Research has shown that up to one in every five of us struggles with “feeling tired all the time,” but while it’s common to feel fatigued often, it may be the sign of a more serious underlying condition. “In some cases, fatigue can be the sign of a more serious underlying condition such as diabetes, so it’s always a good idea to speak with your health care provider, before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle,” says Brenda Manfredi, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at St. Joseph Health Medical Group. “However, more often than not it is the sign of lack of sleep, exercise, or a direct result of the foods we consume,” says Dr. Manfredi. So if you’re experiencing recurring fatigue, despite having a bill of good health, here are some top tips to help put that spring back in your step:
Tip 1 – Eat at regular intervals. Eating at set times during the day means your body knows when it’s next dose of energy will be coming, so it learns to manage those hunger pangs and keep your energy levels consistent. Try to eat three meals a day and avoid snacking if you can, especially on foods that are high in fat.
Tip 2 – Ditch the coffee. This may sound counterintuitive, but as a stimulant, caffeine spikes your energy levels only for a short period of time. And when that little burst of caffeine wears off, it often leaves you feeling more tired than you were to begin with. If you crave that coffee flavor in the morning, swap out your regular beans for a decaf option.
Tip 3 – Get more restful sleep. Typically, the body needs at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to function properly. However, if you’re tossing and turning through the night, then you’re not actually getting enough sleep. Here are some helpful suggestions on how you can ensure you get a good night's sleep.
Tip 4 – Don’t skip breakfast. You’ve heard it before, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” When you sleep, your body uses up whatever energy it extracted from the previous night’s meal, so when you wake up in the morning, it’s like you’ve been fasting for 8 hours. It’s literally why it’s called breakfast because you’re breaking the fast. If you’ve ever tried to lift a heavy box or go for a walk when you haven’t eaten anything all day long, you’ll realize why having a bite to eat first thing, is necessary.
Tip 5 – Skip the sugar. Sugar is a thief. It gives you a momentary boost of energy, then steals your stamina from right out under you just as quickly. But cutting out all sugar from your diet is virtually impossible, and is unnecessary. However, replacing processed and refined sugars known as simple sugars, with the naturally occurring complex sugars found in fruits and vegetables, is an excellent way to go.
Tip 6 – Boost your iron. Iron aids in the production of red blood cells and red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the blood. Therefore, a lack of iron equates to a lack of oxygen which in turn means less energy. Iron deficiencies are particularly common in women, as they tend to lose a lot of their iron during their menstrual cycle. To keep your iron levels healthy, ensure you eat a balanced diet rich in iron based foods such as red meats, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals, and whole grains such as brown rice.
Tip 7 – Drink more water. The human body is about 65 percent water, so it’s no surprise that when we are dehydrated, we feel tired and fatigued. An excellent way to test your hydration levels is by pinching the skin on the back of your hands. If the skin takes a while to bounce back into place, then you’re dehydrated. Try adding some hydration salts to a glass of water each morning, and drink it before you eat or drink anything else. Just one glass of water, when your energy levels are low can help boost your hydration levels, and perk you back up.
Tip 8 – Get out into the sun. A moderate amount of sunshine each day can do a wealth good, for our bodies and our minds. UV light produced by the sun is known to help lift mood and in some instances is used for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a type of seasonal depression. Sunlight is also an excellent natural source of vitamin D, which our body needs for healthy bone growth.
Tip 9 – Wear bright colors. According to research attention grabbing colors such as bright oranges, yellows and reds actually stimulate feelings of positivity and activate the parts of the brain responsible for feelings of energy. Orange, in particular, is a good choice as it combines yellow, which reminds us of the sun and red which is a color of passion. Go on, try it!
Tip 10 – Turn off the tech. Studies have shown that looking at your mobile phone, tablet, TV or laptop screen right before bed actually affects your ability to sleep. This is because our bodies are programmed to respond to light as a time for wakefulness not sleep. Before technology existed, we would wake up at sunrise and go to bed at sundown. The period between when the sun disappears behind the horizon and when all the light actually goes is like a calming period that tells our brains it’s time to relax and rest. But when we look at a screen right before bed, the artificial blue light tricks our minds into believing it’s still daytime so we don't get that period in between to shut off. So switch off at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep and perhaps try reading a book instead, under a warm, yellow light.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.