If you suffer from insomnia or have inexplicable fatigue throughout the day, you’re not alone. A 2011 study found that 40 per cent of Canadians suffer from sleep disorder symptoms including taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, waking up 30 minutes earlier than intended or waking for more than 30 minutes throughout the night. Bad news: if you’re getting fewer than seven to nine hours of sleep a night, your body is not going to be able to function at its best. But you probably knew that already.
Sometimes our fatigue isn’t even from insomnia. Lifestyle, stress, poor diet, chronic pain and other parts of life can contribute to a feeling of sluggishness or exhaustion too. Assuming there aren’t underlying health issues involved, a few lifestyle checks and changes can give you a little boost during the day and help you get a better sleep at night (logic follows that if you use up more energy during the day, it’s easier to fall asleep – win-win).
Stop your bad eating habits
That might be a tall order, but diet has a huge impact on how your body functions throughout the day and night. Eating processed, overly refined or excessively sugary foods can shock your body and send your blood sugar levels flying. Eating irregularly also has negative effects on your body, because skipping meals encourages your metabolism to go into “starvation mode” in an attempt to conserve your energy. You should strive to eat every three to four hours and focus on eating the right foods for healthy nutrition, digestion and blood sugar levels.
“Eating right” is a huge topic, but there are a few aspects you should be focusing on to boost your energy levels. Make sure you are getting the right amount of lean, good quality protein to keep yourself feeling full and maintain muscle. You should also include healthy fats in your diet since fats help with hormone production and hormones are responsible for mood balancing. The fiber in fruits and veggies is also key in stabilizing mood (although you should be eating plenty of those already anyway for, you know, essential nutrients).
Find out if you’re nutrient deficient
Speaking of nutrients, if fatigue is truly lowering your quality of life, you can have your doctor test for nutrient deficiencies which are a common cause of fatigue. Iron is particularly important because getting less iron than your body needs leads to anemia, symptoms of which are fatigue and weakness.
Other vitamins and nutrients you should consider when you’re assessing your diet are vitamin B and magnesium which both aid in the production of ATP – the energy molecule. These guys are especially important if you’re active during the day or working out regularly as they help with rebuilding muscle that breaks down during the process.
Sorry to say it, but you’re probably not getting enough water. Take your body weight in pounds and divide it by two. That’s the number of ounces you should be drinking every day. Are you getting that much? Measure your water intake for a day and find out. Not drinking enough is number one on the list of reasons you’re probably tired. Herbal teas can replace some of that water during the day, but anything with caffeine is just dehydrating you more.
Eat fruit with high water content
If you’re seriously not able to up your water intake (take a sip of water right. now.) at least make sure your diet includes fruits with a high water content. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon and pineapple are great options.
Be more active throughout the day
It’s not just your diet. Pretty much every workplace study says that sitting stagnant at our desks for eight hours a day is slowly killing us. Well, until the apocalypse hits and we’re running for our lives from zombies or natural disasters every day instead of typing at computers, the desk is a fact of life. You don’t have to be totally still all day though. Take a five to ten minute walk around the office or up and down the stairs every hour or so to get the blood flowing and boost your energy. With all that water you’re drinking, you might have to get up to pee that frequently anyway.
If your office allows, you might be able to go a step further and replace your desk chair with a yoga ball that allows you to engage your muscles the entire time you’re sitting on it. Yoga balls also improve posture which can make you feel more awake and engaged. You could even opt for a standing or convertible desk if it’s not too disruptive to your coworkers.