Prolonged fatigue may be a sign of something less obvious. Read Annika Havaste’s piece on how to make yourself energetic and vibrant again.
Author | Annika Havaste
YOU SLEEP BUT STILL FEEL TIRED
Having been in bed for eight hours or more does not necessarily mean that you have had the same time of restorative sleep. If you are tired when you wake up, you should try to find out if you have any habits that keep your body so worked up that it disrupts your sleep quality.
One of the key scientific discoveries has been the circadian clocks of humans. All organs have their own circadian clocks, and periods of being sleep, awake and alert occur under a timetable determined by your body. This is why human wellbeing is optimal if you respect this clock system.
When it comes to sleep, that fact is that the best sleep comes already before midnight. And sleep also operates under a specific system that runs automatically – and cannot be tampered with. There are different sleep phases, but it is vital to note that the deepest sleep phase, which is the most important one in order for the recovery of the body and brain, occurs early in the sleep. Many factors during the day or the evening before going to bed may disrupt the body from getting into deep sleep. As a result, the sleep is not restorative, and you feel tired even if you slept for what should be long enough.
Heavy exercise late in the evening, the blue light of smart devices or failing to calm down in the evening may disrupt your deep sleep – making you tired during the day.
WHEN DO YOU EAT AND DRINK?
A heavy meal late in the evening may keep you up. The body should be able to calm down the digestive system well before you fall asleep. The best thing also for the health of your intestine is a 12-hour fast during the night. If you have a full stomach, it means you blood sugar levels go up, and if they are too high, your sleep may be disrupted.
Alcohol may give an impression of relaxation, but although your mind may be pleased, your body may beg to differ. Alcohol reduces sleep quality significantly and for several hours after consuming it.
Caffeine is natural stimulant. Its effect varies somewhat from person to person. If you are not a sound sleeper, you should only have coffee in the morning or take a break from drinking coffee altogether. This may improve your sleep quality.
CHECK YOUR IRON LEVELS
Iron deficiency is a common factor that causes fatigue. However, you do not always detect it if your hemoglobin levels are normal. Iron levels can be measured in a number of ways, and having the appropriate tests done will give you the full picture and determine whether the levels are high enough. You should at least have your ferritin levels checked to be sure.
The reason for any iron deficiency should also be found to ensure that it does not happen again. Sometimes the reason may be heavy menstruation or a diet that is low on iron. A diet high in vegetables may not ensure sufficient iron intake, and also if you have a habit of having coffee or tea right after a meal.
Coffee, tea and dairy products weaken iron absorption.
Iron deficiency may also be related to intestinal problems. If food is not digested well enough because of a low level of gastric acids, the result is that iron and other trace elements may not be extracted well enough from your food. Low production of gastric acids may be related to eating in a hurry or under stress, weak condition of the gastrointestinal lining (which may be caused by a poor diet) or gastritis. When eating, you should slow down and chew properly so that your digestion has time to react – this also improves the production of gastric acids.
Problems with your intestine can also be a sign of poorly digestible food, so you should seek help if you cannot get persistent symptoms under control, such as feeling bloated, or suffering from heartburn or heavy gas production. No amount of good food will do you good if it is not properly digested or if it contains otherwise healthy foods that simply do not agree with your stomach. Intestinal problems are often felt as fatigue and even depression-like symptoms.
THYROID GLAND – OUR NATURAL PACEMAKER
The thyroid gland is a small but very important organ. It regulates body temperature, and also your alertness and metabolism. If you thyroid is underactive, you will feel tired, and sleeping will not make you feel any better. You weight may also go up without any obvious reason.
The best nutrition for the thyroid is a natural diet rich in vitamins and trace elements. Your diet should also be the source of iodine and selenium that is needed in the production of thyroid hormone. Sometimes thyroid problems may be alleviated by diet changes alone, but if this is not the case, you should consult a doctor.
ENERGY FROM GOOD EATING RHYTHM
You can also improve your energy levels if you eat in the proper rhythm. Having a proper rhythm, in addition to a good and varied diet, is also important for your health and energy levels. You should stick to regular meal times and avoid excessive meals at a time. A tried and tested method is to have a small snack in the afternoon, such as a smoothie, in between meals.
A blood sugar roller coaster or skipping lunch may cause exhaustion in the afternoon.
You blood sugar remains more stable and you remain energetic if your meals have moderate amounts of carbohydrates, especially during lunch. Pasta, rice and bread meals can make you feel tired. Instead your plate should have plenty of vegetables, high-quality cold-pressed oil and a normal portion of protein.