Should I worry about being tired all the time? | Sleep

zWavy, worn out, worn out, defecated, shattered, spoiled…or just totally exhausted. In the same way that Shona-speaking Zimbabweans have a dozen verbs for walking, our modern vocabulary seems to have developed 20 ways to explain that we are pretty tired most of the time. But is there something about 21st-century life—our screen addictions, our side hustle culture, or our always-on mentality—that means we’re more tired, or are we just noticing it more? And when should you start worrying?

“The simple answer is that we must distinguish between tiredness and fatigue,” says Professor Russell Foster, director of the Sleep and the Institute of Circadian Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. “Tiredness is cured by sleeping enough; fatigue is not and is usually a marker of an underlying health condition. So if you are getting enough sleep but wake up feeling chronically lethargic and unable to function properly, you should see your GP.”

Those problems tend to appear alongside other symptoms, says Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director at Bupa. Health Clinics. “Anemia (when there are not enough red blood cells or hemoglobin for the body’s needs) can cause weakness or difficulty breathing, while diabetes can cause thirst and weight loss. An underactive thyroid gland, which can mean that metabolic processes are not regulated properly, often causes weakness and fatigue, but can occur along with weight gain and depression.”

But what if you’re just… tired? Maybe you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep (or trying) but worried that restlessness at night or some dysfunction in your circadian rhythm will leave you bleary-eyed and tired during the day? Well, the first thing to understand is that traditional recommendations are often too simplistic.

“Everyone is neurotic about their eight-hour work these days, but studies take averages,” Foster says.

“A healthy range of sleep time could be as little as six hours or as many as 10, or 10 and a half. Yes, several studies have said that if you are above or below eight you will have a reduced life expectancy, but many of those studies did not look at the health status of the participants.

“If you have fatigue, which is an indicator of poor health, you’ll probably sleep more, and likewise, if you’re short on sleep, that could be due to a wide range of things, including intractable pain. . So not all studies are useful.”

A good tip, then, is that if you feel foggy during the day, go to bed a little earlier. If you get to a point where the sleep you get makes your days more bearable, you’ll probably find a way to keep going. But what if you suspect that spending time alone in bed isn’t the problem?

“What you have to understand is that many people don’t have sleep problems, but rather stress or anxiety,” says Foster. “There is a condition called sleep anxiety, which occurs when people are so worried about not falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night that it affects their sleep. And what most people don’t know is that waking up in the middle of the night is perfectly normal: it’s the default sleep position for all mammals, whether you’re aware of it or not. And when you tell people this, they think, ‘Oh my God, I’m not abnormal.’ If I stay relaxed and keep the lights low, I will almost certainly fall asleep again.’ And that often works.”

If you’re interested in getting the best sleep possible, Foster recommends limiting light sources late at night. need Brush your teeth under a spotlight? – and get out into the sunlight early in the morning to keep your body clock in line. Powles recommends making the most of the daylight hours, spending time outdoors and staying active to strengthen your immune system and help you de-stress.

All the other usual advice still applies, of course: no phones in the bedroom, don’t drink a pint of coffee at 6pm, but realistically, if your only problem is tiredness, try lying down a little longer. early.

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