Why am I tired during the day?
That’s a normal question for a normal situation that almost everyone feels some of the time.
There are a couple of different types of tiredness: One is general exhaustion that lasts all day and the other is the short-term afternoon blahs. Each requires a somewhat different approach.
I’m tired all day long
First, you should determine if you are getting enough sleep. The rule of eight hours a night is not an urban legend – scientists have shown that nearly all of us need at least eight hours of sleep to feel rested during the day. If you have a baby at home, you have to get accustomed to being tired. For everyone else, we really need to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour, at least most of the time.
If you get enough sleep and still feel tired all day, you should schedule a doctor’s visit and rule out health problems like anemia, diabetes or worse. They can be treated or managed and will make you feel better. Once you rule out illness, you can take steps to improve your diet and blood flow, which also apply to shorter periods of utter exhaustion, as discussed below.
I get tired every afternoon
You are not alone. Some research links our afternoon doldrums – when we could really curl up and take a nap – to our natural sleep cycles. You have been awake since early in the morning and it’s hard to keep your eyes open for several hours at a time. Hence the siesta in some cultures.
Other theories say that we bring on the afternoon drowsiness – and maybe the all-day drowsiness too — because of our eating or exercise habits.
Here are recommendations that doctors, nutritionists and therapists of all kinds will suggest if you mention a problem with keeping your eyes open.
You are what you eat
As you probably know, protein is healthier than carbs. So start the day with a fruit smoothie and a scoop of protein powder, or wholegrain oatmeal with cinnamon instead of sugar. Whether you eat out or at your desk, a salad with a slice of cheese and a handful of nuts packs more energy than pasta salad and a chunk of artisan bread. You can add tuna, a hard-boiled egg or chicken to the salad, too. Do you crave a sweet to end your meal? Snack on a square of dark chocolate, which is also full of healthy antioxidants.
You might be what you smell
Essential oils of peppermint or rosemary will wake you up. Add some oil to a diffuser or rub a little on your hands and take a deep breath.
Exercise (You don’t have to sweat)
When your work colleagues are heading out the door for a smoke break, you can head out the opposite exit for a quick walk around the block. In lousy weather, take a few flights of stairs. A few steps to get your blood flowing faster also allows you to take a break from the task that had you snoozing.
In fact, you don’t have to leave your desk in order to exercise. Isometric exercises – tensing a muscle for several seconds – moves your blood and freshens your brain too. Work on your stomach, then chest, calves or any muscle groups you choose. You can sit in your chair the entire time.
Get your Qi on
Acupuncture is also known to improve wakefulness. It makes sense because the point of acupuncture is to increase the vitality of your life flow, or qi, throughout your body. The easier your qi flows, the more relaxed (but not tired) you feel, the easier it is to concentrate, and the more likely you are to feel good all over.