We have our good days and our bad days, our ravenous days and our detox days, our energetic days and our lazy days — we're all human. But let’s focus on being tired. Those days are the worst. We know the feeling of just wanting to lay down, watch TV, eat chips, and not walk more than 500 steps in a day.
It’s alright to have those days every once in a while. You deserve it after an excruciatingly long work week. But when that tiredness becomes a chronic and lasting feeling, then we might have a problem. If it’s not your period, you’re not hungover, and you’ve been getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, then what could it be? We spoke with Dr Clyde Jin of Posture Chiropractic Cremorne to learn about the biggest causes of tiredness and red flags to look out for.
You can’t deny how good it feels after eating a well balanced and nutritious meal. It gives you energy, puts you in a good mood, and supplies your body with beneficial vitamins that help your overall well-being. So when you regularly eat food that’s not exactly at the bottom of the food pyramid, then you may start to feel a bit sluggish.
“Poor nutrition can be totally energy-zapping, leaving your body exhausted after battling all those toxins you have just ingested,” said Dr Jin. “A balanced diet is essential for our body or “motor” to run efficiently. Protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats are essential for normal body function.”
Ideally, you want your diet to centre around vegetables, fruits, proteins, whole grains, and dairy. Not Macca's. A few tips if you feel overwhelmingly tired all the time and suspect it may be your diet:
- Cut back on sugar intake throughout the day.
- Eat breakfast in order to kick start your day with energy.
- Drink heaps of water.
- Eat more natural protein such as lean meats, eggs, almonds, or salmon.
- Make sure you’re actually consuming enough calories.
Your daily habits have a huge impact on your health. We already know that consuming alcohol and caffeine will interfere with your sleep. Caffeine, such as energy drinks or coffee, can stay in your system for up to 24 hours, getting in the way of your body clock, while alcohol interrupts your circadian rhythm, blocks REM sleep, and contributes to multiple bathroom trips throughout the night. As we know, poor quality sleep equals a tired, grumpy human
Other lifestyle factors that contribute to tiredness include not being active enough during the day — living a sedentary lifestyle won’t provide you with enough energy to tackle challenges that are thrown at you. That’s why habitual physical activity is important to our overall health.
“People who exercise regularly usually have stronger cardiopulmonary function, meaning the heart can pump more blood throughout the body,” explained Dr Jin. “Exercise involves deep breathing, which delivers more oxygen to the cells, while at the same time helps stimulate the body’s dopamine and serotonin levels — the ‘feel-good hormones’ — resulting in a brighter and lighter feeling afterwards.”
Stress, anxiety, or depression
Just as our physical health gives us energy, so does the status of our mental health. Dealing with stress is extremely draining. You’ll feel the weight of stress on your body as your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, and your palms start to sweat. So when you’re stressed about something, you may be on high alert, which prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. The same applies to uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, which might make it difficult to get enough sleep at night and therefore leave you tired, worried, and irritable throughout the day.
“Stress is emotionally draining, as is depression, and both will really slow you down,” said Dr Jin. “Meditation or practising some form of mindfulness is an excellent way to de-stress, as are forms of light exercise such as walking on a sunny day, participating in hobbies, listening to or playing music, doing yoga, or watching movies.”
Dr Jin suggests that if you’re stressed, do something that makes you happy. Dealing with depression is a whole other whale that affects people differently. If you feel like you may be struggling with depression, it should be diagnosed and treated by a professional.
If the above reasons don’t seem to relate to you, then your chronic tiredness may be an underlying medical condition. It’s important to note that tiredness and fatigue are two different things.
“Tiredness is generally caused by a lack of sleep and can be easily fixed by ensuring you get quality sleep. An indicator of tiredness may be irritability, forgetfulness, and even lack of strength to lift things,” explained Dr Jin. “Fatigue, on the other hand, may not be due to sleep deprivation but rather by underlying factors. While the symptoms of fatigue may be the same as those for tiredness, they are normally longer-lasting and often more intense.”
The most common conditions to causes of fatigue and tiredness are:
- Sleep apnoea
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Underactive thyroid
- Coeliac disease
- Glandular fever
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
“The body has an innate ability to heal itself, so if you still feel overly tired or fatigued, a consultation with a GP or Allied health profession is necessary,” suggested Dr Jin. “And try to avoid a consult with Dr Google as that may greatly increase your stress levels when incorrectly diagnosed with a terminal illness or something equally as dramatic.”
Poor alignment and posture
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, consider if an uncomfortable or sagging mattress is keeping you up at night. You should be sleeping on something that supports your back and neck as poor alignment is a possible culprit for tiredness.
“The quality of your sleep can be impacted by many factors such as outside noise or sleep hygiene, which includes your pillow, mattress, body temperature, or sleep position,” explained Dr Jin. “Poor posture has a dramatic effect on our energy levels as this inefficient usage of our biomechanics will obviously use up more energy. Something as simple as posture correction can elevate the health of your nervous system. A person’s posture is like a window to the condition of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.”
The Ecosa mattress is engineered to support your spine’s natural alignment, allowing you to relax into restorative sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. The right pillow can also improve your sleep posture to help you get some shut-eye. Whatever the cause of your tiredness may be, take the appropriate steps to seek medical advice and fix the problem so that you have enough energy to enjoy your beautiful life.