Tired of being tired?
You’re not alone - it’s a recognised issue and it’s called TATT Syndrome (Tired All The Time)…Life is getting faster! We are expected to be instantly contactable by friends, family and work. We are spending more time with our technology rather than getting fresh air, sunlight and exercise. We’re staying up at night binge-watching box-sets or interacting on social media. Caffeine is consumed throughout the day to counteract our tiredness which in turn affects our ability to sleep so we stay awake, usually with our technology. It’s a feedback loop!
Another reason is that most people are deficient in both Magnesium AND Vitamin D (nothing a good quality supplement can’t resolve). Magnesium is essential for extracting energy from food and regulating our nervous system. Low levels cause fatigue. Vitamin D is great for our energy levels, alertness and mental health and we produce it when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
Teenagers are the most affected
It would appear that teenagers are suffering the most. The rapid development of the brain and body during adolescence takes a vast amount of energy which demands a lot of sleep - over 9 hours in fact. This has been the case throughout history but it’s only been in the last few years that the average teenager insists on sleeping with a communication device that’s linked to the whole World. Not only are they constantly disturbed by alerts and notifications but their, already stressed brain, is being feed a constant stream of blue light which directly affect the production of the sleep hormone Melatonin. This is devastating for their natural sleep wake cycle…not a great combination of events considering the stress of taking exams and making important decisions about the future.
You can have a “great night’s sleep” and STILL wake up exhausted.
If you don’t jump out of bed feeling fantastic then it wasn’t a great night’s sleep. The thing is, being asleep and being awake are not separate entities. They are part of the same cycle and they should complement each other. The main thing to realize is that, having a large quantity of sleep is not the same as have a good quality sleep. If you go to bed early, wake up late and have 10 hours sleep rather than your usual 7 you might feel like you’ve had a fantastic sleep but you’ve actually pushed yourself out of sync with your natural sleep/wake cycle.
People are experiencing even greater feelings of tiredness during the COVID pandemic.
We are governed by 24 hour sleep/wake cycles known as Circadian rhythms. In order to stay in sync with these natural rhythms we need structure. During normal life most people get up, travel to work, spend time with their colleagues for 8 hours, travel home, have dinner then wind down for bed. They then go to bed at a reasonable time in order to do it all again the next day. It might seem mundane but it’s a structured pattern and our brains love those. Replace the structure with social distancing, social restrictions, lockdowns and working from home and it throws the cycles into chaos. This results in uncertainty which equals a constant flux of stress or ‘fight or flight’. This uses A LOT of energy which is very tiring!
My top tips for beating TATT.
Try my tips for a few weeks, they work! If however, you don’t feel better then it could be an indication of an underlying health issue and you’ll need to see your Doctor.
Everything is about balance and this is especially important regarding our Circadian rhythms. When we fall out of sync with these we experience a bad night which obviously results in a bad day. We need to make sleep/wake as distinct and separate as possible. Do the following for a week and notice the difference in your energy levels…
· In the evening, an hour before bed, have a hot bath or shower. When we fall asleep our body temperature lowers, if we artificially raise it, when it drops we fall asleep.
· If you are serious about your sleep then you need to dump the tech an hour before bed and make your bedroom a tech-free zone. When things get dark our brains start producing Melatonin, if we are showing it light from our devices it just can’t do its job properly.
· To take things a stage further we need to make our bedrooms as dark as possible. Blackout blinds are great but good quality eye masks are just as good. They need to be the raised, molded type or ‘Eyelash friendly’.
· No matter what your plans are, set an alarm to get up in the morning. Don’t press the snooze button. Go over to the window and get as much light into your eyes as possible, this immediately stops our brains producing the sleep hormone Melatonin.
· Make your bed, shower and get dressed even if you’re working from home. This subconsciously sets your intentions for a productive day.
Diet and exercise.
It’s usually the last thing anyone wants to hear when they are tired but exercise is one of the best things for beating fatigue. As I mention in my book ‘Sleep Ninja’ I don’t think there is anything better and more accessible than street running. It involves fresh air, exercise and natural light, it doesn’t cost anything and you can do it quietly, by yourself at anytime and at your own pace – you can jog, walk/run or sprint. What’s not to love?
As for diet, well I’ve already mentioned Magnesium and Vitamin D but another essential item for combating fatigue is Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that we convert into Serotonin. This is a mood stabilizer which gives us energy during the day. Then, when the light goes down, we convert it into the sleep hormone Melatonin which gives us a great night sleep. Great sources of Tryptophan are nuts, seed, turkey, milk and cheese. The other advice is to replace sugar with natural honey and NEVER allow yourself to get dehydrated.
I’ve helped people all over the world improve their sleep and if you do nothing else but pop a Vitamin D and Magnesium supplement followed by snaking on unsalted nuts throughout the day (allergies permitting) I promise you will notice a massive improvement in your overall mental alertness, blanket energy levels and happiness!
photos in order of appearance