Written by: Toni Foot
If you suffer from fatigue there are a few small changes you can make to feel better. In many cases, fatigue is caused by lifestyle factors such as stress or poor nutrition so addressing these will make a massive difference to how you feel.
Taking a nap during the day might sound like a lovely idea, especially if you have the opportunity to rest for a while. However, if you regularly nap then your sleep-wake cycle will be interrupted, meaning that you don’t get good quality sleep at night. This then means you will feel more tired during the day and need another nap the following day!
Don’t rely on quick-fixes
Coffee, tea and soft drinks all contain caffeine (a stimulant). This makes you feel wide-awake for a short while, but as soon as the caffeine wears off you experience a dip in energy levels as your body returns to normal. If you have lots of caffeine in your diet, try removing it for a few weeks and see if your energy levels improve.
Reduce sugar intake
As with caffeine, sugar gives you a short burst of energy, followed by a dip (or ‘crash’) as the effects wear off. Try to avoid sugary snacks or drinks. If you need a snack try a banana or slice of malt bread instead as these release energy much slower than sugary snacks.
Alcohol is not your friend
Although having an alcoholic drink may help you nod off, sleep following alcohol is not as deep as natural sleep. What this means, is that the sleep you get is not good quality, leaving you feeling tired despite getting several hours of sleep.
If you are under stress, your body will not be able to truly recharge during sleep as you will spend less time in deep sleep. Try writing a list of things you could do to reduce your stress levels and work through it. This is a great way to see progress, reducing stress as you get things off your mind. If you need a bit more help to reduce your stress levels, ask your GP to help you access some cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), or for advice on getting counseling privately.
Reduce blue light exposure
Our bodies know when to go to sleep by the amount of light absorbed. We settle into a pattern of sleep that allows us to sleep at night and be awake during the day because we are exposed to much more light during the day. If you sit up late at night exposed to blue light (TV, computer screens, tablets, Smartphones etc.) you confuse your body into releasing hormones that wake you up rather than sending you to sleep. Try reading a book or listening to music instead.
Get some exercise
You might not feel like going for a run if you are suffering from fatigue, but a little bit of exercise can be a fantastic way of encouraging your body to release energy into your system. Try just doing a tiny bit of gentle exercise each day, increasing the time or intensity each day, as you feel able to do so. Over time, you should find that you feel much more energized.
Fuel your body
If you are feeling tired you may not be giving your body the fuel it needs to function properly. Are you getting several portions of vegetables each day? If your diet is predominated by large portions of starchy foods, especially if you don’t get much exercise, you will feel sleepy. Keep a food and drink diary for a week or two, noting when you feel most tired along the way. You may be surprised by the patterns that emerge. This is also a great way to see if you are getting plenty of nutritious food as you can count up how many portions of each type of food you eat over a few days.
With a little bit of love, your body should start feeling much more energized and awake. However, if your fatigue continues to be a problem, or gets worse, it may be a good idea to check in with your GP.