The alarm goes off. A new day is about to start, but you feel everything but excited. No matter how great the day ahead of you is, you can’t think of anything else but how tired you feel and that you want to keep on sleeping. Do you recognize yourself in this description?
Do you wake up exhausted and with no energy? Does your body feel tired and sore in the morning? Do you feel tired, even after 8 hours of sleep, and you keep on being tired even hours after you wake up? If you answered YES to some or all of these questions I suggest you keep on reading this article in order to figure out what’s behind your exhaustion.
It’s completely normal to feel tired once in a while, especially during wintertime or when you have a lot going on. However, it can be really frustrating to wake up exhausted most days and feel almost too tired to function, and it can even have some more serious consequences in the long haul. Below are 17 of the most common reasons you are waking up tired. Discover which one is most likely to be the cause behind your tiredness and how to fix it.
- 1. Late-night Technology
- 2. Coffee
- 3. Food
- 4. You Don’t Rehydrate
- 5. Snoozing
- 6. You Go To Bed At Different Times Each Night
- 7. You Spend Too Much Time In Your Bedroom
- 8. Alcohol Before Bed
- 9. Hot Shower Before Bed
- 10. Short Sleep
- 11. Going To Bed Too Late
- 12. Not So Sleep-friendly Bedroom
- 13. You Are Depressed
- 14. Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies
- 15. Smoking Before Bed
- 16. Chronic Stress
- 17. Go See a Doctor
1. Late-night Technology
Most of us have developed the bad habit to spend time on our phone, tablet or laptop before going to sleep. Sure, it might make you more sleepy sometimes, but the negative sides are much worse.
Namely, the blue light that all these gadgets emit restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep. If your body doesn’t produce enough melatonin, your sleep cycle will be disrupted and it will be much more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Besides, gadgets keep your brain alert and can make you even more awake sometimes, if you see something interesting on Facebook, for example.
How to fix this: As you can imagine, this problem can be fixed pretty easily – you just need to have self-control. Try to shut off your technology at least one hour before you go to bed and reply to all your emails and messages then. Turn off the computer, tablet and the data and sound on your phone. You shouldn’t sleep too close to your phone, as some light can be emitted and disturb your sleep, even if you’re not using it directly. Put all your gadgets away and your sleep should soon be much better.
Are you a coffee-lover who just can’t get enough of coffee? Unfortunately, that can be the reason why you don’t sleep well and feel tired. Namely, coffee, just like the blue light from gadgets, has a bad impact on melatonin and can, therefore, disrupt your sleep, especially if you drink it in the evening or late afternoon.
Caffeine has a half life of 5 to 8 hours. This means that having a double shot espresso 5-8 hours before sleep will have similar effects on your sleep as getting a single shot right before going to bed. Too much coffee can also lead to heartburn, which is also preventing you from sleeping well.
How to fix this: Once again, this is easily fixed if you have self-control and make an effort to drink less coffee. Preferably, you should stop drinking coffee (or other caffeinated beverages for that matter) by mid-afternoon or earlier. Replace your coffee with water. Not only will you sleep better, you will also feel healthier thanks to all that water that’s replacing your coffee. If you really feel that you desperately need one cup of coffee sometimes you can choose a decaf coffee.
Most of us know how important healthy food is for our body, but often we choose to ignore it and opt for unhealthy food. Besides being harmful in many other ways, certain foods can also have a negative impact on our sleep. You should avoid the following:
- High-fat foods; they activate digestion, which can lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.
- Caffeine; I have already mentioned coffee, but don’t forget other sources of caffeine – tea, chocolate, coca cola, and certain medications.
- Alcohol; even if alcohol might help you with falling asleep, in the long haul the sleep gets disrupted and you might wake up often during the night, have nightmares and experience headaches.
- Spicy, heavy foods; you shouldn’t eat heavy meals at least 4 hours before going to sleep. Besides making it harder to fall asleep, the digestion is much slower when we sleep and the risk of weight gain is, therefore, higher.
- Foods high in sugar; besides being unhealthy, sugar also keeps us awake and make it harder to fall asleep.
How to fix this: You should avoid the abovementioned foods before going to bed. Instead, opt for food that will help you fall asleep faster. Have you heard of teas that promote better sleep? Do your research and include some of them in your daily routine.
Namely, some of the most efficient foods that can help you fall asleep are those that are rich in tryptophan, in other words, dairy. Other good choices are nuts, seeds, eggs, bananas, and honey. The best solution is not to eat anything at least a couple of hours before going to bed, but if you feel that you have to one night, choose a light snack rich in tryptophan.
4. You Don’t Rehydrate
We all probably know that our body consists of mostly water. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we need much water to function well in many ways, sleeping included. When we’re dehydrated it messes with our blood volume, which makes the heart less efficient and leads to fatigue. So, if you’re waking up tired, even after a full night’s sleep, a lack of water could be behind it.
A lack of water is not only disrupting your sleep, it could even have some serious impacts on your health. Did you know that most strokes and heart attacks strike in the morning? This is explained by the fact that the blood is the thickest in the morning, as we don’t drink water during the night. When the blood is thick, it clogs more easily, which can lead to the abovementioned problems.
How to fix this: In order to prevent any problems and stay hydrated throughout the day and at night you need to drink a lot of water during the day. It’s not enough only to drink a glass of water before you go to bed, you need to drink water throughout the day. You should also drink one glass of water before you go to bed, to keep your body hydrated throughout the night.
When you wake up, brush your teeth immediately to kill any bacteria that developed during the night, and then drink two glasses of water. It is also a good idea to avoid coffee before breakfast and water, as coffee is a diuretic and helps the body get rid of water, which is the opposite to what you need in the morning.
We’ve all been there – the alarm goes off, but we just don’t feel ready to get out of bed and start the day. So you snooze. What’s the harm, right? It’s only 10 more minutes. Sure, it might be just another 10 minutes, but I am sure that you, just like me, feel much more tired afterward and that you might even snooze a couple more times, making it more and more difficult to get up every time. There’s a very logical explanation for this.
Namely, when you snooze you send your body the message that it’s time to begin a new sleeping cycle. Except it’s not a sleeping cycle, it’s just 10 more minutes. This confuses your brain and body and is the reason why you feel even more tired after hitting the snooze button, as you’re literally waking up at the beginning of a new sleep cycle – the worst possible time to wake up!
How to fix this: The easy solution is – don’t snooze. Easier said than done, right? This is why you need to come up with creative ways that will prevent you to snooze. One common solution is to put your alarm out of reach. That way you have to get up in order to turn the alarm off. You could also replace snoozing with another morning routine.
Instead of hitting the snooze button, take your phone and start reading the newspaper or scroll through social media. You could also download an app that will prevent you to snooze until you solve, for example, a math problem. Whatever you choose, it should be something that makes your brain and body wake up.
6. You Go To Bed At Different Times Each Night
A common reason behind sleeping problems is a lack of routine. Many studies have been conducted in recent years and they all show that people who go to bed at approximately the same time every night sleep better, are more successful and have a better health. The same goes for waking up at approximately the same time.
Namely, if you go to bed at very different times every night, it prevents your body from releasing hormones that make you feel sleepy at the right time, which confuses and throws off your body clock. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day you teach your body when it is time to sleep and you create a routine that both your body and your mind will benefit from.
How to fix this: Think about your daily routine and try to find an appropriate time to go to bed and wake up, that will be feasible on weekends as well. When you have chosen the right time for you, it is important to stick to it, especially in the beginning, until your body starts creating a routine.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be to wake up and go to bed really early. If you’re not an early bird you will not be able to follow through with it after a while. Instead, choose a routine that suits you and your schedule – it could very well be sleeping from 1 AM to 9 AM!
7. You Spend Too Much Time In Your Bedroom
Many of us love spending time in the bed and the bedroom. However, this could have a negative impact on your sleep. How come? Well, the brain should only associate your bed with sleeping. Your brain should send the body a signal that it’s time to sleep when you lie down in the bed.
But if you do many other things in your bed during the day you might confuse your brain and it won’t know what to associate the bed with. If you, for example, study, work or eat in your bed it could disrupt your sleep and make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
How to fix this: Try to limit your time spent in the bed and the bedroom to only sleeping or resting. The point is to make the brain associate the bed with sleeping. Create a new place for studying and working.
If you don’t like sitting on a chair all day long with your laptop in front of you (like me), you can still lie down on the sofa and work or study from there, as long as it’s not in your bed. Also, never eat in your bed. Besides affecting your sleep negatively, it is also bad for your health and digestion to eat lying down.
8. Alcohol Before Bed
It is very common to have one or more glasses of wine, for example, in order to fall asleep more easily. While it can make you fall asleep more easily, it doesn’t have a good impact on your sleep quality. When we drink, the production of adenosine (a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain) increases and makes it easier to fall asleep. However, it subsides as quickly as it came and makes us wake up during the night.
Alcohol also blocks the REM-sleep, which is the deepest, most regenerative sleep. Some other common side effects linked to alcohol are snoring and sleep apnea , as alcohol relaxes muscles, including throat muscles, and therefore leads to the abovementioned problems. Alcohol, being a diuretic, also increases the trips to the bathroom during the night and disrupts your sleep.
How to fix this: You should avoid drinking right before you go to sleep. If you are drinking, always drink with water. One glass of alcohol should always go hand in hand with one glass of water. Try to find an alternative for that glass of wine before bedtime. Another good solution, if you like beer or wine, is to choose non-alcoholic ones. That way you get to keep your routine, but without the negative side effects and a much healthier sleep.
9. Hot Shower Before Bed
You have probably heard that hot showers make us sleepier and help us fall asleep faster. You might even have that as a routine, especially during those cold winter nights. But, thinking back, did it really help your sleep quality or did it just made you fall asleep faster, but disrupted your sleep quality? Namely, our body associates sleep with a fall in body temperature. So, if you’re taking a hot shower right before bed it will confuse your body and have the opposite effect you are looking for.
How to fix this: I understand that you enjoy a nice, warm shower. As do I! But if you are going to shower in the evening, do it at least 90 minutes before going to bed. That way you will still be able to enjoy your shower and have good sleeping quality. An even better solution is to take a cold shower before bed! It doesn’t have to be freezing cold, just a bit chillier. This will send the message to your brain that it’s time to sleep and will hopefully make you sleep better throughout the night.
10. Short Sleep
A very simple explanation behind your sleeping problems is that you don’t get enough sleep. You have probably heard that 7-8 hours per night is optimal. I know how difficult it can be to achieve that every night, especially with small children or a stressful job. However, not getting enough sleep can have such a bad impact on your life in general. You might be angrier, more stressed out, hungrier, your focus and memory get worse, and so on and so forth. But being aware of all this can make matters even worse, as you are stressing out about not getting enough sleep.
How to fix this: First of all, you need to determine why you are not getting enough sleep. Is it due to bad organization, too many responsibilities or stress overall? If you feel that you are doing everything at home, for example cleaning, cooking, taking care of the children etc., you should discuss this with your partner and try to share your responsibilities.
If you are working too late, you should set an hour when you have to stop. Sometimes it’s not possible if you have a deadline for instance, but most things you can continue in the morning. It’s better to be efficient for a shorter period of time than working a little bit until late at night. Say, for example, that your working day stops at 9 PM and stop whatever you are doing at that time. Give yourself at least two hours before bedtime to wind down and think about other things.
Meditation before bedtime is also good to clear your head. It is very difficult to give a general advice as we are all different and have different problems preventing us to sleep, so the most important thing is to determine why you are not getting enough sleep and then figure out how to solve it.
11. Going To Bed Too Late
Another common reason behind fatigue is that you are going to bed too late. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not getting enough hours of sleep, you could very well be sleeping 7-8 hours, but at a “bad time”. Namely, it’s very different to sleep from 10 PM – 6 AM than from 3 AM – 11 AM. This depends on two factors: melatonin and REM-sleep.
When it comes to melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, it is 10 times more active at night than during the day. Melatonin levels also have a seasonal (or circannual) rhythm, with higher levels in the autumn and winter, when nights are longer. In order to get the best sleep quality, it is preferable to fall asleep around midnight or 1 AM at the latest so that melatonin can be secreted appropriately and improve the sleep quality.
The second factor is the shift between REM and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep is the deepest sleep and this is where our body and mind regenerate. After you fall asleep, you cycle through 90-minutes of non-REM sleep followed by REM sleep. However, these cycles change during the night.
Early in the night, the majority of these phases are deep, non-REM sleep. As the night is approaching the day, the phases consist of REM-sleep more and more. So, if you sleep 8 hours from 11 PM – 7 AM it will be different than 8 hours from 3 AM to 11 AM. So, if you go to bed too late, your body will be deprived of important restorative functions.
How to fix this: Not everyone is morning types, and that is completely normal. Some people fall asleep easily around 10 PM while that seems like an impossible mission for others. However, even if you can’t fall asleep that early, most of us can still fall asleep around midnight or 1 AM. That is still enough for the melatonin to be secreted properly and to catch the ”healthy”, non-REM sleep.
Try to finish your day at least a couple of hours before you will go to sleep and just relax and rewind. That way you are sending your body a message that soon you will go to sleep. In the beginning, it might not be that easy, but after a while, you will create a routine your body will happily accept.
12. Not So Sleep-friendly Bedroom
I have already mentioned the fact that you shouldn’t spend too much time in your bedroom. Another common problem is that your bedroom isn’t that sleep-friendly. In short, your bedroom should be: rather dark and cool, clean, quiet and with fresh air. Interestingly enough, the color on your walls could also affect your sleep. The best colors for sleep are blue, yellow and green, while the worst is purple.
How to fix this: Besides painting your walls a different color, here are 5 quick tips for a sleep-friendly bedroom:
1. Get a more comfortable mattress.
2. Lower the temperature a bit.
3. Shut the curtains and turn off lights at night. When you wake up, open the blinds and let your brain know that it’s time to wake up.
4. Use relaxing scents, such as lavender and chamomile.
5. Turn off all electronics (see point 1 above).
13. You Are Depressed
Depression affects more and more people every day. Common symptoms of depression are:
- Extreme sadness or feeling of emptiness
- Feeling hopeless or guilty
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- An increase or decrease in the need for sleep
For many depressed people, insomnia and depression go hand in hand. It could also be the other way around – your insomnia could increase the chances of depression. While it can’t cause depression, it can play a role.
How to fix this: If you are depressed you need to see a therapist and work on your problems. It is important that you mention your sleeping problems to your doctor so that you can figure out a way to deal with it.
14. Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies
Vitamins and minerals are essential for so many things, including sleeping. A deficiency of certain vitamins can make the sleep quality worse, while a lack of some other vitamins can lead to fatigue during the day, even after a full nights sleep. Below are some of the most common vitamin deficiencies that have a bad impact on your sleep, and how to fix it.
- Selenium; this deficiency can impact our sleep negatively. It can especially make it harder to fall asleep.
How to fix this: The recommended daily amount of selenium is 55 micrograms. You can get this in a single Brazil nut. Other good sources of selenium are oysters, salmon, tuna and shrimps.
- Omega-3 fatty acids; this deficiency can prevent you from getting a deep, more restful sleep.
How to fix this: Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, salmon and fortified eggs, which come from chickens eating feed containing flaxseeds.
- Magnesium; this deficiency makes it harder to fall asleep and to wake up early in the morning.
How to fix this: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, and sesame seeds are sources of magnesium. There are also magnesium supplements that you can take.
- Vitamin-D; this deficiency makes you wake up more and sleep less during the night, while it makes you more tired during the day.
How to fix this: Some of the best sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, and fish liver oils. Alternatively, you can take supplements.
15. Smoking Before Bed
How many times have you heard that smoking is bad for you? It’s bad for your teeth, your skin, your lungs – but also your sleep! Many people who smoke have the habit to smoke a cigarette before going to bed, but this can actually have really bad consequences on your sleep. As you know, cigarettes contain nicotine which increases your heart rate and alertness. This is the opposite of what you want before going to bed.
In addition, nicotine might disrupt your sleep if you are addicted. When you smoke, nicotine enters your bloodstream and brain quickly, but it also leaves it pretty quickly and makes you wanting for more. This kind of addiction can wake you up from your sleep and thus disrupt your sleep cycle. Multiple studies have found other negative effects on sleep. According to these studies, smokers take much longer to fall asleep, they sleep less and they also wake up more tired and unfresh the day after.
How to fix this: I think you know what I’m about to say… Yes, you should quit smoking. Did you know that 85 % of smokers who try to quit relapse within the first week? And did you also know that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you endure these 21 days it will be much easier after that? So, ideally, you should stop smoking. If you are not there yet, at least try not to smoke directly before going to bed. Try to smoke your last cigarette at least two hours before.
16. Chronic Stress
Stress impacts our lives in so many ways, including sleeping. Everyone feels stressed out from time to time, due to many different, individual reasons. Different people experience different situations stressful, as we usually find something stressful when it’s important to us. However, when the stress doesn’t go away and becomes chronic, the consequences are much worse. The concentration and memory become affected, and it gets more and more difficult to sleep at night.
You have probably heard the phrase ” to lose sleep over something”. This phrase describes this kind of insomnia perfectly. When we are stressed, we tend to overthink things and it is difficult to be rational and calm down. During the day, when you are busy, it might be easier to cope, but at night all the stressful thoughts come back and you lie in your bed and can’t stop thinking about everything that’s on your mind. And to make matters worse, you become stressed because you can’t fall asleep and the vicious circle starts.
How to fix this: All the above-mentioned tips can help, for example, creating a routine and trying to go to bed at approximately the same time every day. Meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are also great ways to get rid of stress and relax before falling asleep. Another great thing you can do that will release stress and make you relax is to have sex! Most importantly, try to understand what’s causing the stress and figure out how to deal with it, on your own or with the help of a professional.
17. Go See a Doctor
As you can see, there can be many different reasons behind your fatigue and/or insomnia and many can be solved just by changing some habits and making an effort. However, if nothing helps, it could be time to see a doctor. You might be having a sleeping disorder or something else that you can’t deal with on your own, so the best thing would be to talk to a professional in order to find a solution and get rid of your fatigue once and for all!