We’ve all experienced it at one time or another: that awful, heavy feeling of being far too tired. It makes us grumpy, lazy, irritable and generally unhappy with everything and everyone around us.

How many of you think that you can “catch up” on missed sleep?

How many of you think it’s natural to feel tired every single day?

Take this short true-or-false sleep quiz. How did you score? (I got 7/10). It’s only a bit of fun, but one of the biggest problems when it comes to sleep is lack of information.

The number of sleep deprived Brits has risen by 50% over the past year, with nearly 6 in 10 people now getting less than 7 hours sleep a night.

Feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for “tired all the time.” If you think this describes how you feel, follow these proven tips to feel better.

1. Unwind & de-stress.

“Most of the time, fatigue is linked with mood and the accumulation of lots of little stresses in life.”

Dr Rupal Shah, London GP.

Unwind and relax

Stress can be the cause of many medical problems, but it’s always easier said than done to unwind and forget about life’s little annoyances.

Everyone has their own way of relaxing: a good old cuppa; a trip to the spa; a chill-out in front of the TV. But if you’re looking for some proven ways to reduce stress, here are three:

  • Buy a plant. Seriously—researchers have found that simply being around plants can induce your relax response. One Washington State University study found that a group of stressed out people who entered a room full of plants had a four-point drop in their blood pressure.
  • Go for a short walk. A walk will help to clear your head and boost endorphins, helping to reduce stress hormones.
  • Laugh. Go on, I dare you—you’ll feel better instantly! Laughter activates your body’s stress response, then quickly cools it down, leaving you feeling relaxed.

2. Get some sun.

the sun makes us feel better

Just fifteen minutes in the sun increases your vitamin D levels, which, along with vitamin B is responsible for fighting fatigue. A common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is feeling tired, moody, achey and stressed. So now that you have the perfect excuse, get outside in the sunshine (if you can find any!).

3. AVOID caffeine.

You might be reaching for the coffee with the view that it will wake you up a bit, but read this first!

Avoid caffeine if tired

Sure, caffeine can give you a bit of a boost in the short term, but you could drink over eight cups and still feel sluggish.

And the side effects of caffeine consumption? Headaches, irritability and dehydration. When you’re already feeling crappy and tired, the last thing you want is to feel worse!

Instead, try an energy-boosting food, like almonds, oranges, salmon, spinach, or blueberries.

4. Have a power nap.

power nap

There are numerous benefits of napping, including improved alertness, learning, memory and performance.

The benefits of a quick power-nap at work have proved to be so good, that companies such as Google and The Huffington Post have installed designated sleeping zones in their offices!

However, author of Take a Nap! Change your Life says that napping for more than 20 minutes will make you feel even WORSE, so make sure you set your alarm!

5. Switch off.

turn off your smartphone before bed

A huge 8 out of 10 of us keep our mobile phones turned on overnight, and according to Ofcom, around half of us use our phones as an alarm clock too.

But experts are concerned that using phones and other electronics before bed are causing us problems with our sleep. Research has shown that the bright light emitted from electronics and smartphones seriously messes with our sleep behaviors.

Their advice is to cut back on TV, computer and mobile phone time after 8 p.m.

Perhaps it’s time to read that book gaining dust in the corner?

6. Eat healthier.

It’s been said many times before, but the foods that we eat (or don’t eat) have a huge influence on our health.

What we eat affects how we sleep

You can easily sleep better by making a few changes to your diet:

  • Peanuts. If you have difficulty falling asleep, eat more peanuts or natural peanut butter. A rich source of niacin, peanuts help to increase the release of serotonin (which makes us sleepy).
  • Cherries. Cherries are one of the few natural foods to contain melatonin (which controls our body clock). One study found that drinking tart cherry juice resulted in improved sleep quality and duration.
  • Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate helps to relax your body and mind. But make sure you stick to dark, as milk chocolate contains tyrosine, which converts into dopamine and acts as a stimulant.

Avoid: Alcohol. Any kind of alcohol is bad for your sleep. One study found that mixing a single glass of vodka with caffeine-free soda at bedtime increased the amount of time women spent awake during the night by 15 minutes.

7. Work out…

Too much time spent sedentary drains your fuel tank.

Exercise will make you feel better

I know, I know—when you’re feeling tired, the last thing you want to do is be active and move about.

But you’ll be amazed at how better it makes you feel!

According to a recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women who get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week report less fatigue and more energy that those who don’t.

8. …But not too much.

too much exercise will make sleep worse

On the flip side, you can have too much of a good thing. Excessive physical activity can leave you pushing your body, resulting in feelings of tiredness.

Try to find the balance between activity and rest.

Featured photo credit: Hard at Work via flickr.com

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