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Health Chatter: Combatting tiredness

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

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Tiredness can affect us in all sorts of ways, from making us less productive, to affecting our mood and ability to deal with things, and even making us dangerous drivers. Getting more sleep is the obvious answer to being less tired, but there are other things we can do to boost energy levels.

What causes tiredness?

There are underlying health conditions that can cause tiredness and fatigue, but in many cases, it is caused by lifestyle factors including sleep habits, diet and activity levels. Mental health can also play a part and you may experience more tiredness if you are suffering from stress, anxiety or other mental health problems.

How to combat tiredness

Eat properly

  • Avoid high-sugar foods and the resulting ‘sugar crash’.

  • Aim to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day by eating regular, balanced meals and making sure your snacks are healthy

Maintain a healthy weight

  • If you are overweight, you are carrying more weight which can not only be exhausting in itself but puts extra strain on your heart which can also contribute to tiredness.

Get active

  • It might seem counter-intuitive but being active actually helps increase your energy levels in the long run.

  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week – build up to this if you’re not normally active and that seems daunting.

Good sleep habits

  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, avoiding having screens in your room, and having some quiet downtime before you go to bed can all help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Make sure your bed and the room temperature is comfortable.

Ditch caffeine

  • Caffeine might give you a brief boost, but like with sugar, you’ll soon experience a drop in energy.

  • Having caffeine late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Cut down alcohol

  • Drinking alcohol before bed makes you sleep less deeply, so you get less benefit from a full night’s sleep than you normally would.

  • Make sure you have plenty of alcohol-free days during the week and don’t exceed 14 units a week.

Stay hydrated

  • Even mild dehydration can cause you to feel tired.

  • If you’re feeling drowsy, having a glass of water, some squash, or a decaf tea can help perk you up.

Stress less

  • Being stressed is exhausting. Look for ways to manage your stress – with exercise, a hobby, spending time with friends, or seeking professional help from your GP or a counsellor if you’re struggling.

Person pouring water from a jug into a glass with sliced lemons in
If you're feeling drowsy, a glass of water can help perk you up

Understand why you’re tired

Being tired itself can cause stress. Perhaps you’re making mistakes because you’re tired, finding it hard to cope, or worrying about why you’re tired.

Understanding that there are all sorts of reasons for tiredness, and ways that you can help yourself, can ease the pressure and help you take steps in the right direction.

Fatigue is an overwhelming form of tiredness that doesn’t get better with sleep or rest. It is often a sign of an underlying health condition, so see your GP if you are struggling or concerned.

If you want more insight into why you might be feeling tired all the time, take a look at our Tiredness & Fatigue Screening service.

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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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