Worn out. Exhausted. Drained. Beat. No matter how you describe it, we’ve all felt that sluggish feeling before. Although it can be tempting to reach for an energy drink or head back to bed for a long nap, there are healthier ways to fight fatigue.
“There are usually underlying health issues for why we’re feeling tired, whether it’s because we didn’t get enough sleep the night before or we didn’t eat a big breakfast,” explains Kathleen Boyle, DO, family medicine physician at Lankenau Medical Center. “The first step in helping reverse that fatigue is figuring out what the cause is.”
Below, Dr. Boyle outlines some of the most common reasons we feel tired, and how to help fight them, no matter what task you’re tackling next.
You’re not moving enough
When you’re tired, moving is the last thing you want to do. But physical activity can actually boost your energy levels. Force yourself to go for a quick walk, hit the gym, or even just climb the stairs to your next meeting instead of taking the elevator. Moving will increase the efficiency of your heart, lungs and muscles, which will give you more energy for your day.
You need more water
Energy drinks and sodas seem like the magic answer when you’re tired, but all these drinks will do is provide you with a temporary sugar rush. When you come down from it, you’ll be no better than you were before. Instead, drink water. Not only will it help you wake up, but it can also prevent dehydration, which can decrease alertness and concentration. If you need a little flavor, add fresh fruit to your water.
Still drinking water but it’s not doing the trick? Try splashing cold water on your wrists or face for a little wake-up call.
You didn’t eat breakfast
Skipping breakfast? Not so fast. Breakfast helps keep you alert, starts your metabolism for the day, and keeps you full until lunch. For a healthy breakfast that will help keep you awake all day, try a whole-grain bagel, fruit and cereal, or oatmeal.
You skimped on sleep
Most people are willing to sacrifice sleep at night to check more off of their to-do list, but you’ll be paying for it the next day. Make sure you’re not cheating yourself out of sleep, and aim to get between seven to eight hours a night to feel fully rested the next day. If you find yourself absolutely needing a nap, take one, but make sure it doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes. Naps that are too long can affect your quality of sleep that night.
It seems like the answer to many health problems is to eat less, but that’s not the case with sleep. Eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar level steady, which can reduce the chances of feeling tired later in the day. Try our suggestions for snacks that can prevent an afternoon slump.
You need to make an appointment
If feelings of fatigue persist, it might be time to visit the doctor. Conditions like anemia, arthritis, diabetes and sleep disorders have all been linked to ongoing fatigue.