Sure, everyone feels sleepy sometimes. But there's sleepy, and then there's chronic fatigue that leaves you not wanting to do anything other than curl up in bed and shut out the world. Unfortunately, this kind of exhaustion can lead to many other problems, from relationship issues, to workplace injuries and even increased risk of disease and health problems.
If you routinely find yourself feeling rundown and struggling to stay awake, try tackling the problem with these six simple, natural fixes:
1. Sleep, sleep, sleep!
Yep, it’s absolutely obvious: sleep helps us to feel more refreshed. We may laugh when someone suggests getting some sleep and think “well, duh." But the truth is that people just don’t get enough. We all know the benefits, we all love it — so why aren’t we getting it? A lot of it has to do with how we approach bedtime.
To kickstart more sleep, start a nightly ritual: around 9:30 p.m. each night, turn the TV off, switch your phone on silent and stop checking Facebook. Make yourself a cup of chamomile tea and dim the lights. Read a book, if need be. The point is that for the next hour you should be signaling to your body that it’s time to wind down. By 10:30 p.m. the lights should be out and you'll be on your way to a refreshing night's sleep.
Try this ritual for a few weeks and you'll soon see the difference in your energy levels.
2. Rethink your diet.
Think of your wonderful body as a beautiful car and your food as the fuel you use to keep the car going. You wouldn’t put dirty, horrible fuel into a nice, shiny BMW. You’d want use clean, efficient fuel so it continues to run smoothly for as long as possible. Why not treat your body the same way?
A diet full of fast food, packaged and processed items and refined sugars is only going to make you feel tired, run down and generally awful in the long run. Instead, fuel your body with fruit and vegetables, lean proteins and fresh water.
3. Keep stimulants to a minimum.
Coffee can actually be good for us in moderate doses. In fact, research links one cup a day to plenty of health benefits, from lowering the risk of cancer to reducing cognitive decline. Still, we're living in a very stimulated world and over-consumption of caffeine is too common nowadays.
Keep your coffee hit to one cup a day and try to consume it before 1 p.m. Stay well away from energy drinks and soft drinks. After all, stimulants like caffeine affect your adrenal glands similarly to stress and lead to the secretion of cortisol.
4. Make protein your best friend.
Enjoying protein with every meal and snack will help keep you alert, energized and satiated throughout the day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day — research shows that eating a morning meal high in protein can help you feel more full throughout the day.
Great sources of protein include: lean meats such as chicken, fatty fish like mackerel and salmon, grass fed beef, eggs, nuts and seeds.
5. Stay active.
While exercise has many health benefits, one of the biggest is that it gives us energy. When you don't feel like dragging yourself out of bed to exercise, remember that you'll feel better for it!
Find a form of exercise that you enjoy so it won’t feel like such a chore — staying active doesn't have to mean joining a gym. You can go for a hike with a friend, take the dog for a run, go kayaking or simply do 30 minutes of yoga. It’s doesn't matter — it's all exercise.
6. Check your endocrine system.
The endocrine system is a complex part of the human body with many organs and glands involved. Two glands in particular, the adrenals and thyroid glands, are highly indicated when it comes to severe fatigue issues. The adrenal glands are negatively affected when we're chronically stressed and if the adrenal glands are being affected, the thyroid usually is too. Issues with the thyroid can cause a myriad of symptoms — including fatigue.
Talk to your doctor or health professional about the possibility of your thyroid being under or over active. There are many tests that can measure the activity of the thyroid — and many natural and conventional treatments available.