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If you’re struggling to get through the day without frequent yawns and a strong desire to close your eyes, you’re not alone. Tiredness is something that 45 percent of Americans experience up to three times a week, despite getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This can become a real problem when sleepiness starts to interfere with your ability to get through the day.
When you’re sleeping just fine at night yet can’t fight off the sluggishness or sleepiness throughout the day, your nighttime shut-eye might not be the problem. There are many reasons why you might be craving an afternoon snooze during the day. Here are seven potential causes you should be aware of – and luckily, they’re easy to fix.
1. You have a vitamin deficiency
It should come as no surprise that vitamin levels help power you through the day. And if you’re deficient in iron, there’s a good chance that’s why you’re feeling tired. Harvard Health says fatigue is often the first symptom of anemia which occurs when there aren’t enough red blood cells, or these cells lack enough hemoglobin.
Another potential cause of anemia is a lack of B12, which is responsible for producing red blood cells. If fatigue is something you’re experiencing on a regular basis, then it might be worth getting your vitamin levels tested to see if this is the trigger.
2. You’re eating too much sugar
Sugar is associated with giving you a rush of energy, but what’s inevitable after consuming high levels of sugar? A sugar crash. You may feel a sharp drop in energy about 30 minutes after eating something sweet. This is often due to a quick drop in blood sugar levels as the body makes insulin.
Instead of relying on sugar to fuel you throughout your day, cut back to avoid crashes. Consider opting for a low- or no-sugar breakfast to start your day; then, keep your lunch and snacks low in sugar too. This should help get you through the work day without wanting to take a nap.
If a sweet craving strikes, you can also try one of these sweet-but-low-sugar treats that are so good, they’re RD-recommended.
3. You’re staring at screens for too long
From scrolling through social media to binge-watching Netflix to spending eight hours a day at work on the computer, excessive screen time is hard to avoid. But all of that bright blue light can lead to a condition called eyestrain, which makes your eyes tired – and it could explain why you’re struggling to keep your eyes open at times.
While the best solution overall is to limit your screen time, that’s not always possible. So, instead of stopping work halfway through the day, try incorporating little eye breaks while you’re staring at various screens.
The Mayo Clinic says it’s common for us to blink often when working at a computer. So, you can try blinking as often as possible to avoid dry eyes. You can also try following the 20-20-20 rule to combat tired eyes. Look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes.
4. You aren’t getting enough exercise
There’s a long list of reasons why exercise is beneficial for the human body, and combatting tiredness is one of them. To put it simply, our energy supply is increased when the body produces mitochondria inside our muscle cells. What helps to produce more mitochondria? Exercise.
And according to Harvard Health, another way exercise gives us energy is by boosting oxygen circulation. This not only helps the body use energy more efficiently, but it also increases hormone levels that make you feel more energized. Consider going for an afternoon walk to give your body the boost it needs to get through the rest of your day.
5. You’re not drinking enough water
It’s reported that a whopping 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. And since your body needs water to perform just about every one of its essential jobs, from regulating your temperature to keeping your joints lubricated to giving cells nutrients, failing to meet your hydration needs can sap your energy. Lower energy levels, fatigue during exercise and decreased ability to concentrate are just some of the many symptoms dehydration can lead to.
Dehydration occurs when you’re not supplying your body with enough liquid to replace the water you lose during the day. Water can be lost through urine, stool, sweat and even the simple task of breathing. And you need anywhere from 11.5 to 15.5 cups of water per day to stay well-hydrated.
So, try drinking some water if you’re feeling tired. Better yet, keep a water bottle on you at all times and refill as needed. You may notice the tiredness and other related symptoms of mild dehydration subside in as quickly as five to 10 minutes.
6. You’re drinking too much coffee
Coffee is often the drink of choice for anyone who’s in need of a pick-me-up. But surprisingly, this popular caffeinated beverage can sometimes do more harm for your energy levels than good. That’s because caffeine is considered a diuretic – which means it makes you urinate more often.
Frequent urination can lead to dehydration, one of the causes of tiredness discussed above. And if you’re drinking more coffee than water, your body isn’t being replenished with the proper hydration it needs. This cycle of dehydration could be what makes you feel tired throughout the day.
Oh, and there’s another reason why your coffee is making you tired: The amount of sugar you stir into it is causing your energy to crash. Again, too much sugar can lead to a drop in energy levels.
7. You have an underlying health condition
While there are many possible reasons why you’re feeling sluggish and tired during the day, it’s important to note that it could potentially be something much more serious than just a lack of rest or everyday influences. Chronic fatigue, frequent tiredness and feeling low on energy often can be a symptom of an underlying health condition. It can also be a side effect from taking certain medications.
Some conditions that are linked to fatigue include:
- Thyroid problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms before jumping to conclusions about your health. The solution to your tiredness could be as simple as making a few lifestyle changes, like drinking more water or adjusting your screen time. But if your sleepiness is persistent, make sure to check in with a professional to rule out something like a health condition or concern.
For more tips, tricks and energy-boosting ideas to fight tiredness, keep reading: