Worn out. Exhausted. Drained. Beat.
No matter how we describe it, we’ve all experienced that sluggish feeling. While it can be tempting to reach for an energy drink or head back to bed for a nice nap, there are healthier ways to fight fatigue.
“When we’re feeling tired, it may be because we didn’t get enough sleep the night before or we didn’t eat a good breakfast that morning,” explains Rochelle Goldberg, MD, director of sleep medicine services at Main Line Health. “The first step in helping to reverse fatigue is identifying the cause.”
Following are five of the most common reasons we experience fatigue and how to fight it.
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.
“Go for a quick walk, hit the gym, or even just climb the stairs to your next meeting instead of taking the elevator,” urges Dr. Goldberg. “Moving increases 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 these drinks will only give you a temporary sugar rush. As soon as you come down from that rush, you’ll feel just as tired as before. Instead, drink water.
“Not only does water wake you up, it can also prevent dehydration, which can decrease your alertness and concentration,” says Dr. Goldberg. “If you need a little flavor, add fresh fruit to your water.
If you’re drinking plenty of water and it’s not doing the trick, try splashing cold water on your wrists or your face for a little wake-up call.
You didn’t eat breakfast
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, try a whole grain bagel, fruit and cereal, or oatmeal.
You skimped on sleep
Most people are willing to sacrifice sleep at night to complete more items on their to-do list, but you’ll pay for it the next day. Make sure you’re not cheating yourself out of the sleep you need.
“To feel fully rested the next day, aim for between seven and eight hours of sleep each night,” says Dr. Goldberg. “If you find yourself absolutely needing a nap, take one, but make sure it doesn’t last longer than 30 minutes and be careful about the time of day. Naps that are too long or later in the day 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 necessarily the case when it comes to daytime energy. Eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar level steady, which can reduce your chances of feeling tired later in the day.
“If your feelings of fatigue persist, it’s time to visit the doctor,” says Dr. Goldberg. “Ongoing fatigue has been linked to numerous medical conditions including anemia, arthritis, diabetes and sleep disorders. Your physician can determine if there is an underlying health issue causing your fatigue and take the proper steps to address it.”
Still can't shake that sleepy feeling? Fortunately, this isn’t an issue you have to take lying down—our board-certified sleep medicine specialists located throughout the Philadelphia region are here to help. Our team will diagnose and treat your sleep disorder so that you can get back to sleeping soundly and waking up refreshed. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.