Healthy Living

17 Things You Had No Idea Were Making You Tired

17 Things You Had No Idea Were Making You Tired
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17 Things You Had No Idea Were Making You Tired

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Our levels of energy constantly rise and fall over the course of our lives, and even throughout each day. But continually feeling zapped of energy is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong.

Woman having difficulties getting up in the morning. Horizontal framing, shallow depth of field used, adobeRGB photo.

Usually, this kind of fatigue is caused by lifestyle habits which aren’t always obvious! Here are 17 sneaky energy-draining factors which could be responsible for your exhaustion.

1. A Lack of Sunshine

Exposure to natural light is important to help regulate hormones, including melatonin, the hormone responsible for the body’s internal clock and sleep patterns.

In one study on office workers, it was found that those with windows slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than those workers without windows.

Sunshine is also important for vitamin D synthesis, and the production of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Lack of both vitamin D and serotonin can contribute to low mood and fatigue.

Soaking up the morning sun or midday rays could make all the difference to your energy levels.

2. Dehydration

While it may not provide any energy to the body, water is vital to staying alert, particularly as it facilitates all energy reactions in the body.

Mild dehydration of just 1% negatively impacts mood, energy, attention, and memory. Start your day off with a refreshing glass of lemon water, and continue to sip on water or herbal teas to stay hydrated and alert all day long.

If you engage in strenuous workouts, remember to follow the American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines and drink 17 ounces about two hours before exercise, ensuring you hydrate early and often throughout your routine.

3. Skipping Breakfast

The first meal of the day is literally ‘breaking the fast’ from the night before – providing the first burst of energy to kick-start your metabolism, and power you through the morning. Skipping breakfast means you miss out on these benefits and more.

4. Dietary Choices

It’s not just when you eat that matters, what you eat can make or break your energy stores. If you’re fueling up on refined carbohydrates like white bread, white pasta, and sugary snacks, you’ll send your blood sugar levels soaring.

These levels crash just as quickly as they rise, leaving you feeling exhausted and irritable. Headaches, food cravings, and the risk of illness also accompany blood sugar imbalances.

Stimulants like nicotine and caffeine further wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and interfere with the natural sleep-wake cycle.

A high-fat diet may also leave you exhausted: a 2009 study which tracked the correlation between several nutrients and sleep found that the more fat and meat a woman ate, the more trouble she had sleeping.

Keep things on an even keel by eating a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and sweet potato; lean proteins such as fish, beans and lentils; fiber-rich fruits and vegetables; and healthy sources of fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.

5. Nutrient Deficiencies

Paying closer attention to what you eat also helps you avoid deficiencies in the many vitamins and minerals which are vital for overall health and energy levels.

Suboptimal levels of nutrients are a huge cause of fatigue because they impair cellular energy production.

A deficiency in iron is well-known for causing fatigue, but so too can a lack of magnesium, zinc, B12, folic acid, or other B-vitamins. A high-quality multivitamin and multi-mineral in addition to a well-balanced diet will reduce your risk of becoming deficient in most vitamins and minerals. If you’re concerned, have your nutrient levels tested.

6. Poor Posture

Maintaining correct posture is an often overlooked strategy to minimize chronic tiredness.

Slouching or other types of poor posture cause the spine to lack the support it needs to stay balanced. As a result, the whole body has to work harder to function as it should.

Other signs of poor posture include aching muscles, and back and hip pain.

7. Overwork or Setting Unrealistic Goals

Aside from being impossible, being a perfectionist is exhausting. Perfectionists tend to work longer and harder than they need to, and they can feel less satisfied with their work precisely because perfection is unattainable.

Workaholics will also suffer a sense of burnout, as they never truly unwind and relax.

For both these personality types, learning how to set boundaries and limits, and how to enjoy a healthy work-life balance is crucial to regaining energy and vitality.

8. Clutter

There’s no doubt that our surroundings influence our mood, which in turn impacts our energy levels. But did you know that simply reducing the clutter in your home, and particularly on your office desk, may help to reduce tiredness?

A Princeton University Neuroscience Institute study found that a messy, disorganized environment negatively impacts productivity, causes you to expend mental energy and focus, and increases stress and exhaustion.

9. Lack of Exercise

Working out most days isn’t just important for a healthy heart, it helps us stay alert and focused. Exercise boosts circulation and increases the flow of oxygen through the body.

What’s more, the National Sleep Foundation claims that exercise significantly improves the sleep of insomnia sufferers.

Get moving with a cardio-intensive kettlebell routine, or spend 15 minutes every day doing some squats and planks.

10. Too Much Exercise

When it comes to exercise, some people fall into the trap of thinking that if some is good, more must be better. But this is definitely not the case!

Over-exercising – whether engaging in sessions that are too long, too intense, or too frequent – can leave you feeling burned out, tired, and lacking motivation. Other signs of over-exercising include feeling irritable and moody, insomnia or sleeping too much, difficulty bouncing back from a workout, and recurrent illness.

11. Food Intolerance

A feeling of constant tiredness, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, or a complete lack of energy during the day can indicate a food sensitivity.

Undiagnosed intolerances to gluten, corn, dairy, soy, alcohol and more can place a constant and hidden stress on the adrenal glands, which can lead to adrenal burnout.

One of the best ways to uncover a food sensitivity is through an elimination diet. Once you have identified your trigger foods, you can take steps to remove them and allow your body to heal itself, thus restoring energy levels.

12. Hidden Stressors

You may not think that your daily commute, the construction noise outside your office window, or the white lie you told your partner are contributing to your exhaustion, but they are.

These types of hidden stressors can cause pulse rate and blood pressure to rise, and levels of adrenaline to increase. This added strain on the nervous system depletes both your energy and nutrient stores.

Taking the time to consider all sources of stress, and ensuring you’re meeting your nutrient needs, can help to create better balance.

13. Irregular Sleeping Patterns

Obviously, a lack of sleep can cause tiredness, but even if you get your eight hours a night you may feel fatigued if you don’t have a set bedtime.

Our body clocks need consistency, and our ability to fall asleep and wake up depends on having the same schedule every night – even on weekends!

When researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at sleeping patterns, they found that even those who get enough sleep are likely to be irritable or downbeat if they wake up at a time other than what they’re used to.

14. Your Breathing Habits

Most people take quite shallow breaths, which cause them to inhale lower than optimal levels of oxygen. This can be a response to stress, or simply an acquired manner of breathing.

In addition to being exhausted, if you feel depressed, anxious, tense or achy, and have difficulty sleeping or concentrating, then practicing deep and slow breathing several times a day could see your symptoms improve.

15. A Pre-Bed Drink or Two

Having a nightcap is thought to encourage a restful night’s slumber, but years of research shows the exact opposite is true.

Even though alcohol helps us fall asleep quicker and enjoy a deep sleep for a while, a review of 27 studies says that alcohol consumption reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the truly deep restorative sleep that our bodies need to function properly.

Other studies show alcohol causes or exacerbates a sleep disorder called sleep apnea and decreases levels of melatonin in the body.

16. Your Smartphone Addiction


Using smartphones, tablets, and laptops in bed may be detrimental to sleep and overall health.

According to a 2015 study, the amount of caffeine in a double espresso has less of an effect on sleep schedule than bright light exposure at night!

Smartphone use has also been linked to increased stress levels, poor posture, anxiety, depression, lack of exercise, and weight gain – all factors which can contribute to tiredness.

17. Undiagnosed Illness

Fatigue is one of the most common side-effects of any kind of illness, as the body conserves its energy to fight infection and heal itself. If you’re struggling with long-term tiredness, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Some of the most common conditions linked to fatigue include thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, sleep apnea, autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalance, and depression.


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