Lack of sleep and consequently energy are common problems, often linked with the stresses and strains of modern life. Here we look at some common causes and simple solutions to help combat persistent tiredness.
Symptoms of persistent tiredness
As well as making you feel dreadful, persistent tiredness can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health, making it harder for you to function properly. We find our brains struggling to cope, memory slipping, concentration below par – even our skin can look dull and lacklustre.
The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the body to go about its daily routine; it doesn’t have the time to carry out important repairs or flush out toxins and eventually it breaks down.
So, it really is important you get enough rest.
Take time out to relax
Stress and anxiety are the most common causes of poor sleep so take time out to relax. If you collapse into bed without winding down after a hectic day, you won’t allow your nervous system to shift into a pre-sleep pattern.
Have a warm bath or read a book before going to bed and keep to a bedtime routine; go to bed at the same time each night and set your alarm for the same time each morning. Napping during the day, no matter how tired you might be feeling, is best avoided.
Are you getting enough exercise?
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, fatigue can result from a lack of exercise, especially if you spend most of your day behind a computer screen. Try to exercise for at least 10 minutes a day; cycle to work if you can, get off the bus one stop before your usual stop or take the stairs over the lift. If you’re working from home, make a point move more during the day. Even a short walk at lunchtime can help, and before you offer up your excuses, yes you do have time!
Nutrients to beat fatigue
Keep an eye on your diet. In times of stress certain nutrients are used up more quickly.
Magnesium is a mineral that is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body: we need heaps of it. It has a role to play in nerve and muscle function and energy production, and it helps keep our bones, glucose levels and immune system healthy. It is also important for maintaining energy and aiding sleep.
Brilliant B for energy
B vitamins are essential for energy and the health of the nervous system as well as many other essential functions. Because they are water-soluble, they are not stored the way fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D are. If the diet or digestive system is poor, or if there are extra demands on the mind and body, it may be necessary to increase the intake of B vitamins to avoid running low. Food sources of vitamin B include wholegrains, beans, meat, dairy and eggs.
Alternatively a B vitamin supplement can help.
Could you be low on iron?
Heavy periods, even regular, monthly periods, can cause low iron levels, especially if you are not obtaining enough iron from your diet. A low level of circulating red blood cells can cause profound fatigue because adequate oxygen will not reach the tissues of the body.
Good food sources of iron include lean red meat, liver and shellfish. In general, vegetarian iron is not as easy to absorb but is available in beans, bran flakes, Tofu, figs, kale and lentils. If you feel you can’t get your iron levels up through diet alone, an iron supplement can help.
Ongoing fatigue and lack of energy can also have an identifiable medical cause, such as anaemia or an underactive thyroid, and so if tiredness persists, consult your healthcare professional.