By Mia Abrahams
I don’t know if it’s daylight savings or the end of a looooong winter (is winter ever not long tho?) but I feel like the answer to every “how are you?” these days is always, “fine, but tired” or “sorry just saw this, I’m so tired my brain switched off” or “😴 😴 😴 ”.
Sleep is important (duh) and in an ideal world where we have time to pre-make our chia puddings in mason jars, do sunrise yoga, and have abs like Gwyneth Paltrow (okay yes, I have a GOOP obsession, we can talk about it later), we would also be getting eight hours of uninterrupted, Disney princess-style slumber. However, when your reality is bodega bagels for breakfast and running for the train as cardio, those eight restful hours might be a little more difficult to come by.
So, what are the culprits behind your tiredness?
Well, it could be a bunch of things. Stress at work or in your personal life can be a biggie. When you are stressed about an upcoming presentation or a family member’s illness, your body goes into overdrive, producing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol keeps us energized, which is great for being chased by a tiger (fight or flight mode), but not so great when you’re having a stressful *month*. Raised cortisol levels mean our bodies don’t get the opportunity to recharge, and so we never quite feel rested.
It may also be worth taking a look at your routines to see if there are little things holding you back from becoming the Mayor of Snooze Town. Are you drinking coffee at 4pm? Watching Netflix on your laptop in bed while DMing memes to ur bff? Skipping workouts and eating a muffin at 3pm because you’re energy is lagging? (And dw, I am answering a strong “yes” to all these questions too).
Well I wish that my advice was like the stuff you see in those articles titled “Try This One Weird Trick and Sleep Well Forever,” but unfortunately, the way to combat exhaustion is not as simple as some Amazonian berry juice dribbled lightly over your temples or something. Folks, it’s all the stuff you *know* you should be doing already.
Drink water, eat healthy, try and make sure your meals include protein, healthy carbs, and aren’t coming from a plastic bag you can *pop* open. Don’t skip your workouts. A 2006 study from the University of Georgia found that light exercise actually reduced feelings of fatigue by as much as 65% (and boosted energy levels by 20%). If getting up for a 5:45am boot camp has got you thinking “HELL NO”, then try a low-key yoga, pilates, or barre class. You’ll feel better after, promise.
Also, I know I just made fun of premade chia puddings a whooping five paragraphs ago, but actually, spending a little bit of time planning out snacks and breakfasts on a Sunday night means you are less likely to reach for vending machine junk in a pinch. Sugary, processed foods strip your body of the things it needs to support healthy adrenal function.
Repeat after me: Bed = sleep & sex. This can be tough, especially in a shared living situation where sometimes your bed is the only place you’ve got for privacy to work / watch the Gilmore Girls without your housemates distracting you. But limit your bedroom habits to sleep and sleep-adjacent activities (and screen-free as much as possible) and you might find yourself sleeping longer, harder, better.
If you are feeling really exhausted, and the ordinary healthy livin’ stuff just ain’t working, it’s worth checking in with your doctor. You could be deficient in essential minerals like iron or magnesium, or there might be something else going on that is affecting your energy levels, like heavy periods, thyroid problems or anemia.