When there is so much to do in your day to day life, it’s normal to feel tired, and a little pick me up is a great quick fix. However, how many of us have taken a cat-nap on the train to work, made ridiculous mistakes when exhausted or have been glued to the coffee machine throughout the day? I know at one point in my life, drooling on a stranger’s shoulder became a common occurrence for me on the way to and from work!
If you are getting in your 8 hours of sleep and eating the right food and are still constantly feeling the tank is empty, then it may be another cause that you haven’t thought of before. So, after doing a little digging, here are a few surprising causes of fatigue and how to combat them.
Too much screen time
Many people have turned to screens for their jobs, especially since the shift in home working due to the pandemic. While this has been great for other aspects of work-life balance, it does mean that we are looking at our screens for hours on end with computers, TVs and phones. A study from the College of Optometrists concluded that 1 in 5 adults believe their vision has worsened during the pandemic.
We all remember our parents warning us about the possibility of our juvenile eyes turning square due to too much TV. While that may not have happened, excessive screen time can affect our eyes, causing eye strain and eye fatigue and inhibiting melatonin production (the hormone that makes us tired). This results in low quality sleep and a tired feeling throughout the day—cue zombie-chic for tomorrow’s meeting.
Blue light screen glasses are a way to combat eye fatigue and resume melatonin production at night. The glasses are fitted with filters and anti-reflective coatings that stop the blue light from our screens going into our eyes. Eye drops are also a great way to prevent the eye from drying out when looking at the screen for long periods. Plus, how great does it feel when the cold liquid hits your dry, hot, itchy eyes! While this is great for in the day and our guilty pleasure of nighttime scrolling, putting the phone down at least 30 minutes before bed is also a great way to wind down and maximise the sleep quality.
Not enough water
Shockingly according to the Natural Source Waters Association, nearly a fifth of patients who visit the GP complaining of tiredness and exhaustion are mildly dehydrated. Research shows the body is composed of between 50-75% water, and 73% of that is in the brain! (Excuse me while I run to the kitchen and glug down a few glasses). Symptoms of dehydration often include headaches, muscle fatigue, mental fatigue, dark urine and lightheadedness or dizziness.
The NHS recommends 6-8 glasses of water a day; this is without factoring in exercises of very active lifestyles. If you're struggling to get down eight glasses of water a day, they are ways to help. Fruit in water is a healthy way to liven up the taste with a bonus snack at the end! Or teas and juices are also other options for people who really can’t stand the taste of plain old H20!
Shying away from the sun
Something I am very guilty of is not getting enough sun. As a natural homebody and now recently a homeworker, I definitely don’t get out as much as I should. While soaking up the rays on holiday is fantastic, in our day to day busy lives, this often takes a back seat in our priorities. However, by getting that warm sun on your skin, your body starts to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for combating fatigue, aches and pains, headaches, and poor bone health. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, 1 in 5 people in the UK have low vitamin D levels.
So getting out in the sun is more important than just a need for a nice picnic and fun times. However, if getting out in the sun more is just not an option for you, another way to combat these symptoms are vitamin D supplements. Checking with your local GP about what works for you is always the best bet.
The wrong amount of exercise
Whether you are doing too much or too little, exercise can cause a feeling of tiredness throughout the day. Firstly let’s look at too much. It stands to reason that if you push yourself too hard in the gym too often, you will burn out. While the gym environment and feeling of exercise can be stimulating, there is always too much of a good thing. On the other side of the coin, not doing any activity can also negatively affect your energy levels. Dr Nerina Ranlakhan suggests that inactivity causes tiredness because our “muscles become under-utilised and our energy stagnates”. A 2008 study found that participating in low-intensity exercise positively affected feelings of energy in the group.
Knowing what you can do and being realistic about what you can handle are essential factors when adding exercise into your life. Small measures like taking the stairs rather than the lift or taking a 30 minutes walk every day can help sedentary people. For those gym lovers taking a rest day is vital to maintaining good health and avoiding burnout!
All of these factors can dramatically affect our energy levels and how tired we feel. By making small changes, hopefully, we can see a surge in our energy levels. What you will use this newfound energy for is up to you. Whether it be a new hobby, more time to enjoy friends and family or just feel better within yourself in your day to day, it can only be a good thing.