Americans are notoriously tired, like all the time. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study showing that one in three adults didn’t get enough sleep (7 or more hours per day) and that this directly affected their productivity at work or school. Today, with post-pandemic stress, this number is likely to be even higher.
The reasons for tiredness are most varied. Some people cram too much into the day and don’t allow for relaxation. Others, however, are simply not preparing for a good night’s sleep and experience the result in the form of persistent fatigue when they are awake.
If you keep wondering why you’re so tired during the day, be aware that it could be related to your lifestyle or bedtime habits. Let’s take a look at some common causes of fatigue.
You’re Sleeping Wrong
Many people have a disruptive sleep because they are uncomfortable and not creating the relaxing space they need. The reasons for sleeping wrong vary: pillows that are too soft or make your head too high, a poorly ventilated room or with extreme temperatures, you’re adopting an uncomfortable position, or your mattress is inadequate.
First of all, a very old mattress will not offer the comfort your body needs, as the materials deteriorate. It is recommended to change mattresses in a period between five and 10 years. Ensure your mattress is the best fit for you and your sleep position, and choose a model that provides pressure relief.
What is a pressure-relieving mattress? It’s a mattress that uses a special compression process that produces microscopic air bubbles inside the memory foam, relieving pressure on your shoulders, back, and hips.
You’re Drinking Too Much Caffeine
Even if you swear that a cup of coffee has no impact on your behavior, caffeine is a stimulant substance. It works by blocking the adenosine receptor – the substance produced by the body to promote drowsiness, thus preventing you from getting sleepy.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, caffeine reaches its maximum level in the blood in 30 to 60 minutes, and its effect can last for three to five hours. Therefore, a cup of coffee just before bedtime can be problematic for proper sleep hygiene.
Try to keep caffeine consumption to the morning or early afternoon. The same goes for energy drinks, whose effect can be even more effective in depriving sleep.
You’re Staring at Screens All Day
Sleeping with a cell phone beside the bed or using a computer or TV in the bedroom are unhealthy sleep habits. All of these screens emit a blue light that tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime, interfering with the body’s natural sleep cycle.
When you get a message or email on your cell phone in the middle of the night, for example, the screen light will stimulate your nervous system and your brain, making it difficult to go back to sleep.
Choose to keep your phone in silent mode and the screen facing down when you go to bed. In the case of screens like a TV or computer, turn them off at least an hour or two before bedtime, allowing your brain a chance to rest. If your job requires you to stare at a screen for long hours, consider getting blue light shielding glasses.
You’re Not Exercising
It may seem like using more energy is not the way to give you more energy, but it’s actually the opposite. Conditioning the body to handle fatigue makes you less tired. Recent studies have shown that regular exercise (at least 150 minutes a week) provides better sleep, while a sedentary lifestyle can lead to insomnia.
Exercise brings about more energy and focus as well, due to the following factors:
- Body Temperature Change– The rise and fall of body temperature during exercise mimic a change in temperature that occurs just before falling asleep. Therefore, exercising can signal to your brain that it’s time for bed.
- Anxiety and Depression Symptoms Relief– Worry and stress are the natural enemies of a good night’s sleep. The practice of physical exercise at night can help reduce anxiety and depression because it releases endorphins (a group of proteins with analgesic power), positively improving the quality of sleep.
- Biological Clock Adjustment– Perhaps your internal biological clock is confused due to bad habits during the day. Exercising at night can help you get the clock-hands right.
You Need to Eat Healthier
Food directly impacts both our physical and mental health. If you eat heavy foods that are difficult to digest, the body is using more energy to process the food, and it will take longer to “turn off” if you decide to lie down in bed with a full stomach. Experts recommend sleeping three hours after dinner.
Healthier foods like lean meats and leafy greens are easier for the body to digest, leaving more energy for other things. Avoid consuming too much sugar and refined carbohydrates at night. Eating lots of sweets, pasta, or bread increases blood sugar levels. It stimulates adrenaline and cortisol production, making you feel more hyperactive and less likely to have a good night of sleep.
You May Need to See a Doctor
A little fatigue from time to time is normal, especially in the face of the tribulations of modern life. But if you are experiencing extreme fatigue and sleepiness that won’t go away, consider seeing a medical professional.
Many things could be impacting your sleep that a doctor can better pinpoint through testing, including serious illnesses such as:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Viral or bacterial infection
- B12 deficiency or insufficiency
Change Your Habits and Sweet Dreams
The National Sleep Foundation says that a good night’s sleep should last between seven and nine hours without interruption. If you’re sleeping less, or waking up all the time and rolling around in bed, fatigue during the day will be unavoidable.
The most common causes of fatigue listed above are relatively easy to solve. A simple change in your daily habits or an investment in a new mattress can guarantee you sweet dreams. However, if fatigue persists, it could be a sign of more severe medical conditions. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor to start looking for the causes.