Tag Archives: sleep patterns

Why are you so tired?

Reason's why you're tiredDo you find yourself yawning during the day? (You just yawned, didn’t you?) Would you like to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon? It’s not surprising that we often feel tired.

I know my habits are not the best. I try to do too many things in a single day. I stay up late to watch my favorite shows on DVR. I am stressed and end up getting out of bed early in the morning to get a jump on the day.

Yet, it could be other things that are making us tired. Here are 12 reasons why you might be feeling so fatigued:

You need more sleep
Most of us don’t get enough sleep. We stay up late watching TV, working or surfing the internet on our computer, tablet or smartphone. We get up early to get started on the work day. You should get about 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Avoid caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bed. Turn off the TV before bed and make your bedroom an oasis for sleeping.

You’re wired
Research has shown that using computers, tablets and mobile phones right before bed may interfere with your sleep patterns, leading to less time spent in the deeper sleep stages. Keep the gadgets out of your bedroom and stop using them about an hour before bed.

You have too much stress
Normally, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol will run higher in the morning and dip down at night. This pattern helps you keep a normal daily rhythm. Chronic stress can throw that pattern out of whack. If your cortisol levels stay high all day, it will disrupt your sleep. Try to be conscious of your stress level and do what you can to keep yourself at a moderate level.

You’re under-stressed
You may not have realized that being too laid back can also make you feel more tired. Moderate stress stimulates you and helps boost your immune system. Also, having tasks you need to accomplish can motivate you to stay active. If there’s nothing you are looking forward to doing or excited about, it’s much easier to decide that you are tired.

You’re dehydrated
A healthy woman who doesn’t replace just 1.5% of her water weight can experience mood swings and lower energy levels. Make sure you drink plenty of water based on the weather and your workouts.

You need more exercise
Too much time spent being sedentary can make you feel more tired even though you aren’t using as much energy. Think about it: You have a stressful day at work and that amps up your cortisol and blood glucose levels. Then, you spend the evening at your computer or on the couch watching TV. Your body doesn’t have a chance to release that energy and tension. This keeps you in a revved up state at night and disrupts your sleep. You can see that it’s a vicious cycle that keeps you tired.

So, get moving. Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week can fight off fatigue and give you more energy. You will also sleep better and feel more rested.

You’re depressed
If you have feelings of exhaustion along with sadness and loss of appetite, you may depressed. You may have lost the pleasure in doing things you used to love. If you have these symptoms, you should talk to a doctor or therapist to help you get back to feeling better.

You have a poor diet
Your eating habits can also contribute to your fatigue. Relying on carbs and sugars to get you through the day can make you feel sluggish. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein can help you boost your energy levels.

You’re over-caffeinated
Caffeine can help you be more alert and focused in moderate amounts. However, too much caffeine can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as give you the jitters. If you decide to cut back on your caffeine intake, do so gradually. If you stop suddenly, it can cause headaches and even more fatigue.

You take medication
Many medicines can have side effects of making you feel fatigued. Some examples include certain groups of antidepressants and beta-blockers that are used for migraines and high blood pressure. If you notice that you are feeling more fatigued after you start a new medicine, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

You have low iron or B12
If your iron is low, you could have anemia. Your body struggles to function properly to remove wastes from your cells, and you feel worn out. If you’re feeling sluggish, you can ask your doctor for a simple blood test to see if you should take a supplement.

If you have fatigue with forgetfulness, restless legs, and numbness or tingling, you could have a B12 deficiency. You can take supplements to raise your B12 levels.

You have a disorder
Under and over active thyroid can cause fatigue. A blood test can check your level of thyroid stimulating hormone needed for proper thyroid function. If you are draggy with blurred vision and lots of urination, you could have diabetes. Tiredness is also a sign of heart trouble. If exercising makes you feel worse, then you definitely need to see a doctor.

Are you feeling tired after reading this blog? Do you feel like you could have one or more of these problems? I would start with the basics. Take a look at your sleep patterns, diet, exercise routine and stress levels to see if you need to adjust any of them. If you’re still feeling fatigued, it might be a good idea to talk with your doctor.

Advertisements

6 ways winter affects your sleep

How winter affects sleepIt seems like every year I start having trouble sleeping at night right around the daylight savings time change.

I recently read an article that talks about how the Earth’s axis affects our sleep habits. As the days shorten with the arrival of winter, a gap is created between our internal body clocks and our sleep patterns in comparison to the natural day. Daylight savings time was actually created to help deal with these changes in daylight hours.

Before electricity and the daily grind of getting up at the same time every day to go to work, people woke up with the rising sun and went to bed when it was dark. During the long winter nights, sleep was actually biphasic. That means we slept for a few hours, then woke up for a few hours, and then slept again for a few hours.

Artificial light modified our sleep habits and made them more routine. The good news is that a regular sleep routine and getting plenty of rest are good for our bodies. On the other hand, artificial light means we can stay up long after it’s dark outside and get up before the sun rises. We are more likely to create a pattern of sleep deprivation.

From a previous blog, we know it’s important to get plenty of sleep. Here are 6 ways your sleep can be affected during the winter:

Lack of sunlight
We need sunshine to help us be alert and energetic. A lack of sunlight can make us sleepy and sluggish. During the winter months, many of us get up in the dark and drive to work before it’s barely daylight. By the time we leave work, it’s once again dark. We need the light to tell our bodies it’s time to be awake. On the other hand, we need darkness and nighttime so that our body knows it’s time to go to bed. Spend a few minutes outside each day. Even on dreary days, it’s still good to experience fresh air and natural light.

Lack of exercise
Because you feel tired and unmotivated during the winter months, you may skip your exercise routine. In addition, cold weather can keep you from getting outside and doing chores or activities that would normally tire you out. Try to take a brisk walk or even use the stairs to increase your movement during the day.

Fluctuating sleep patterns
Winter time and cold weather makes it even more appealing to snuggle under the covers and sleep in on the weekends. Just as too little sleep affects you mentally and physically, too much sleep on the weekends can throw off your sleep patterns during the week. It’s best to only vary your bedtime and wake up time by about an hour or so, even on weekends.

Bad eating habits
I know I tend to hibernate in the winter. I want to eat warm, filling comfort foods that aren’t the best choices. But when you eat a heavy meal in the evening, your body has to work harder to digest it. Your full belly can actually keep you awake at night or disrupt your sleep pattern. Keep up your healthy eating habits even in the winter, especially if you aren’t burning as many calories.

Your house temperature
Turning the heat up may make you more comfortable on a cold evening, but it will make it harder for you to sleep. We tend to sleep better in a cooler room because it will keep our body temperature down. However, a room that’s too cold can make it difficult to sleep as well. You need to find the temperature that’s just right to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Sickness
Winter often brings on more colds and flu. We need sleep to help heal our body. Yet, when we get sick, it often interferes with our sleep because we may have a sore throat, stuffed up nose, or run a fever. It can be harder to get a good night’s sleep with cold and flu symptoms.

If you notice you are feeling tired, sluggish and grouchy this winter, take a look at your sleep habits. You may need to make some adjustments to your routine and your sleep environment so that you can get a better night’s sleep.

Do you have tips for creating a healthy sleep routine, even in the winter? We would love to hear from you!

11 tips to getting a good night’s sleep

good nights sleepI do not have the best sleep habits. I like to watch TV or mess with my iPad while lying in bed. I usually have a snack when I should be hitting the sack. I have a hard time shutting my brain down so I can fall asleep. And then I don’t want to get up in the morning.

In a recent blog, we talked about the health benefits of getting more sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep, here are some tips to help you get a better night’s rest:

Set a regular bedtime
Go to bed at the same time every night. By going to bed at the same time, you condition your body to follow a regular pattern of sleep. Then, your body can set its natural clock to help you initiate and maintain sleep.

alarm clockWake up at the same time
On the flip side, you need to wake up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. This will also help regulate your sleep patterns. If you sleep in on weekends, you are more likely to feel draggy during the day and then be unable to fall asleep at your usual time that night. Once the work week starts, your natural sleep rhythm will be out of whack and you’ll have to reset your system again.

Power down the electronics
I know it’s hard, but turn off all the gadgets. That means no TV, laptops or tablets at least an hour before bed. No cuddling with your smart phone either. Some research has shown that using backlit screens before bedtime interferes with sleep.

read a bookRead a book
It’s time to go old school and read a book if you need to relax before bed. Preferably a real book or an e-reader that doesn’t use an internal light source. Also, a fiction book can help you lose yourself in the story and forget about the worries and stress of the day. When you’re trying to fall asleep, think about the story to keep your mind occupied until you drift off.

Make yourself comfortable
Turn your bed into a comfy retreat. If you wake up with a sore back or stiff neck, it may be time to think about a new mattress or a different pillow. Make up your bed with a bedspread or comforter that you love and add soft sheets. The more cozy you feel in bed, the easier it may be to go to sleep.

Keep the room cooler
Another way to be more comfortable is to keep the temperature in your room slightly cooler – around 65 degrees. If you are too hot or too cold, it can interfere with the quality of your sleep.

Watch what you eat and drink
Try not to got to bed either hungry or feeling too full. Your discomfort may keep you awake. If you need a snack to keep you from feeling hungry when you get in bed, keep it small and avoid high-fat foods that will take longer to digest. You also want to limit how much you drink before bed, so that you aren’t making frequent trips to the bathroom in the night.

caffeine cup of coffeeAvoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants that raise blood pressure and energy levels, making it harder to fall asleep. Since alcohol is a depressant, it can act as a sedative but when the effects wear off, your sleep patterns will suffer.

Get some exercise
Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and experience a deeper sleep. However, you should exercise earlier in the day. If you exercise too close to bedtime, it can actually energize you and make it harder to fall asleep.

take a power napTake a power nap
A short nap (15 to 20 minutes) can help you feel energized during the day. However, a long daytime nap will actually interfere with your nighttime sleep, especially if you already struggle with falling asleep or waking up during the night.

Quit worrying!
Trust me, I know that this is easier said than done. I am a huge, obsessive worrier. When I go to bed at night, my brain just won’t shut down. I keep a notebook beside my bed so that I can write down things that I think of as I try to fall asleep. Or, I have found that sometimes it’s better to get up and take care of something I forgot to do before I got in bed. Otherwise, I will just continue to lie in bed and think about it.

Do you have trouble falling asleep? What are your tips to getting a better night’s sleep?