Americans are more tired than ever, according to a recent survey. In the survey of thousands of adults in the U.S., more than 55% of respondents said that no amount of rest helps them feel focused or refreshed.
Being chronically tired has far-reaching effects on Americans and society in general.
When you have ongoing fatigue, it interacts with your ability to work, take care of yourself and other people, and do daily activities. Fatigue makes it tough to think clearly, and it can affect how you feel overall, physically and mentally.
When you’re always tired, it can even make your life more dangerous. For example, tired or drowsy driving causes car accidents, many of which are serious and even deadly.
A lot of people don’t realize that it’s their lifestyle that’s making them tired, and it’s not just the result of too little sleep.
Sometimes things that you’re doing to be healthy are even the root cause of your fatigue.
Sitting All Day
Most of us sit nearly all day for our jobs. Whether you work in an office or at home, you may not even think about how much time you spend sitting in front of your computer. You might feel exhausted at the end of the workday even though you physically moved very little.
When you’re constantly using a computer and often have bad posture; as a result, it’s linked to fatigue and also pain, migraines, and other ailments.
One way to deal with fatigue stemming from sedentary work is to try and exercise every hour during the workday.
If you think you won’t remember, set a timer and take a walk around or stretch a bit. It doesn’t have to be a hardcore workout to have benefits on your levels of fatigue and general well-being.
Physical activity can also help reduce some of the built-up anxiety and stress you might have in your mind.
Your Eating Too Much or Too Little
When you’re eating too much or too little, it can affect your levels of energy and fatigue.
If you’re trying to cut calories too drastically, you may not have enough fuel to power you through your day.
Food helps you stay productive and focused, and if you’re very restrictive with what you consume, it can slow down your metabolism and sap your energy.
If you eat too infrequently, you may experience more sluggishness and sleepiness, even if you’re getting enough calories throughout the day.
At the same time, overeating will affect your energy levels negatively too. If you’re not conscious of portion sizes, you may feel it in a lot of ways in your daily life.
If you overeat, it can affect your memory and contribute to mental decline in older people. After overeating, there’s also something called reactive hypoglycemia that can occur.
Your blood sugar drops right after a big meal. Low blood sugar is linked to sluggishness, sleepiness, and headaches. The root cause of hypoglycemia is an excess of insulin production.
To avoid eating habits that make you feel sleepy, eat when hungry. Be mindful when you eat so that you can also notice when you’re full.
Not Eating a Well-Balanced Diet
If you don’t eat an adequately balanced diet, you can be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals that cause you to feel exhausted daily.
You might be eating a certain diet in an attempt to be healthier, but if you’re not paying attention to the nutrients you’re not getting enough of, that can backfire. For example, vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in certain nutrients found predominantly in animal foods, so they may need to supplement.
Deficiencies linked to fatigue include iron, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and magnesium.
Anemia affects 25% of people in the world, with iron deficiency anemia being responsible for half of all anemia cases. Fatigue is the most common symptom of anemia from iron deficiency.
With vitamin B12 deficiency, you can feel fatigued because it’s responsible for oxygen delivery and energy production. Low levels cause fatigue.
No matter your dietary restrictions, you should try to have a balanced diet with predominantly nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Processed foods can negatively affect your energy levels, so avoid them.
Often, foods touted as healthy or diet-friendly, like granola bars, can be highly processed and have a lot of refined sugar and processed grains. While you could think you’re reaching for a healthy snack, it may be fueling your fatigue.
Some people follow a low-carb or carb-restricted diet to lose weight, which also has the potential to affect energy negatively. Cutting carbs can help you lose weight when you’re eliminating things like bread and packaged foods, but you should also try to include healthy carbs in your diet, like fruits and vegetables.
Mental stress can make you feel physically tired. Chronic stress may even lead to stress-related e exhaustion disorder or ED. This medical condition is characterized by a combination of physical and mental symptoms of exhaustion.
Being chronically stressed can also cause functional and structural changes in the brain, leading to chronic inflammation. That chronic inflammation contributes to a host of symptoms, one of which is fatigue.
It can sound counterintuitive to think that too much caffeine could be causing fatigue, but in reality, it can harm your sleep patterns, leading you to feel tired the next day. You get a temporary boost of energy from caffeine.
You may feel those effects at night, though.
Too Much Exercise
Finally, exercise is critical for health and wellness and for combatting fatigue. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo it.
If you’re exercising too much, it can cause your body to burn carbohydrates and fat. If you’re not refueling with enough healthy carbs, you may feel more tired and somewhat drained.
Also, if you exercise too close to bedtime, it can affect your ability to get good quality sleep. When you don’t sleep enough, your body cannot repair the tissues and muscles you used during your workout.