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Why Am I Always Tired?
No amount of caffeine can keep your head from making its way to your desk (no, you’re not sleeping, just resting your eyes). Lunch slips you into a food coma. The 3 p.m. slump feels more like a three-hour grand finale of sleepiness. You go through this cycle day after day. You arealwaystired.
We went to Carl Bazil, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the Division of Epilepsy and Sleep at Columbia University Medical Center to find out what the heck is going on. “People always come to me wanting sleeping pills, but if you don’t change your daily lifestyle habits to get a good night’s sleep, then nothing will work,” he explains.
Address these bad habits to ensure you get restorative sleep each night so you have enough energy to stay alert at work and power through even the most strenuous workouts.
You have a subpar bedroom environment
In order to fall—and stay—asleep, you’ve got to be comfortable. “It seems obvious, but your bed has to be to your liking, the temperature has to be just right, it’s got to be quiet, and you need to remove anything that can be disruptive to sleep—like pets,” Bazil says.
You’re not winding down
“Technology and devices are really the biggest problems interfering with sleep,” Bazil says. If you’re checking emails and social media right up until you go to bed, your brain thinks it needs to stay awake. It’s even worse if you leave your phone on—if you’re drifting off to sleep and it buzzes or beeps, it startles your body and mind into a frenzied, urgent state of mind. “The other problem is tablets and laptops emit blue wavelength emissions, which interfere with your sleep by blocking the secretion of melatonin—a natural signal that tells your body to go to sleep,” Bazil explains. Ultimately, winding down depends on the individual, so if watching television or reading helps you do that, then that’s OK. The point is your brain needs time to relax if you’re going to sleep effectively.
You’re napping too frequently
Naps are somewhat of a paradox. A two-hour nap in the afternoon may feel amazing in the short term, but it can perpetuate poor sleep habits in the long term. “If you’re tired during the day and you have the opportunity—some workplaces even have pods and those sorts of things—naps can give you some extra energy,” Bazil says. But if it causes you to stay up late, or prevents you from falling asleep, you’re only adding to your sleep debt. Best to keep them short and sweet.
You’re eating too many carbs at lunchtime
“Everyone has a natural dip after lunchtime where they tend to get sleepy—especially if you have a carb-heavy lunch like pasta,” Bazil says. Here’s a simple solution: Eat lean proteins and veggies instead.
You’re eating too little or too much before bed
Bears eat to hibernate all-winter long. You should not follow suit—well, sort of.
Video: Why Are You Always Tired?
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