Common Causes of Tiredness
If you’re reading this then waking up in the morning is a major daily struggle. Battling it out with your duvet, dragging your feet through to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee… your morning seems like one big yawn, yet hours after waking you still feel like the living dead! Tiredness and fatigue is a major problem for an extremely large proportion of the population, and with the constant demands of work commitments, childcare, and an endless lists of chores and to do lists… who can blame us?!
For us fitness enthusiast’s tiredness and fatigue can become a major barrier to reaching our goals, compromising our training and workout efficiency. Here at Myprotein, we don’t just provide you with the top sports supplements, but also with the top knowledge and advice you need to fuel your ambition.
There are many daily health concepts that can cause feelings of tiredness and fatigue, but not to worry… in this article we are not only going to tell you some of the major reasons why you might be feeling tired, but also several ways you can combat fatigue and become re-energised.
Lack of Sleep
So a lack of sleep may seem like the most obvious reason for why your feeling tired, whereby most people struggle to get the recommended 8 hours. For example, in a study by Baldwin and Daugherty, 3,604 people were asked to record the number of hours they slept, their work hours, performance and tiredness. The average recorded sleeping hours varied across study participants whereby just over 20% of all residents reported sleeping an average of 5 hours or less per night, with 66% averaging 6 hours or less per night. Within the sample individuals averaging 5 or fewer hours of sleep per night were found more likely to report working in an “impaired condition,” having serious accidents and injuries, conflict with other professional staff, use of alcohol, use of medications to stay awake, and having made significant errors.
Not only this, but in another study involving 58, 115 individuals, 18,828 people were found to suffer from fatigue and disturbed sleep, whereby significant predictors included being female, aged above over 49 years, hectic working lifestyle, taking part in physically strenuous work, and shift work.
Therefore, it can be concluded that if you’re not getting enough sleep or suffering from sleep interference, you may be feeling signs of chronic fatigue, whereby your work performance and ability to function in day to day life maybe seriously compromised.
In reality there is a wide inter-person variation when it comes to sleep, whereby some individuals can require as little as 5 hours, whereas others need up to 10 hours. Insomnia is a condition that has increased dramatically in the UK, whereby more and more people are struggling to get and stay asleep for a long enough period of time to feel refreshed the next morning. A major cause of insomnia amongst suffers is anxiety, whereby financial, working worries or the breaking of bad news can leave you struggling to sleep, resulting in persistent low energy levels and fatigue.
If you’ve been stressed anxious or depressed recently, this could be one reason why you may have had to skip a few gym sessions. Believe it or not, we don’t have to be ridiculously physically active to use energy, and a lot of energy consumption actually comes from concentration and constant thinking. That’s why in cases such as depression and anxiety we can become physically exhausted, resulting in several physical symptoms including fatigue, headaches and a loss of appetite, which can often leave you feeling tired and irritable.
A major factor that can affect your sleep behaviour and your energy levels through the day is the quality of your diet. For example, several epidemiological scientific studies have demonstrated a correlation between a poor quality diet and sleep patterns, whereby those who sleep less are more likely to consume energy-rich foods high in sugar and fat. This is thought to be due to the neurological mechanism in the body and popular nutrition theory, whereby sugar and fat ingestion may increase tension in the body and the tendency to sleep. Not only this, but diets low in magnesium, tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin have also been associated with a reduction of sleeping hours. For magnesium in particular, an animal study by Depoortere et al. (1993) demonstrated after a 9 week intervention of a magnesium deficient diet subjects suffered from an increase in wakefulness, more disorganized and light sleep.
An Underactive Thyroid
What actually is your thyroid? Your thyroid is a small gland situated in your neck that can produce hormones to control your energy metabolism, the conversion of food to energy. An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is a health condition that can develop after birth whereby hormone release and thyroid function becomes too slow. An underactive thyroid is significantly associated to over training and increased levels of low energy, which can result in chronic fatigue and weight gain. An underactive thyroid can be detected by a quick blood test, whereby suitable medication can help bring your energy levels back to normal. Apart from tiredness other symptoms of an underactive thyroid include weight changes, a hoarse voice, lethargy, and hair loss.
Anaemia is common health condition that is primarily caused by a lack of Iron and is one of the top causes of feeling constantly run-down. Today the intakes of iron, especially among women are below the recommended daily amount, whereby iron is fundamental for the formation of red blood cells. Within red blood cells, an iron complex called haemoglobin binds to oxygen, transporting it to muscles in need. However, in the case of iron deficiency, there is a drop in red blood cells meaning the body cannot receive the optimum level of oxygen required for efficient functioning. It is suggested that this lack of oxygen can cause abnormalities in energy metabolism and as a result play a role in inducing fatigue.
Tiredness and fatigue can be highly determined by blood sugar levels in the body. For example, diets high in sugar are often associated to low energy levels. When you have diabetes, your body has an inability to regulate and produce insulin; as a result sugar remains in the blood, instead of being transported to cells for energy. Consequently, despite consume enough food in the diet, our muscles can lack energy and become fatigued resulting persistent fatigue and tiredness. Diabetes can be diagnosed by a simple blood test and treated with several different medications, including changes in the diet and insulin therapy.
Yes, you read right… food intolerance. Food intolerance has actually been shown to increase levels of fatigue, for example, in the case of a gluten intolerance; metabolic reactions to gluten can cause diarrhoea, anaemia and tiredness. To recognise a food intolerance can be difficult and is often done using an elimination diet that cuts out certain trigger foods.
How to get Energised
Get More Sleep
So we’ve already established that a lack of sleep can be a major cause of why you feel tired all the time, but often information overload and stress can prevent the ability to get a good night sleep. Therefore, in order to catch up on some z’s try having a power nap. You may have heard bad things about power naps, however, studies have actually shown that up to a 60 minute power nap can help distress your brain and also improve memory.
Other things you could do in order to improve your night time sleeping is to eliminate the use of electronic devices in bed. Develop a suitable environment to sleep in by moving your phone away from you pillow and leaving the television and laptop in the living room. This is because, electronic devices being used in bed and before sleep have been shown to increase the likelihood of insomnia and decrease the ability to have an undisturbed sleep. Another top tip is to try and stay cool at night, keeping a cool environment can help increase the ability to sleep whereby studies have shown that high body temperatures have been associated to bouts of insomnia. Also beware of training to late at night, we all love a good cup of coffee or some pre workout to boost our energy, but try and keep caffeine consumption on the lower side after 7pm as this may affect your ability to get a strong sleep. In order to get you ready for bed you could try some of our Bedtime Extreme or a hot cup of protein hot chocolate.
Change Your Diet
Becoming energised will take more than just a good night sleep; you need to ensure you are constantly supplying your body with enough fuel. So before you make the excuse “I haven’t got time”, make time! You can’t expect to have gleaming amounts of energy if you don’t consume enough calories.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
The first top diet tip to restore energy levels, is to try and keep the calorie contents of your meals under 500 kcals. This does not mean starving, but it means eating smaller meals more often. This is because the consumption of large bulky meals requires a longer period of time to be digested which often strips energy from the body. Not only this, but regular small meals can help keep a balanced blood sugar level, maintaining a constant energy supply.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
I personally recommend is do not skip breakfast! The key to breakfast is in the name… your breaking the overnight fast. Upon waking up your body will have been through a period of starvation whereby cortosil levels are high and glucose levels at their lowest. Studies have shown that having breakfast can not only increase energy levels throughout the day but they also lead to greater happiness both physically and mentally. You could even opt for eggs, boiled, scrambled, and poached! Of all foods, eggs have been shown to be a good provider of energy-boosting protein, whereby eating protein at breakfast and other meals in the day is an essential for fighting off fatigue. If you don’t have time for breakfast, why not try out breakfast protein smoothie or protein porridge.
Fight Back with Fibre and Whole Grains
Fight back with some fibre and whole grains. Staying away from excess sugary carbs is important when trying to revitalise your energy levels but some studies have shown that diets high in complex carbs and fibre can reduce fatigue. Not only this, but fibre has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and lead to a greater regulation of blood sugar levels. However, make sure the foods you eat are whole grain, because refined and processed products such as white bread and pasta can spike blood sugar providing only a short term supply of energy. One food you can go all out with however is veg! Vegetables contain a series of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals that can contribute to good health and wellbeing and have also been shown to be associated to a lower risk of chronic disease. So to stock up on some feel good energy, fill up a large portion of your plate with a variety of colourful vegetables.
Don’t Forget the Fish!
Grab that fishing rod and start eating more fish! It is recommended by the Department of Health that we should consume at least one portion of oily fish per week; this means salmon, fresh tuna, sardines and mackerel. Studies have shown that the omega 3 oils present in fatty fish can not only benefit your cardiovascular health but can also help reduce depression and increase happiness and energy levels! If you’re not too keen on seafood and fish, the Myprotein omega-3 supplement can help you get your daily intake, for example our Super omega- 3 oil or you could even try snacking on some walnuts and flax seed.
For a quick energy fix, throw away the energy drinks and the sugary snacks and chow down on some berries. Berries contain phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins, this way they can provide you with good feeling antioxidants whilst providing you with a source of good sugars. You could also go a bit nuts! Not literally, but a selection of nuts including almonds and brazil nuts are energy dense and are high in magnesium, fibre and protein, so are a perfect snack sure to boost your energy levels. Other handy snacks that can keep your energy tanked filled, you can find in our protein shortcut range, including delicious protein cookies, chox bars and muffins.
Get more Vitamins and Minerals!
Eating a balanced diet should ensure your fair share of vitamin and minerals, but if you’re still feeling the daily strain you may not be getting enough of the specific vitamins and minerals needed within energy metabolism. For example, Magnesium is a mineral that is required for hundreds of metabolic reactions in the body, including the breakdown of glucose to energy, whereby scientific studies have shown individuals with magnesium deficiencies have an increase rate of fatigue and actually have to work harder and require more oxygen to perform daily tasks. There are several sources of magnesium; nuts are especially rich, in addition to whole grains and certain fish. If you struggle to consume magnesium sources we’ve got you covered with our Magnesium capsules.
In terms of vitamin, one vitamin that many people don’t think about is vitamin D. Vitamin D helps keep energy levels peaked, whereby the main source of our vitamin D doesn’t come from the diet but actually from sunlight! Therefore, if your inside a lot and don’t have time so soak up some sun it’s a good idea to get a Myprotein vitamin D supplement.! Other vitamins which are strongly related to energy metabolism are the vitamin B complexes. There are 8 vitamin B complexes believe it or not! Therefore to get a vital intake of all 8 our vitamin B Super complex is a must have to reduce tiredness and fatigue!
Hopefully you’re already pretty active. But as long as you’re not overtraining, exercise has several benefits when it comes to getting re- energised. Any exercise is beneficial but if you challenge your body and push yourself you can increase your metabolism and increase the fat burning process in the body! So quit telling yourself you’re too tired and check out some high intensity interval training workouts, oxygenating your blood cells will help restore your empty fuel tank and the effects can be felt for hours after!
Reduce Stress and Stay Hydrated
Stress and anxiety are two major energy drainers; although you may not be running a marathon the mental energy required can leave you exhausted! So to increase your energy levels try taking so time to relax. Everyday plan a fun or relaxing activity during periods of high stress.
It is also important to stay hydrated, drinking water can actually reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue that are often cause by dehydration. All day your body will be craving fluids, especially if you’re physically active so make sure you’ve always got a bottle of water at hand. It may also be worth mentioning alcohol when talking about hydration. Some of us enjoy and occasional drink, and others more regularly, but alcohol not only leaves you dehydrated, but it also interferes with your ability to sleep, so although you might get to sleep that little bit faster, the quality of sleep is poor and will leave you feeling drained and tired the next day.
There are many reasons why you could be feeling drained all the time, from overtraining, not eating right and not getting enough Z’s, to medical conditions. Most of the time, people tend to over react and assume the worst, but many of the most common causes of tiredness and fatigue are down to lifestyle, which can fixed by improving your sleeping patterns and diet.
Afaghi, A., O’Connor, H., & Chow, C. M. (2008). Acute effects of the very low carbohydrate diet on sleep indices. Nutritional neuroscience, 11(4), 146-154.
Åkerstedt, T., Fredlund, P., Gillberg, M., & Jansson, B. (2002). Work load and work hours in relation to disturbed sleep and fatigue in a large representative sample. Journal of psychosomatic research, 53(1), 585-588.
Baldwin Jr, D. C., & Daugherty, S. R. (2004). Sleep deprivation and fatigue in residency training: results of a national survey of first-and second-year residents. Sleep, 27(2), 217-223.
Depoortere, H., Francon, D., & Llopis, J. (1993). Effects of a Magnesium Deficient Diet on Sleep Organization in Rats. Neuropsychobiology, 27(4), 237-245.
Thayer, R. E. (1987). Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(1), 119.
Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.