Do you find yourself yawning excessively throughout the day? Are you finding it difficult staying awake and alert when you wake up – even though you feel you’ve slept enough? Is it hard to remember the last time you truly felt refreshed from your night of sleep?
If this sounds familiar to you, know that you’re not alone. A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly 50 percent of Americans experience daytime sleepiness anywhere from three to seven days a week. Another survey by the National Safety Council found that 43 percent of Americans admit they may be too tired to function safely at work. Feeling sleep-deprived can wreak havoc on your daytime routine and leave you feeling drained and foggy the next day. This article explores 5 reasons why you might feel so tired during the day – along with helpful tips to keep you energized and alert!
- Lack of restorative sleep.
We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, but did you know that not all sleep is created equal? Sleep can be characterized into two main types: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep or dream sleep, and non-REM sleep. During non-REM sleep, our body cycles through three stages. Scientists believe that the last non-REM sleep stage, known as slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), is essential for supporting cell renewal and repair. Sleep researchers have found that slow-wave sleep aids the brain’s ability to release pulses of growth hormone that support energy metabolism and muscle repair. Exciting results from recent studies even suggest that slow-wave sleep enhancement may improve cognition, but this research is still in its infancy. Ensuring proper sleep hygiene using these sleep tips may support not only restorative slow-wave sleep, but also your body’s internal healing and growth systems.
A quick change you can make starting this week is to keep a consistent sleep/wake cycle and normalizing your internal biological “clock”, also known as your circadian rhythm. It’s important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day (even on the weekends when possible!), as it keeps your body on a schedule and allows you to get the full 7-9 hours of sleep on a regular basis. To help with keeping your routine, you may even want to pick up blue-light blocking glasses – like the Swannies! As a SleepScore Validated Product, a SleepScore study found that people who wore Swannies in the evening had increased deep sleep and felt they fell asleep faster, slept better, and were more rested in the morning.
You’ll need to give it some time until you can find the right sleeping schedule for you. You can calculate your ideal bedtime by determining what time you need to wake up and counting backwards by 8 hours. Once you get back on track, you should start to get tired only in the evening when the day is over, and your body is ready for another night of rest.
- Too much caffeine.
It often sounds like a good idea to grab yet another cup of coffee to boost our energy if we feel tired before the workday is over. But overdoing it can actually have the opposite effect. Caffeine stays in the body long after you’ve consumed it. In fact, several studies have found that the half-life of coffee (or the amount of time it takes your body to eliminate half a drug) is approximately 4-6 hours. In other words, if you drink a large coffee at 6PM, approximately half the caffeine will still be in your system at midnight! Consuming caffeine 6 hours prior to bed has been shown to reduce total sleep by 1 hour.
So, limit your caffeine intake to morning or early afternoon hours only, and remember that there’s even caffeine in drinks like green tea, soda, energy drinks, and other beverages. You should also limit the amount of caffeine you drink during the day. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, limit your daily caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg per day (around four 8-ounce cups of coffee).
Another reason for feeling so tired all day, especially in the afternoon, might be dehydration.
It’s easy to forget to drink enough liquids when we’re busy going about our daily lives. But neglecting your water intake can swiftly lower your mood, increase fatigue, and make you more prone to headaches. When dehydrated – especially during bouts of exercise – researchers have found that blood pressure can drop and lead to a reduction in blood flow to the brain which may induce fatigue. Dehydration has also been linked to cognitive impairment, particularly short-term memory. Studies measuring self-reported changes to mental states found that dehydration significantly worsened feelings of alertness, sleepiness, and confusion. All of these, in turn, can affect your performance during the day.
To avoid these effects, remind yourself to drink up throughout the day. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that an adequate amount of daily fluid intake is approximately 12-16 cups (2.7-liters) of fluid a day which can come from food and beverages. You can set reminders on your phone, put sticky notes up, or keep a large glass of water in sight. Whatever works for you, staying well hydrated can allow you to sleep more soundly at night and keep you energized during the day.
- Poor diet.
What’s on your menu is directly related to how tired you feel during the day. Some foods make you feel drained, such as junk food, foods with high sugar, refined carbs, and more. Dietary composition can also impact sleep, which can have cascading effects on your energy during the day. For example, Columbia University researchers found that low fiber, high-saturated fat, and sugar intake were associated with reductions to restorative slow-wave sleep.
Making sure you maintain a balanced diet may help support optimal sleep, recover your energy, and have enough of it for the whole day. Try to consume sufficient proteins and unrefined carbs (like quinoa and oats), veggies and fruits for plenty of fibers, nutrients and vitamins, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Another element attributed to feeling tired all day is something we’re all familiar with; stress.
Maybe you’re working too much, are making a big change in your life, dealing with life’s many curve balls, or are preparing for your next big career move. Whatever it is, stress has been shown to be associated with headaches, immune dysfunction, dampened mood, reduced focus, insomnia, chest pain, and overall burnout, just to name a few of the consequences. For example, researchers have found that high levels of emotional exhaustion may cause stress, and high levels of stress can worsen emotional exhaustion.
Make sure stress doesn’t get in your way by learning how to clear your mind. Spend time in nature, work out, share your feelings with others, journal your thoughts, or even try meditating. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and alleviate daytime fatigue. There’s a multitude of ways to decompress and let go of your day’s worries, with many people even turning to CBD for sleep – although more research is needed to fully understand how CBD use affects sleep long-term. Find what works for you and make a habit of de-stressing as often as necessary.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the main reasons why you might be feeling so tired during the day, you can start to develop your own action plan to make positive changes.
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