You know those days where your normal morning cup of coffee just won’t do the trick? You’re sitting at your desk with emails up to your eyeballs and you just can’t find the energy to complete your tasks for the day. Where does this fatigue come from? It doesn’t happen all the time and you usually eat quite healthy, but sometimes you really struggle getting started in the morning.
Getting enough sleep isn’t the only factor in feeling fresh and ready to conquer the day. It plays a part, but there are plenty of things in your daily life that can affect your energy levels.
1. Not enough quality sleep
The quality of your sleep is just as essential as the quantity. Taking naps during the day is a culprit of disrupting your circadian rhythm and can lead to poor nighttime sleep. If you like to take afternoon naps, try to keep it to 20-30 minutes, as anything longer than that can disrupt your sleep cycle.
2. Too much caffeine
This pairs with #1 because consuming too much caffeine can prevent your body from relaxing into a deep, REM sleep. The FDA recommends not to consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day, the equivalent of 4-5 cups of coffee.
Also, become aware of the time that you drink your last cup of caffeine for the day. Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, so if you have trouble falling asleep at night, try ditching that last 4 p.m. cup of coffee and see if that helps.
3. Not enough protein
Studies have shown that eating high-protein foods such as eggs, beans, fish, or meat can significantly reduce levels of fatigue. Why? Protein boosts your metabolic rate even more than carbs do, so your body is working hard burning more fat and using that as energy.
The branched-chain amino acids (building blocks of protein) help you stay alert and help you maintain steady blood sugar levels.
It is very common to feel fatigued if you are not eating enough protein and overconsuming carbohydrates (see #5!)
4. Food sensitivities
Two common symptoms of food sensitivity are fatigue and digestive problems. Fatigue is often overlooked because it is a mild symptom, but even a very small allergy can lead to chronic fatigue. Mild food allergies can make you feel foggy, sluggish, or tired.
If you often feel sluggish after eating, take note of what you have just eaten and try eliminating certain ingredients to see if you can identify the allergy. If you are unable to identify the allergy, consider working with an allergy specialist.
Some common food allergens are wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, and shellfish.
5. Too many carbs (especially refined)
Carbohydrates are a quick source of energy because they are easily converted into sugar. However, this causes spikes in blood sugar and can leave you crashing in the middle of the day. *Cue that 4 p.m. coffee*
Eating nutritious meals with a better balance of protein, fiber, and carbs may help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent that afternoon crash.
Taking note of these five factors during your daily routine might help you notice a habit that is contributing to your fatigue, but you can also see a naturopath or holistic doctor for help diagnosing causes of chronic fatigue.
Looking for more tips to support your overall wellness? Subscribe to our monthly email newsletter to receive fresh content about healthy lifestyle habits delivered straight to your inbox. Also, check out our recent post on 10 tips for achieving better sleep.