If you find yourself constantly tired, jumping from one caffeine buzz to the next just to make it through the day, you’re not alone.
Along with stretch marks, cellulite and stress, fatigue affects more women than it does men (it must have something to do with our mastery of multitasking).
So what causes long-term lethargy?
We’ve done some digging and found six primary causes of exhaustion, and the best ways to beat them.
The culprit: You’re not getting enough sleep
Every night you keep yourself up, compulsively checking email and watching Sex in the City reruns, and every morning you regret it. It’s the most obvious challenge “ luckily it has just as simple a solution.
The fix: Start small “ try turning in 10 minutes earlier than your late-night usual, and gradually bump up the time until you hit a mark that works well for you.
The culprit: You’re dehydrated
That pre-dinner cocktail doesn’t count “ we need ample fluids throughout the day to keep our bodies and minds in top shape. At the end of the day, even mild dehydration can cause sleepiness, headaches and lack of energy.
The fix: If regular old Toronto tap doesn’t tickle your fancy, pretty up your water with some lemon, lime or cucumber slices. Or pick sparkling for a little kick. Purchasing a cute refillable bottle is another way to encourage consumption, plus it cuts out wasteful plastic, too.
The culprit: You’re stressed
Tension and anxiety are the primary causes of insomnia. Whether you’re worried about next month’s bills or tomorrow’s presentation, even the smallest bug in your brain can cause you to lose sleep.
The fix: Set aside at least an hour of quiet time leading up to bed “ take a bath, read a book, do some calming yoga stretches, have a cup of chamomile tea or tuck a pouch of lavender inside your pillowcase.
The culprit: You’re eating poorly
You start the day with an extra-large latté© and it all goes downhill from there “ a pastry for the midmorning slump, another coffee, a fast, fried lunch, another coffee and then a too-large and too-late dinner. And you wonder why you feel gross.
The fix: Your mother was right: a proper breakfast is essential. It gets your body and your brain going strong, keeps your metabolism revved and actually influences you to keep making healthy choices throughout the day.
To keep energy levels up, cut back on the coffee and carbs, which only take you up so they can bring you down, and make sure to eat as much fruit and veg as you can “ pack apples, carrot sticks and broccoli spears for easy snacks. Protein “ in the form of chicken, fish, nuts and whole grains like quinoa “ will also help to keep you focused.
The culprit: You’re not active enough
Exercise boosts production of endorphins and adrenaline, which get you pumped up and feeling good. It also increases blood flow to the brain, making you more alert and productive (read: less tired).
The fix: It seems counterintuitive, but it works: if you feel too tired to exercise, fight it.
Just 20 minutes of activity “ whether it’s a quick walk at lunch or a post-work jog “ will heighten your energy levels and make you feel much better.
The culprit: You’re feeling run down
Though spring is on its way, cold and flu season actually last until April. If you’re getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well but still feel drained, chances are you might be coming down with something.
The fix: Try taking a day off to rest and relax. Give your body a chance to recover, and help the process along by adding extra vitamin C and iron to your diet.