Still tired after a long sleep?
Okay, so you’ve gone to bed at a sensible time, you’ve gotten at least 8 hours under your belt but somehow, you still wake up feeling as though somebody’s pulled the plug on your energy levels. This can be frustrating as, at least if you’ve stayed up late or woken up through the night, you can easily pinpoint the source of your tiredness. In these circumstances, there doesn’t always appear to be an obvious answer or solution which is why today I’m going to take a look at a few reasons why you could be waking up feeling none the fresher for your 8 hours of sleep and, more importantly, what you can do to sustain your energy levels during the day.
Quality, not quantity
When it comes to sleep, most people tend to think in terms of hours gained or lost, but in reality it’s quality that really matters. So, what do I mean by quality exactly? Well, simply put, quality refers to how well you’ve slept: how easy was it for you to fall asleep? Was your sleep uninterrupted during the night? Did you spend a sufficient amount of time in each sleep phase? Did you wake up in a natural and organic way? Any of these, and numerous other factors, can impact the quality of your sleep and therefore how tired you feel the next day.
For example, if you’re spending most of your sleep time in a lighter, non-REM phase of sleep then your body won’t be getting the deep sleep it needs to recharge itself for the following day. This means that, despite getting a full night of sleep, you’ll still feel sluggish the next day. This can be a real problem, particularly for new mothers as despite their baby sleeping through the night, they still linger in this lighter sleep phase, ready to wake up at the slightest provocation.
The solution: If sleep quality matters to you then you really need to focus on your sleep routine. There are plenty of factors that can influence your quality of sleep but most of it comes down to what you’re doing before and after going to bed. If you’re falling asleep with your smartphone in your hand or are on-the-go right up until you climb into bed then these are issues that you are going to have to address. It also really matters what type of environment you’re sleeping in – is it a restful one or is it cluttered? You might need to make some small changes here to make your sleep environment more relaxing. If you want more advice about how to create a proper sleep routine, please feel free to check out my sleep hygiene tips here.
You’re not sleeping correctly for your cycle
Sleep can be extremely subjective and all of our bodies will function in slightly different ways. If you’re a natural early bird then you’re going to find it easier to cope with getting up at 6am compared to someone who’s more of a night owl. It also doesn’t help that alarm clocks can exacerbate this issue – your body is accustomed to sleeping in cycles and sometimes your alarm can rudely interrupt your sleep in the middle of a particular phase. This means that you’re going to wake up feeling confused, disorientated and more than a little bit exhausted.
The solution: If you’re a night owl struggling to adapt your sleep patterns, don’t worry. I talk a little bit about the chronological differences between morning larks and night owls in my blog, ‘The differences between night owls and morning larks’. Here I also address how you can gently adjust your sleep patterns. On the other hand, if you’re a serial snoozer, persistently procrastinating against getting up, then this is also a habit you need to fix. It might help if you invest in a different type of alarm – rather than being rudely awoken by a loud wailing noise, you could try a ‘light alarm clock’ which instead gently filters light into your room over a 30 minute period, gradually waking you up rather than instantaneously ramming you out of a sleep cycle.
Your sleep wasn’t as undisturbed as you initially thought
There are plenty of factors that can disturb your sleep or knock you into a lighter sleep cycle without you being consciously aware of it. Sleeping next to a partner who is restless or snores, for example, can easily sap your sleep quality. It’s also possible that other issues, such as fluctuating blood glucose levels, could also be playing a role too. One of the biggest factors that undoubtedly affects how much uninterrupted sleep you’re getting is sleep apnoea, a sleep condition characterised by long pauses in breathing that is often accompanied by snoring.
The solution: If you suffer from an underlying sleep condition like sleep apnoea, this is really something you need to speak to a doctor about so I’d definitely recommend getting yourself checked if you have any suspicions. On the other hand, as I will shortly discuss, fluctuating blood glucose levels are often related to your diet so this is another factor that’s definitely worth considering. Again, your sleep environment can be important here so if your partner is snoring or your room is full of distractions that could easily disrupt your sleep, it might be worth having a chat with your loved one or again, readjusting your sleep hygiene routine.
It’s what you’re eating and drinking
If you’re familiar with any of my other blogs across the site, you’ll know I’m not a massive fan of eating heavy meals before bedtime and for good reason! Your body uses up a lot of energy to break down your food and if you’re going to bed on a full stomach, your digestive system is going to be working overtime, expanding energy while you sleep. It’s isn’t just when you eat that you need to consider, though. What you eat can be just as pivotal. If you’re eating sugar-loaded foods before bedtime, for example, then your blood glucose levels are going to go up and down like a yo-yo while you sleep, knocking you into a lighter phase. Alcohol and caffeine are also worth noting here as both substances can prevent you from entering a deeper sleep cycle.
The solution: It goes without saying that there are certain foods that should ideally be avoided before bedtime, such as processed fats, salty meats and refined sugar. However, what can be just as important are the foods that are missing from your diet. Foods that are rich in sleep boosting minerals like magnesium or amino acids like tryptophan should definitely be consumed readily throughout the day – again, just try to make sure you’re not eating them in large amounts right before you go to bed! If you are feeling groggy during the day, rather than reaching for a mug of tea or coffee (caffeine can sometimes linger in your body for over 6 hours!) instead pick something that’s going to support your energy levels without impacting your sleep patterns, such as our Balance Mineral Drink.
There’s an underlying health condition at play
Viral infections, allergies, night sweats and even low iron levels; all of these factors could easily prevent you from getting the good quality sleep you need to feel refreshed the next day. Unfortunately, all of these problems are quite common, but on the bright side, at least most of us are familiar with the steps needed to tackle such issues. However, when it comes to more complex conditions such as stress we tend to falter. This can be problematic as stress can not only prevent us from sleeping, once we’re asleep it can actually decrease the amount of deep sleep we get, causing us to spend more time in a REM sleep cycle.1 As I mentioned earlier, you need plenty of deep sleep to help your body carry out essential repair work and to feel restored the next morning. It also doesn’t help that stress can easily leave you feeling fatigued throughout the day too!
The solution: If you are suffering from a nasty cold or a bout of seasonal allergies, then at least you might be able to take action quite quickly, either by investing in an allergy remedy like Pollinosan or purchasing a product to help ease the symptoms, such as Sinuforce Nasal Spray or our Cough Spray. In the case of low iron levels, there are plenty of iron supplements out there that can help, but if you’re being affected by an issue like stress then the solution isn’t always so clear cut.
Unfortunately, stress isn’t just something that can impact your sleep; it can easily pull the plug on your energy levels throughout the day too, leading to feelings of mental exhaustion and fatigue. That’s why, if stress could be affecting how tired you feel, it’s important to know that there is help out there. Even if you don’t quite feel up to confronting the source of your worries just yet, I do offer some advice in my blog, ‘Your top 10 stress busting tips’, plus you could try a natural, gentle stress remedy such as our AvenaCalm tincture.
You’re getting too much sleep
That’s right, too much sleep can leave you feeling just as exhausted as having too little! How exactly can this be the case though? Well, as it turns out, this is actually related back to what I was saying at the beginning of this blog about quality vs. quantity. You can get as much sleep as you like but this quantity isn’t a reflection on the quality of sleep you’re experiencing. Furthermore, studies have found that when adults do sleep longer, they tend to experience higher levels of lethargy, fatigue and irritability.2 Oversleeping has even been linked to increased cases of depression3, although this relationship can be tricky as low mood tends to inspire oversleeping and then the cycle is perpetuated as oversleeping inspires low mood.
The solution: Human beings are creatures of habit; our bodies like routine which is why I often recommend going to bed, and getting up, at roughly the same time every day. If you find yourself sleeping in at weekends or breaking away from your usual routine, this could indicate why you feel more lethargic. Try to stick to a regular sleep pattern that ensures you’re getting 7-9 hours a night and, as tempting as it might be, try not to break this routine over the weekend. If you find that you’re prone to napping during the day, try to engage in more activities during the day that are going to support your energy levels – exercise is a fantastic way of boosting your energy, plus it can also help to support healthy sleep cycles!