I think tired has a different meaning depending on who you are talking to. It could mean someone feels sleepy, or lazy, lacking ambition, or physically exhausted. Whatever the case may be, I think everyone would agree it feels like the inner spark of life has dimmed.
There are some very common, and some not so common, the reasons people feel this way. I will begin with the most common cause…
Every living creature sleeps, naps, or goes into a resting state; even cuttlefish sleep and dream!1
What changes from the time we are babies, being able to fall asleep anytime, anywhere at the drop of a hat to adulthood? Sleep is not so simple for many people. Many people suffer from not being able to fall asleep, or they may have trouble staying asleep. It is not just about the eight hours of sleep; it is about getting quality sleep as well. It gets even more challenging to get quality sleep as we get older since as we age, our slow sleep waves decrease. Which unfortunately also contributes to memory loss.2
We all have a biological clock, yet we seem to think we can keep pushing through without sleep as humans. Hence the saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Well, that may come sooner rather than later for someone that lives by that motto! Our biological clock controls many bodily functions, including our sleep and wake cycles. This clock repeats every 24 hours. This cycle is referred to as our circadian rhythm.3
We are in Rhythm with the Universe
So it is vital to get exposure to sunshine and gaze at the moon and stars at night!
Light and dark cycles, sunrise, and sunset affect our levels of Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by our pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep, wake cycles.4 We have more Melatonin as the light dims, hence why computers, cells, phone, and television disrupt Melatonin’s production.
Avoid Blue Light in the Evening
Blue light suppresses Melatonin and disrupts our circadian rhythms.5 You could look into purchasing blue light glasses for the evening when watching television or looking at your phone or computer. However, it is best to put any electronics, so it does not stimulate our brain, causing us to be more alert.
All the Right Conditions for Sleep
Research from the sleep foundations has found that 65 degrees are optimal for sleep. Having a dark and free room from electronics and being quiet all set the stage for a rest full sleep. As the sun goes down, it is helpful to dim the lights. You can purchase red or pink bulbs in the lamps that will be more conducive to sleep.6
There are a few things we can easily follow to aid in getting a good night’s sleep. It just takes some awareness and forming good habits.
Careful of Caffeine
According to the National coffee association, 64% of Americans drink coffee every day! So how do we continue to enjoy our coffee and still get a good night’s sleep? Well, it comes down to making sure you are not interfering with Adenosine! Adenosine is a sleep molecule located in the central nervous system. It is what makes us feel sleepy. Caffeine blocks the Adenosine receptors. Eventually, the caffeine will unbind from the receptors.7 It can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to eliminate half the amount of caffeine from your body. So be sure not to drink caffeine past 2:00!8
Alcohol after dinner may relax you, but it will not benefit you when getting quality sleep. Although you may feel tired after a few drinks and fall asleep quickly, it is studied that sleep is more disruptive, therefore leaving you feeling tired the next day.9
Studies indicate that not drinking enough water affects our energy levels, both mentally and physically. It does not take much for these effects to occur; just a 2% loss of water can affect our physical endurance and make us feel more fatigued. Mild dehydration of only 1 – 3% can affect brain function!10
Steer Clear of Sugar
Watching out for sugar spikes will help you avoid the rollercoaster of energy highs and lows. Pasta, bread, rice, and any foods with added sugar will cause blood sugar spikes, followed by a crash. You will find you do not have the energy you need to sustain your day!11
Snack vs. Exercise
A study was done that showed after having a snack that gave people the initial sugar spike of energy, an hour later, they felt an increase in tiredness and had reduced energy. This study was done in comparison to how these same people felt after just a 10-minute walk. The walk made these same volunteers feel more energized, and they felt a reduction in tension.12
Exercise will also energize your brain! This will cause a range of neurochemicals that stimulate the growth of new brain cells!13
Food for Energy
Choose a diet that contains whole, healthy foods. Like fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, it includes quality sources of healthy fats, carbs, and fiber.14
Getting to Know the Powerhouses of Your Body
It is highly essential to fuel the only vehicle we will ever have, our body. After all, it takes us everywhere we want to go, to accomplish everything we dream of, and to have the energy to live. This requires understanding the powerhouses, mitochondria within our cells that determine being able to sustain life energy.
In every cell, we have hundreds to thousands of mitochondria, these ancient, single-cell organisms that take the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe and turn it into ATP, life energy.
Supporting our Mitochondria
What damages are our mitochondria making us feel burned out? Toxins, infections, allergens, stress, and processed food. When Mitochondria are damaged, we can feel fatigued, have low energy and memory loss.15
Mitochondria help enzymes turn nutrients into energy. It is essential to give our mitochondria plenty of phytonutrients and antioxidants. That means plenty of organic vegetables and healthy fat like avocado, nuts and seeds, and cruciferous vegetables.16
Shortening the hours you eat, for example, staying within an 8-hour window, will boost mitochondrial function by reducing mitochondrial free radical production.17
Mitochondrial production can be increased by exposure to cold. Whether you go outside in the cold, jump in a cold ocean or lake, or at the very least turn your shower on cold for the last 30 seconds. This kills off the weak Mitochondria and encourages the growth of new healthy Mitochondria.18
The brain tissue is highly dependent on mitochondria. Quality sleep is crucial to clearing out waste in the brain which supports our mitochondria.19
Now, we have come full circle back to where we started on sleep… It is the best place to start!