to a perpetual state of lethargy. “When you’re fatigued, what you’re eating makes a massive difference in how quickly your body will recover its strength,” says Dr. Lipman, who warns against skipping meals.
5. Medical Conditions
A host of medical conditions—including sleep apnea, hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), allergies and heart disease—can leave you feeling exhausted and may go undiagnosed if you don’t relay your symptoms to your doctor. If you are already being treated for a disorder, medicine may be the culprit, as everything from antihistamines to blood pressure medications can cause drowsiness.
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