You’re doing everything right. You have an established bedtime routine, shutting off your electronics for at least an hour before going to bed, and follow the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.
Even after all of this, you’re still feeling tired during the day. You might say you’re feeling “lethargic” or “sluggish”.
We often think that sleep is associated with our sleeping habits. Your issue with daytime tiredness could be linked to certain health habits as well.
For starters, it is important to remember that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is a general guideline for people. Some do fine with 5 to 6 hours of sleep. Others may need 10 hours, or even 11 hours of sleep for all-day energy.
If you’re feeling tired, even with a good night’s sleep, here is what you can start doing about it.
Get to Know Your Body’s Natural Rhythm
Did you know that if you get too much sleep, it can also lead to daytime fatigue? We often associate feelings of tiredness with a lack of sleep, but the opposite is also true.
A good way to begin getting to know your body’s natural rhythm is to plan for 7 ½ hours of sleep tonight. That will give you about 5 full cycles of sleep before you need to get moving in the morning.
Think about the time you need to wake up. Then count back 7.5 hours to reach the time you need to be in bed.
Give yourself three days on this schedule. If you find yourself waking up a little before your alarm is supposed to sound, then you know you’ve hit the right marker for sleep.
If you are relying on your alarm to wake you up, then push back your bedtime by 30 minutes and repeat for another 3 days.
You might find yourself waking up 30 to 90 minutes before your alarm is supposed to go off on the 7.5-hour sleeping schedule too. In that instance, go to bed 30 minutes later for 3 days instead.
The goal here is to find a sweet spot where you’re waking up naturally right around the time your alarm clock is set to go off.
Eliminate the Hidden Elements of Bad Sleep
Many people find that there are certain habits that can be difficult to break in the bedroom. These habits may make you feel comfortable, but they can also rob you of restful sleep.
#1. Get rid of any mobile electronics in the bedroom. Move the TV out of the bedroom. Anything that makes your brain think that it is time to be active should be removed. Your bedroom must be the place where sleep happens.
#2. Avoid doing any work in your bedroom beyond cleaning chores. If you work from home, then work in your living room, dining room, or your home office.
#3. Stop taking stimulants before bed. The two most common stimulants people take that keep them away are caffeine and nicotine. At minimum, avoid having caffeine at least 3 hours before slipping into your bedtime routine. Try to avoid smoking at least 90 minutes before.
#4. Eliminate the nightlights. Anything that makes the bedroom less dark or quiet is going to interfere with your sleep.
Some people need noise to fall asleep. Instead of watching a familiar show or playing the radio in the background, try using a white noise machine.
If you do use music or other noise distractions, set a timer on the device to have it shut off to prevent it from waking you up.
Establish a Healthier Lifestyle to Support Good Sleep
Good sleep happens because of the healthy choices we make throughout each day as well. When you exercise in some way daily and avoid certain foods, you will give yourself the best possible chance of improving your sleep quality.
To avoid daytime fatigue, get rid of as many fatty foods during the day as possible. Processed carbohydrates should also be avoided. Try eating foods that are high in protein or complex carbs instead to avoid blood sugar spikes that will cause you to crash.
Try to avoid sugary foods as well. Sugar, especially when it is combined with caffeine, can give you a temporary feeling of wakefulness. It then forces you to keep consuming more sugars to maintain that feeling.
If you like spicy food, then eat it at lunch. Spicy foods at dinner or supper can cause heartburn at night that will keep you awake.
What you eat during the day contributes to your body’s energy profile as well. Try to eat high energy foods, like apples, bananas, whole grains, and bell peppers to give yourself sustained energy levels. Eat several small meals (5 to 6) throughout the day instead of 2 or 3 large meals.
With your final meal, try to eat foods that are high in the amino acid called tryptophan. Your body turns the amino acid into serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy.
The best foods for tryptophan include poultry, low-fat yogurt, salmon, halibut, avocado, spinach, broccoli, and oats.
Then see if there are ways you can begin to exercise more often. You should be getting about 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.
I’m Still Struggling with Fatigue… Now What?
If you have tried all of these ideas and you are still dealing with severe daytime fatigue, then there is a good chance that you are dealing with a health condition.
There are several different health issues which contribute to strong feelings of fatigue during the day. One of the most common is called obstructive sleep apnea.
With obstructive sleep apnea, your air passageways become blocked when you sleep. This causes you to stop breathing. Your body then creates a jerking reaction to restart the breathing process, which wakes you up.
Some people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea may wake up 30+ times per night. It is tough to get a good night of rest when that is happening!
Addition medical conditions which may affect your sleep include restless leg syndrome, heart disease, nutrient deficiencies, and depression.
A deficiency in magnesium or calcium will make it difficult to get to sleep, and then stay asleep. If you’re not getting enough from the foods you eat, consider taking a supplement to replace the items where you’re experiencing a deficiency.
Try to avoid alcohol before bed whenever possible. Although it acts as a depressant or relaxant for most people, it will disrupt your sleep cycle. It can even prevent you from reaching the restorative rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep.
As a final step, you have your mattress to think about. If your mattress is more than 10 years old, then it may not be supporting your body as effectively as it could be. Replacing your mattress as it ages, in addition to having comfortable bedding to use, can immediately improve the quality of sleep you receive each night.
If you suspect a medical issue is affecting your sleep, then do not attempt to treat it on your own. This guide should be used for informational purposes only. Speaking with your doctor about your concerns will help you begin to develop a treatment plan, which may eventually lead to better sleep for you each night.