The following fact gets a lot of people annoyed and defensive but it’s 100% true:
Fatigue (tiredness, lack of energy) is almost always the result of your diet & lifestyle, and NOT lack of sleep.
Don’t believe me? Consider this:
Have you tried going to bed on time but couldn’t fall asleep for a while? Then it’s probably not a sleep problem.
Have you slept more than 7.5h and still feel tired? That’s not a sleep problem.
Do you wake up with a headache and feel like you never really slept? Yep, not a sleep problem.
Have you tried “sleeping it off” but still wake up early and drowsy? Well if sleeping doesn’t fix it, it can’t be a sleeping problem.
You see, if it was a lack of sleep that caused fatigue, no one would ever be suffering for more than a day.
Why? Because the solution is simple and obvious - just sleep it off, bro.
Since sleeping is not the reason for feeling drowsy, what is?
Chances are it’s your diet and lifestyle. And fortunately, there’s A LOT you can do about it.
1. Stop skipping main meals
I get it - you don’t usually have breakfast. Maybe you never have the time, or the appetite, or you’re “fasting”. Maybe you’re too busy to have lunch at work so you skip it, convincing yourself it’s good missing out on “some extra calories”.
But then you get particularly tired and irritable in the afternoon, and you snack on anything you lay your eyes on.
Make it a habit to have regular main meals and your energy levels will likely stabilise
2. Reduce sugar and stimulants
Sugar and other stimulants (e.g. caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol) give you a temporary energy raise followed by a noticeable energy dip. To put it another way, you’re borrowing energy from your future self 2-4 hours later.
This is not a good long-term strategy, particularly since your future self tries to borrow it from their future self... And just like loans and borrowed money aren’t making most people rich, borrowed energy needs to be paid back.
Avoid snacking on processed crap (chocolate, flapjacks, the almighty granola bars), reduce daily coffees to one (don’t worry, you’ll survive) and reduce alcohol to one-two glasses per week. Don’t cut it all at once unless you want to feel even more tired for a while.
3. Balance stress and relaxation
Most of us live stressful lives. We press on the gas pedal and never really hit the brakes. I’m not the person to tell you to quit your job and move to the mountain. In fact, too much relaxation is also bad - you do nothing and feel useless.
Pressing on the gas will burn your engine off. Sitting on the brakes won’t get you anywhere. You need to learn to use both.
If your days can be stressful, devote enough time (at least an hour every two days) to relieve that stress. Do stuff that helps you relax and you happy, and enjoy the crap out of it.
4. Raise your heart rate. Every. Single. Day.
I know it sounds counterintuitive but it’s true:
Exercise gives you more energy, not less.
It’s not really complicated maths differentiations. You exercise now and feel better afterwards. You feel sleepy in the evening, so you go to bed on time, get your full 8 hours and wake up refreshed.
5. Check for any energy-depleting medical conditions
If you have anaemia (iron or B12 deficiency), hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, an undiscovered food sensitivity or any condition causing an imbalance in hormone levels, you could experience fatigue as a symptom. If you’re suspecting something like that please go get checked. Most people nowadays google their symptoms and self-diagnose. There’s no point in trying to treat a condition you don’t have. Go speak to a doctor and get to the root cause.
6. Stay hydrated.
That’s it. Simple.
Feeling drowsy or lacking energy is a struggle that can stay with you for days and weeks at a time. If sleeping it off doesn’t help, you need to improve your nutrition, focus on relieving stress regularly and staying active.
Hope to see you on the other side. Good luck.