At some point in our hectic schedule, we sometimes want nothing more than to crawl back under the covers for the rest of the day.
Feeling this way from time to time is perfectly normal, as we inevitably get tired from doing errands, being at work eight hours a day, picking up our kids from school, and all the other responsibilities we have to attend to. However, feeling tired the majority of the time can signal something deeper going on besides just drowsiness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one million Americans suffer from chronic fatigue.
If you feel tired more often than not, and can’t pinpoint why, the following common habits could give you the answer you’ve been looking for.
According to studies conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory, even mild dehydration can lead to a significant drop in energy levels, mood, and cognitive abilities. In the studies, dehydration affected those who had just walked for 40 minutes on a treadmill and those who sat at rest equally, meaning that humans need to stay hydrated during any activities.
“Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men,” says Harris Lieberman, a co-author of the study and a research psychologist with the Military Nutrition Division, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts. “In both sexes these adverse mood changes may limit the motivation required to engage in even moderate aerobic exercise. Mild dehydration may also interfere with other daily activities, even when there is no physical demand component present.”
To figure out how much water you should drink, take your weight, divide that number by half, and drink that number of ounces of water per day.
2. You skip meals
We need constant energy throughout our day, especially for those who work highly demanding jobs and have other responsibilities outside of work. We obtain our energy mostly through the nutrients in our food, so when you skip meals, your body’s energy stores become depleted, leaving you feeling lethargic.
Make sure to eat small meals throughout the day, full of healthy, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains in order to keep your energy levels high and get all the nutrients you require.
3. You get on your phone or laptop right before bed
Unfortunately, much of our society keeps their phones and laptops almost permanently attached to them, staying on them the majority of the day. We check our emails and Facebook notifications first thing in the morning, and repeat this ritual right before bed each night. However, various studies have proven that exposure to the harsh blue and white lights emanating from digital devices can disrupt the chemicals in our brains, specifically the hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps control waking and sleeping cycles, so any imbalances in this vitally important hormone can cause you to lose a significant amount of sleep.
Try coming home from work and reading books or playing boardgames with your family instead of automatically scrolling through Facebook or playing Candy Crush; you will find you’ll feel a lot more relaxed, and therefore able to sleep better at night.
4. You eat a diet high in fat
Studies have shown that consuming a diet high in fat can lead to daytime drowsiness and an inability to concentrate, while following a diet high in carbohydrates has the exact opposite effect. Make sure to eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates such as fruits, brown or wild rice and sweet potatoes, and avoid foods cooked in grease and heavy oils. While fats should make up a portion of your diet, opt for nutritious sources of fat like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
5. You drink alcohol before going to bed
Many people think that drinking a glass of wine or two before bed will help them fall asleep faster, and while it initially works, it spikes your insulin levels eventually, causing you to toss and turn in the middle of the night. Researchers at Brown University found that drinking alcohol in the evening hours stimulates the body and mind much more than any other time of the day. Therefore, if you do drink alcohol, make sure to consume it earlier in the day so you can have a restful night’s sleep.