Why Am I Tired All The Time?
Being tired and lacking energy is something I see with my clients on a daily basis. It can become very limiting for productivity and socially and can really hold us back from feeling our best and living life to the full.
Here I will outline some of the key reasons you may be feeling tired and lacking in energy.
- Lack of sleep
This one may not be a surprise, but it’s very common amongst us Britons. In the UK we get an average of just 6 hours 35 minutes sleep a night.
Now, the recommended amount of sleep per night for an adult is around 7-9 hours. How much sleep you need within this range with vary based on you as an individual and your lifestyle.
When we sleep our body carries out all of the maintenance and restorative work it needs to do, and if we cut our sleep short, we are limiting our potential to perform and feel our best the next day (or continually if lack of sleep if a regular occurrence for you).
- Chronic stress
A little bit of stress now and again is not a bad thing and could in fact increase our alertness and improve performance. But this is in the short term.
These days a lot of us suffer from chronic or prolonged stress from sources such as finances, work, relationships, major life events such as moving home or starting a new job, and bereavements.
When our stress is longer term, it causes our bodies to remain in a ‘fight or flight’ state, causing lots of cortisol (stress hormone) to be produced as well as adrenaline. This response causes our bodies to work a lot harder than when in a relaxed state, and as well as other consequences such as weight gain, it can contribute to tiredness and fatigue.
- Low iron
Low blood iron levels or low iron store levels are common causes of tiredness, especially for menstruating women, as they have increased sources of blood loss. One of iron’s roles is to transport oxygen around the body, so you may feel tired and out of breath if you don’t have enough iron reaching your cells. Ferritin is our store of iron in the body, so when your stores are low this can contribute to tiredness.
I would always recommend an iron and ferritin blood test if you are constantly tired, which is a simple test and can be done with your GP. If you find you are low in iron or ferritin, there could be many reasons for this. So please contact a health professional to help you with this.
- Low B vitamins
Our B vitamins are a family of vitamins that are heavily involved in energy production, so any deficiencies in these could result in you lacking energy and feeling tired.
I wanted to focus on vitamin B12, especially with the rise in vegan diets. We mainly get our vitamin B12 from animal protein sources such as meat, fish and eggs, so when these are removed from the diet, our B12 intake reduces. The body can store B12 for a few years, so you may not notice the tiredness straight away, however this is a nutrient to consider getting tested if you do notice your energy levels declining whilst on a vegan diet.
There are some vegan sources of B12, such as nutritional yeast flakes which are perfect for sprinkling onto savour dishes such as soups, pastas, dips and rice dishes.
- Blood sugar level roller coaster
Blood sugar levels are something I talk about a lot (click here to be taken to an article all about blood sugar levels), as they are so critical when it comes to energy levels and lethargy.
Put in simple terms, consuming lots of processed, refined and high carbohydrate/sugary foods throughout the day is going to leave you feeling low in energy, low in mood and craving more sweetness about 1-2 hours after the high sugar intake. We call this a rollercoaster and it’s a series of extreme energy highs and lows throughout the day if we eat in this way. Balanced meals and snacks are the way to go to beat this (see article).
- Not eating enough nutrient dense food
Undernourishment is also an issue I see in clinic a lot. This usually comes from a place of calorie restricted diets, with little focus on the nutrient content of foods. Not eating enough good quality nutrients can contribute to feeling tired and lacking in energy.
It’s very common for me to hear that clients are not included good sources of protein and fats with their meals, but building meals from carbohydrates mainly. Protein and healthy fats are really important when it comes to energy production and sustaining energy throughout the day, as they take longer to break down than carbohydrates. They also help make meals more balanced from a blood sugar level perspective.
I always recommend clients to let go of calorie counting and focus more on the nutrient quality of their diets.
Our thyroid function is vital when it comes to energy levels, as the thyroid gland regulates a lot of your bodily functions. When thyroid function is low (hypothyroidism) this can lead to us feeling sluggish and lethargic, due to our body functions slowing down.
As with low iron levels, there may be many reasons why your thyroid function may have slowed down, and this is something you would need to investigate further with a healthcare professional.
So, as you can see, there is often not a simple or quick answer to the question why am I always tired? I recommend having some baseline blood tests done as one of your first steps so you are able to check your levels before you start some work on improving things.
If you would like to get to the bottom of your tiredness and lack of energy, please contact me as I would love to help you feel your best!
*** This blog post is not intended or implied to be a substitute for seeking professional medical advice, medications, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions. Please contact your GP or private health consultant if you have any personal health concerns or consult a registered nutritional therapist for personalised dietary and lifestyle advice and guidance.