We know that sleep is vital to our health, but so many of us put rest on the back burner and essentially become exhausted. Because of the sheer number of people in the U.S. who don’t get adequate sleep, the CDC has even gone so far as to call it a “public health problem.”
Between work, family, friends, cooking meals, and running errands, most of us feel pressed for time, and don’t get the rest we need to function optimally. According to WebMD, most adults need between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night. However, most get 7 or less, which might explain our nation’s coffee and energy drink addiction.
Most people have been running on empty for so long, they might not even realize how exhausted they truly are. We will go over some common signs of exhaustion, and also, how you can combat it to feel your best.
Here are 5 signs you’re exhausted (and what to do about it):
1. You hit the snooze button several times each morning.
We have all been there – the alarm goes off, and we don’t want anything to do with it. We wish we could throw it across the room and never have to hear its annoying dinging and ringing ever again. Hitting the snooze button might seem like a harmless habit, but it probably means you haven’t gotten the rest you really need to make it through the day.
What to do: This might seem like a no-brainer, but try going to bed a little earlier each night. Even 15 minutes can make a big difference, and that way, you won’t have to rush so much during your morning routine.
2. You can’t get through the day without multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks.
If you find yourself reaching for coffee during your breaks at work, or downing energy drinks just to stay awake, you probably have surpassed being tired, and entered into the realm of sheer exhaustion. Don’t feel bad about drinking coffee – many studies have proven the health benefits of coffee – it’s the amount of coffee you should pay attention to. Drinking too much coffee leads to dehydration, which actually results in feeling lethargic and exhausted.
What to do: Drink water instead of coffee or energy drinks. Water naturally increases your energy levels and makes you feel more alert, therefore eliminating exhaustion.
3. You feel like taking a nap in the middle of the day.
If you have a healthy, balanced diet consisting of high energy foods, drink enough water, and get adequate sleep, you should make it through the day without feeling too tired. However, if you have trouble keeping your eyes open and regularly feel your body crashing shortly after lunchtime, you might need to reevaluate your sleeping schedule. Naps have wonderful benefits, and taking an occasional nap doesn’t usually point to some serious health problem. Needing a nap everyday, however, might mean you need some more shut eye.
What to do: Start bringing high energy snacks with you to work. Not only will the nutrients in the food help you to stay awake, but countless studies have shown that eating a balanced diet can improve your sleep. Eat natural, whole foods from the Earth, and this will help regulate your sleep, give you energy, and much more.
4. You have trouble concentrating.
A surefire sign you’re exhausted is difficulty focusing. Missing out on rest makes your mind fuzzy, vulnerable to forgetting important dates and facts, and susceptible to making mistakes. During sleep, your body actually regenerates cells, restores the chemical balance in your brain, and regulates hormones. By losing sleep, you miss out on all of these vital processes, which makes your brain feel foggy and disoriented.
What to do: If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try some light yoga or meditation before bed. Many people can’t fall asleep due to racing thoughts that prevent them from easing into relaxation, so calming the mind can greatly improve one’s sleep.
5. You have frequent cravings for junk food.
When you don’t get adequate sleep, you generally feel irritable and cranky. Your brain seeks quick fixes for pleasure, and junk food is a very easy way to obtain that feeling. Also, when you feel exhausted, your body naturally craves calorie-dense foods that will give you a quick boost of energy, according to studies. An occasional indulgence in junk food won’t kill you, but eating it frequently can damage your health, and also make it difficult to sleep at night. So, eating heavily processed foods puts you in a vicious cycle of obtaining quick energy, losing sleep at night due to the lack of nutrients and difficulty in digesting these unnatural foods, and then starting all over again the next day.
What to do: In this case, you’d be much better off taking a quick nap if you can, or packing some fruit or nuts with you for work. Nuts and certain fruits have a surprisingly high amount of calories, and also contain nutrients vital to your health. You will still get energy from the food, without all of the negative side effects from junk food.