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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Why Am I Feeling Tired All the Time? (And How to Fix It)

Why Am I Feeling Tired All the Time? (And How to Fix It)

Let’s start with the fact that there are healthy reasons to feel tired and there are unhealthy reasons to feel tired.

If you are feeling tired all the time, that is a good sign you are feeling tired for an unhealthy reason. It is healthy to feel tired after working out, going on a run or participating in an extracurricular activity. It is unhealthy to feel tired after sleeping for 10-hours and not exerting yourself throughout the day.

If you are feeling tired all the time, you may have noticed your productivity or ability to focus suffer. In this article, let’s discuss some of the most common reasons you feel tired and how to fix it.

1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

Feeling tired all the time could be a sign you are not taking care of yourself.

Think of yourself as your favorite luxury vehicle. To keep your car running optimally, you need regular oil changes, to use high-quality fuel and to keep up with the regular maintenance schedule. If you don’t replace your oil on a regular basis, your car won’t efficiently.

When you are feeling tired all the time, check to see if you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Are you sleeping the recommended 8-hours a day? If not, that could be the easiest change you can make in your life.

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Much like a car, the quality of fuel you put in your engine impacts your performance. Are you eating food that is full of nutrients or are you eating empty calories? All energy is not created equal. Even if you eat the same number of calories, you will get more energy from fruits and vegetables than you will from cake and ice cream. If you don’t feel you are ready to change your diet just yet, a good place to start is by taking more vitamins.

Lastly, consider what your ideal weight should be and if you are not there, make a plan to get there. If your body is carrying around extra baggage, studies show it can negatively impact your sleep, joints and organs.[1]

2. Pretending to Be Something You Are Not

Let’s just rip the bandage off and get at the heart of the discussion. If you feel tired shortly after you start working, then you may be exerting a significant amount of mental energy with your coworkers.

Much like your physical exertion can exhaust you over time, mental exertion can exhaust you too. Most people start feeling tired around the end of a long work day. This is normal. You have used a hefty amount of mental energy making various decisions throughout the day.[2] If your decisions are limited to work, you will likely make it through most of the day before feeling tired. If you are feeling tired all the time, then you are not being honest with yourself and others.

When work is overly political, you have to cautiously calculate every step you take. That is adding a significant amount of decisions to your daily count. The same can hold true with relationships in your personal life. If you have a family member who is very sensitive, you are walking on egg-shells to ensure you don’t offend them.

Whether in your professional or personal life, if you are forcing yourself to act in an unnatural manner, you will be feeling tired all the time. In a way, you are living a lie and you don’t want to be caught. And like most lies, you have to pause before each interaction to make sure you haven’t exposed yourself.

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It takes less energy to be true to yourself. When you do what comes naturally to you, it is like you are operating on autopilot. A good example of this is the energy you apply when driving home. It is so natural to you that you could daydream while driving and still make it home safely. When things are so natural to you that it can be accomplished by your subconscious, you are saving your mental energy for the important decisions.

Ideally, having a conversation with a coworker or a family member would be as natural as blinking or brushing your teeth. You say what comes to your mind and there is nothing for you to consciously consider.

3. You Loathe Something About Your Life

Stress is a real thing my friend, but keep in mind that all stress is not bad. Much like feeling tired, you don’t want to feel stressed all the time.

Some common causes of acute stress are losing a job, going through a divorce or the death of a loved one. As you see, these examples are unique circumstances that should not happen on a regular basis. However, when stress has you feeling tired all the time, then you are dealing with stress related to activities you perform on a daily basis. The most common of these triggers are being unhappy in your job, feeling insecure in a relationship or having a heavy work load.

There are two ways to deal with chronic stress in your life: You can remove the stress and you can manage the stress.

Ideally, when an aspect of your life causes you to feel stressed on a daily basis, you should remove it from your life. Understanding you may not be able to eliminate the stressful aspects of your life overnight, you may be better suited to start by managing your stress. Whether you are talking about work or family, they didn’t always cause you so much stress. By focusing on what excited you most about your job when you accepted it, you can reduce the stress your job creates.

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Are you grateful for the ability to provide for your family or could the friendships you built be a bright spot? In those strained relationships with your family and friends, reflect on a time when things were better. What about your spouse caused you to say, “I do” and when was your friend supporting you when others didn’t? If you are among those who genuinely cannot recall a time when things were better, then you need to manage your stress by limiting your interactions until you can eliminate them altogether.

4. Progress Has Stopped

If your future is not more compelling than your life today, you can’t help but be feeling tired all the time. One of the most beautiful and motivating things about life is growth. Of all the differences each of us have, the desire for growth and progress is something we all share.

Feeling stagnant in your life is exhausting within itself. It is unlikely you are feeling stagnant due to a lack of effort. You are most likely exerting a lot of energy to change your life, but for one reason or another you have are no closer to your goal. You feel like a hamster running on its wheel. Even though the hamster is not any closer to its goal, it did exercise the energy to do so. If you deal with this feeling long enough, you won’t just stop running on the wheel; you will stop running altogether.

As mentioned, there is little more deflating than the feeling that you are not growing. Especially, if you are putting in the effort to achieve the results you desire.

As simple as it sounds, the life you have is the life you know how to create. The actions and decisions that created your life today, will not be able to create the life you want. You must change the rituals and habits you employ each day to change your life.

A bodybuilder has a different set of eating rituals than a sumo wrestler. Yet, if you are not sure about the rituals of either of them, you cannot change your life to match theirs. You must research and learn how a body builder chooses the food they eat, when they wake up, and how often they work out. If your goal is to create the results of a sumo wrestler, then it does not benefit you to mirror the lifestyle of a bodybuilder.

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The same holds true with your life goals. If you are not progressing toward the results you want, implement the tactics of someone successfully living the lifestyle you want.

Learn the 6 Ways to Make Progress Every Day (And Realize Your Goals).

Final Thoughts

If you are feeling tired all the time, you need to take a step back and recognize what is making you feel so tired. Once you know what is causing the problem, take small steps to change your life overtime.

If your lack of energy is tied to you taking poor care of yourself, then make the necessary adjustments to improve your health. However, if your exhaustion is internally driven, you must take the steps to align your internal purpose with your external actions.

Being yourself is the easiest person you can be. Attempting to be anyone else can be exhausting to say the least. When you are feeling tired all the time because you feel as though you are not making enough progress, review your daily actions and adjust accordingly.

The more you learn about yourself, the better equipped you will be to successfully change your life.

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Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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Published on July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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Reference

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