Ask LH: Why Am I So Tired All The Time Even When I Get Enough Sleep?

Dear Lifehacker, I get a good 7–8 hours of sleep every night and exercise at least three times a week, but somehow I still feel tired every day. What’s sapping my energy. and what can I do about it? Signed, Surprisingly Sluggish

Dear SS,

It’s pretty common for people to feel dead-tired occasionally, despite following the general formula for sleep and exercise. The most common energy-zapping culprits are poor-quality sleep, high stress, a bad diet,and children under the age of two. Fortunately, these are mostly temporary, fixable problems. Tiredness or fatigue, however, could also be a symptom of a more serious issue. Let’s take a look at the possible causes for your tiredness.

What Is your Sleep Really Like?

The first thing to do is make sure you’re actually sleeping both soundly and long enough. The oft-recommended eight hours of sleep is just a loose guideline, and the perfect amount of sleep varies from person to person. (In fact, too much sleep can lead to tiredness and other problems just as too little sleep might). Your ideal amount of sleep also changes as you get older.

To find out how much sleep you personally need, conduct an experiment, moving your bedtime around until you wake up naturally just before your morning alarm. You can also use an app like Sleepyti.me to calculate the best time to fall asleep based on your sleep cycles. The theory is if you wake up in between deep sleep cycles instead of in the middle of one, you’ll feel more refreshed and alert instead of groggy and cranky.

Finally, it’s not just how much shut-eye you get but also the quality of your sleep that matters. If you constantly toss and turn in the night, your sleep is sabotaged no matter how many hours you get. People who have sleep apnea sleep poorly because of breathing issues, but many people with the condition don’t even know they have it. Here are a few things you can do about the quality of your sleep:

Don’t Let Your Diet Sabotage Your Energy

If poor sleep isn’t your problem, the next thing to look at is your diet. The foods you eat make you more or less productive and energised, since they’re really the fuel for your brain.

Some snacks and meals keep you satiated for hours, while others are more likely to cause sugar crashes in a short period of time. Eggs and oranges, for example, are more likely to sustain you than crackers and croissants. So if you’re feeling tired primarily at certain times of the day (afternoon crashes, for example), rather than throughout the day, better snack and meal planning can help create a more high-energy day.

Recent research suggests that diets high in fat can lead to daytime sleepiness and less alertness, so a more balanced diet is highly recommended. Citing a study in the journal SLEEP, Science Daily reports:

Results show that higher fat consumption was associated with increased objective daytime sleepiness, while higher carbohydrate intake was associated with increased alertness. There was no relationship between protein consumption and sleepiness or alertness. These findings were independent of the subjects' gender, age, and body mass index as well as the total amount of sleep they were getting and their total caloric intake.

Similarly, other studies suggest you should eat more natural, unprocessed carbs, even at breakfast.

Finally, don't forget to drink enough water every day (and aren’t dehydrating yourself or wrecking your sleep with alcohol and caffeine)!

Make Sure Nothing Is Mentally Draining You

If you’re burnt out, stressed, anxious, depressed or bored, your energy level can drop. Have you experienced a major event recently, such as moving, a breakup or a new job? That can also drain you both physically and mentally.

The cure for this depends on the cause, of course. We’ve tackled these issues before, but if you don’t feel right for an extended period of time (like two weeks or so), you should probably consult a mental health professional.

Get a Physical

Going to the doctor is a good idea if the above sleep, nutrition and psychological causes of fatigue don’t apply to you. Besides lifestyle factors, fatigue can be a sign of a medical issue.

The Mayo Clinic lists several medical conditions that could be behind your exaustion including: anaemia (iron deficiency), heart disease, diabetes and thyroid problems. Even allergies, vitamin D deficiency or the medications you’re taking could be making you tired.

A full checkup and bloodwork from your doctor can help identify why lacking in energy and what you can do about it. The NIH says:

The pattern of fatigue may help your doctor determine its cause. For example, if you wake up in the morning rested but quickly develop fatigue with activity, you may have a condition such as an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, if you wake up with a low level of energy and have fatigue that lasts throughout the day, you may be depressed.

If all of this has you worried, don't fret. The institute also says that fatigue is a common symptom and usually not due to a serious disease. Just remember to get your checkup and tweak your sleep, exercise, relaxation and nutrition habits.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Ah, yes. A perfect article to read right now after I'm still tired from 9 hours of sleep haha.

    Leaky gut can do this

    Food particles getting through your intestinal wall and into the blood steam and brain where it doesn't belong
    It's also very hard to diagnose, so your doctor may not know or mention it at all
    http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/leaky-gut-syndrome

    http://voices.yahoo.com/understanding-link-between-fatigue-leaky-gut-syndrome-5927942.html?cat=70

      Leaky gut is a complete and utter load of garbage.

      Don't really trust webmd and yahoo voices as legit medical sources

    I had this trouble severely for a while. I'm still not sure if I might have had a mild virus or something, it was extremely bad and lasted for a very long time. In the end I started forcing myself to go to bed at 12am at the latest every night and to eat better (including oranges), and my energy levels during the day, especially in the afternoons, are back to normal now finally.

    -I was so tired I was constantly drinking coffee to try and stay alert. In the afternoons I felt so exhausted I thought I'd die. I'd get home and be shaking from exhaustion and just go straight to bed at about 4 in the afternoon. My job wasn't that stressful and consisted 100% of me sitting comfortably in a boring office.

    Last edited 14/06/13 1:14 pm

    level your bloodsugar at night and you will wake up a lot less groggy.

    try a table spoon of almond butter (two if u can get them down) or peanut butter as a substitute (if so get it in as natural form as possible).

    If you want to kick it up add a protein shake (30g) with 5g creatine.

    I've noticed, how alert I am depends a lot on whether I woke up naturally at the end of a REM cycle
    If I get 6, 8, 10 or 12 hrs, I feel great
    If I get 5, 7, 9, 11 hrs, I feel terrible for the whole day

    And inflammation from a mild fungal infection (antibiotics will not work, but drinking diluted vinegar for a few days will clear it up) can make you fatigued for months. I had to clear up a mild sinus infection this way, guess some spores managed to get in my airways from somewhere.

    Do light exercise and yoga in the morning to get your blood and lymph system pumping, you will notice a dramatic difference in energy levels.

    Recently, I read about scientist calling this condition the TATT (Tired All the Time) syndrome. It can be caused by numerous irritants from improper diet to stress. The best way to fight is to exercise, improve the quality of your meals and try to get at least 6 hours of undisturbed sleep (more if your body needs it). There are ways to fight tiredness on short-term bases by drinking mint tea, eating chocolate and stepping outdoors for a breath of fresh air. However, these will only keep you energized for a short while.

    Additionally, it would be a good idea to check if your AC filter and your duct systems are properly cleaned. You will be amazed at the negative effect bacteria and germ that invade them can have on your overall health. Not only do they cause allergies and respiratory problems, but they can also be the reason for your TATT.

    I hope this will help you!

    Yours sincerely,

    Megan Steel
    [email protected] Paul's Cleaning Melbourne

    Last edited 17/07/14 6:36 pm

    For me there was 2 main problems:
    1. I was eating too much before going to sleep. My body was busy all night with internal processes.
    2. Lack of fresh air.

    I've started to open window before going to bed. Sometimes even during the night. You can read about CO2 poisoning, for example, here:
    http://wakeuptired.com/wake-up-tired/air

    Especially it is dangerous in winter. All windows are closed, radiators make air dry etc...
    The main point: make your bedroom sleeping-friendly first and only after that start looking for problems inside you.

    If you are tired even after you get enough sleep, can be due to below two reasons . Either your body is not ready to rest or your mind. It's like you drink a red bull or a coffee and trying to go to sleep.

    The best solution for this is to meditate few minutes and try to keep your focus on just one thing .

    Also, keep your house clean. Cleart mind and environment will help you to relax.

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