No one wants to hear this. Let's assume that the person saying it means well and is considering your wellbeing, but really, when someone tells you that you look exhausted, tell me you don't think you look like this.
I want to talk about what might be making you so tired all the time if you're not working yourself into an early grave or staying up until the wee hours partying. Wake up, Sword Slingers, you're about to find some new energy.
Back before I knew better, I thought being tired after lunch and around dinner time was all part of circadian rhythm and that mine was fierce. After all, many places around the world have a siesta hour and why shouldn't they? The whole world seems to need a snooze at about 1:00-2:00 in the afternoon. It seems perfectly logical that if our bodies are screaming for sleep, we should all just lay our heads down like we used to do in preschool and take a nap for half an hour. While there still may be an element of truth to this, the honest to goodness facts are that, in America, we don't stop for naps. Period.
So what do you do when you're barely able to hold your eyes open and find yourself nodding off in that important meeting, and why the heck are you nodding off anyway if you got a decent night's sleep? I know that is a lot of questions to answer all at once so let's start with the basics.
How much are you sleeping at night? This is such a debated topic and honestly, just as it is for food, it really depends on your own body's needs to decide the right amount of sleep for you. For example, my body thrives on about 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night. If I get more than that, I'm sleepy; less than that, I can't concentrate and I'm zonked by 5:00. The National Sleep Foundation has a chart (of course they do) for recommended number of hours for each age group but if you look at the range of hours, you really do need to listen to your body and see what works best for you.
You might be saying, "Okay Megan. I'm falling asleep and stay in bed for the right number of hours but I can't actually STAY asleep. I wake up all the time!" I hear ya. This is a common complaint with my coaching clients and with my friends. Waking up in the middle of the night is a wicked slap in the face that keeps on stinging all day long, isn't it? There's nothing like laying in the dark, staring at your alarm clock... the ceiling... the wall... getting up to get a drink.... a snack..... watch infomercials.... FINALLY nodding off again before you buy that fancy chopper and then waking up before the sun on the couch. Does that sounds like your night?
If this is a frustrating cycle that you experience more than occasionally, it may be due to what's happening before bed. There is plenty of research out there that considers the effect of blue light exposure on your ability to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation,
"The blue light that's emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body's internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule. ... Light from fluorescent bulbs and LED lights can produce the same effect." https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-blue-light-affects-kids-sleep Sure this article was written about kid's getting enough sleep but the same is true for adults. If you're up watching TV, playing on your phone or reading on your iPad, you might need to shut down a little earlier to let that melatonin kick in and do it's thing. Some ideas to consider are journaling or reading an actual paper book.
There are, of course, other reasons that people wake up during the night than the blue-light special and I talk more specifically about those reasons in my coaching practice. Some of these reasons include stress which always seems to peak once you've just fallen asleep, and what foods are messing with your sleep cycles. We consider what you're eating, when you're eating and how you're eating, and how all of these factors might be keeping you awake when you'd like nothing better than to be having visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.
Finally, if you're sleeping well at night, why are you so stinking tired in the afternoon? That's a really good question and I'm glad you asked. As I just mentioned, sometimes the foods we eat can really cause havoc on our body's ability to function the way we need it to. A great example of this is that afternoon lull that we start to feel about two hours after lunch and probably again right when it's time to be making dinner. Of course there is a very natural ebb and flow to our energy levels that have to do with energy and metabolism, but we can use that natural energy movement in conjunction with what we eat for lunch and for a snack to keep our levels up instead of waiting for the next drop, and it's not as hard as you might think. It's all about what foods work best for your body that will keep you energized and your blood sugar level stable, while also honoring that natural clock that we all come pre-programmed with. Check out this great graphic I found at the link below that shows how blood sugar rises and falls along with your body's circadian rhythm.
It's a lot to figure out, I know. I certainly don't want to leave you exhausted after reading about how to have more energy, so let's wrap this week's blog up with the knowledge and power in knowing that you can have more energy all day long by simply learning to listen to your body and what it needs. I promise you that it is all possible and I want to help you get started right away because that feeling of desperate sleepiness is the worst! Click here and schedule your FREE 45 minute Ditch the Diet Breakthrough Session and let's talk for 45 minutes. You're guaranteed to get some great insight on what is keeping you sleepy. Don't forget to share this post with your napping buddies!
Promise yourself right now that you're done being too tired to get anything done, to workout, to play with your kids or to make dinner. That's no way to live and the answer really may be only a phone call away. I'm wishing you all the best, as always. Make this weekend fantastic! I'll talk to you very soon.