Why am I always tired? Do you ask yourself this question? If so, how often do you ask it?
It’s a difficult one when it comes to health and wellbeing, because you could be feeling tired because you are going through a super busy or stressful period and are not managing to get as much rest as your body needs to recover. It could also be a sign of something else that requires attention. If that is your gut feeling, then it should be explored with your GP.
If after testing, the GP rules that there is “nothing wrong with you”, but you are still feeling tired, continue reading as we address some potential causes and treatments that might just help you feeling your pre-fatigue energised self again!
How’s your sleep? Are you getting roughly 8 hours of quality sleep each night? If not, why not? Are you taking the stresses of the day to bed with you? Are you worrying about the length of tomorrow’s to-do-list? Our monkey mind is very good at bouncing from one thought to another in rapid fashion, which can easily become a common sleep repeller.
The thing is, our body heals and reboots itself when we sleep, so that we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day. It also helps guard against many chronic diseases. Your immune system gets some well needed support too, as you produce more white blood cells which attack viruses and bacteria that prevent your body from healing, as well as helping to reduce inflammation in the body. Not to mention what it does to your brain as you get shut eye. Your brain has an inbuilt cleaning system which eliminates toxins and helps prepare for tasks that require higher function and cognition.
In fact, every organ and system go about their house cleaning when we sleep, so a lack of sleep can have a profound impact on fatigue levels, particularly if the issue becomes long-term and chronic.
Fortunately, there are several breathing techniques we can deploy that will help to calm the mind and body and make it easier to drop off into a deep slumber. Below we outline two of our favourites.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise
- Sit with your back straight.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale through your mouth and make a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold this breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale out through your mouth while making the “whoosh” sound for a count of eight.
This is classed as one cycle or one breath. Repeat this breath three more times so you have completed a cycle of four breaths in total.
Keep the tongue in the same spot throughout the whole exercise. If holding your breath for a count of seven is too much, reduce the count and work your way up to seven slowly as you practice more.
Practice the four cycles 2 to 3 times a day. As you become accustomed to it, you can increase to 6 and then 8 cycles 2 to 3 times a day. You can also practice this technique when you are in bed and unable to fall asleep to help relax your body and mind.
The Physiological Sigh
- Take a long deep breath in through your nose.
- Pause for a moment.
- Then take in another short breath, filling the lungs as much as you can.
- Pause for another moment.
- Exhale deeply out through your mouth.
Repeat this process four times 2 to 3 times a day to help you relax. If you are in bed struggling to sleep, repeat 10-15 times sitting or lying down in bed.
You are what you eat and absorb, so your diet and food consumption will also affect your energy levels as well as the quality of your sleep and the ability to fall asleep easily. A healthy diet allows the body to absorb proper nutrients which provides the brain the correct chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters to maintain enough quality sleep.
Studies show that diet has a big impact on energy levels. In addition, eating less fibre and more saturated fat and sugar throughout the day is linked to lighter, less restorative sleep as well as with more waking up throughout the night.
Food choices also help regulate our circadian rhythm; the 24-hour cycle our body follows each day. Our circadian rhythms keep our body clock running on time, which keeps all our bodily functions running on schedule. This includes falling asleep, waking up in the morning, feeling hungry when the body needs energy and metabolising the food we eat.
So, altering what we eat drastically, the amount we eat, or the time we eat, can reprogram the clock our body usually runs on, which can cause sleeplessness by altering our rhythms.
For example, if you eat a large fatty meal close to bedtime which is out of your usual routine, this will take a lot longer to digest. So, when you are wanting your shut eye, your digestive system says, hang on I’m still working! This can be even worse for those that suffer with acid reflux disease or other digestive problems.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is another important point to consider. Your body doesn’t function at its best when its dehydrated, it can disrupt your energy levels and sleep.
You may end up with a dry mouth and nasal passages, which may also increase the likelihood of snoring, which could further disrupt your sleep and impact energy levels.
But don’t wait till the evening to drink your day’s quota of water as drinking too much close to bedtime, could force you wake up because you need to pee! Now that’s another unnecessary impact on your sleep. Stay hydrated throughout the day, this will help to prevent dehydration throughout the night too.
If you want an easy way of adding more nutrient rich foods into your diet without having to munch on fruit and veggies all day, try juicing. According to N.W Walker in his book Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices – what’s missing in your body? Juicing is the best way for your body to receive the nutrients it needs for optimum health. He suggests several recipes which are beneficial for the whole body, the following two juices are suggested for both feeling tired and insomnia.
- Carrot 10oz
- Carrot 10oz
If you are not able to get your full quota of nutrients from the food you eat, then herbs and supplements are another option to consider to fill the nutrient gap.
Ashwagandha is an important herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known as an adaptogen and is believed to increase energy by enhancing your body’s resilience to physical and mental stress. It is also used to improve quality of sleep in times of stress.
Rhodiola rosea is also an adaptogenic herb which enhances your body’s ability to cope with stress. It is known for enhancing physical performance and easing tiredness and mental fatigue.
B vitamins help transform the food you eat into energy that your cells can use. Vitamin B12 also helps to keep your body’s nerves and blood cells in good shape and helps prevent a type of anaemia that can make you weak and tired. Vegetarians and vegans may be more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency, so it is worth getting your levels checked if you suffer from chronic fatigue.
Iron is what the body uses to make haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen from your lungs to the organs and tissues throughout your body. When iron in the body is depleted, your red blood cells cannot carry oxygen to the body’s tissues effectively. This results in anaemia which can leave you feeling fatigued and weak.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 is made naturally in the body and is found in all cells. The highest amounts are found in the heart, kidneys and the liver. Cells use CoQ10 to make energy and protect themselves from oxidative damage.
When CoQ10 levels are low, your body’s cells cannot produce the energy they need to stay healthy and grow. This can lead to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. Although CoQ10 can be found in meat, fish and nuts, the levels aren’t high enough to significantly increase levels in your body, this is when a supplement may be beneficial.
Chronic insomnia can have a gruelling impact on the body. Melatonin is a natural hormone that plays a role in sleep. It is produced and released depending on the time of day – increasing in the evening and falling in the morning.
Insomnia can make you feel constantly tired and low in energy. You may find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Poor sleep quality may be improved by supplementing with melatonin, and it may also help you to fall asleep quicker.
According to studies the characteristics of your gastrointestinal microbiome and metabolism are related to your energy and sleep and circadian rhythm. When it comes to microbiome, we always want to think of diversity. Different bacteria are responsible for different processes in the body so greater diversity equals greater health. A diverse microbiome should also help with issues such as insomnia and feeling tired.
Dr Tom O’Bryan is a recognised world expert on gluten and its impact on health and is a big proponent on healing the gut and ensuring it has a diverse microbiome to treat and prevent autoimmune conditions.
He has a simple protocol you can follow to ensure you are getting plenty of prebiotics and probiotics to ensure your gut has a wide range of good bacteria which will also have a positive impact on your energy and sleep.
Eat one different root vegetable every day, to increase your prebiotic intake. Print out a list of prebiotic foods, other than root vegetables and eat 2 different foods from the list every day and alternate them. Buy five different types of fermented vegetables, then have at least a tablespoon of a different one every day.
Moving will give you energy through several pathways and help you feel less tired. Firstly, at a cellular level. Exercising causes your body to produce more mitochondria inside your muscle cells. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells, as they create fuel out of glucose from the food you eat and oxygen from the air you breathe. Therefore, more mitochondria equal more energy supply.
Movement also boosts oxygen circulation in the body. This not only supports the mitochondria’s energy production, but it also allows your body to function better and to use its energy more efficiently.
Lastly, exercise increases hormone levels that make you feel more energised. I know it can be difficult to exercise when you are feeling tired, but bike ride anyone?
The best treatment route will always be one that addresses the root cause of feeling tired. If that isn’t always evident, it may require further testing for deficiencies, thyroid function, adrenal function and many others. These results will all form part of the jigsaw puzzle in determining why you are feeling tired and will allow for the correct treatment regimen to be put in place, so you can finally start living your best life. Finding a nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner can be vital in getting this type of testing and analysis. You can then make well informed decisions on your healing and wellbeing journey.
Will you try any of these techniques? Let us know in the comments below.
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