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7 Shocking Reasons You Lack Energy

April 21, 2015 4 min read

If you have a hard time getting out of bed, feel sluggish all day and then rely on sugar to get through that afternoon slump, you aren't alone. 1 in 5 people complain of feeling drained while 10 percent of people who visit their GP do so because of tiredness. Only half of these people are diagnosed with a medical issue (like lack of iron or a thyroid condition). Tiredness is more likely attributed to lifestyle issues that can be solved by a few simple changes. Here are 7 reasons you may be so tired:

1. You're a perfectionist

Perfectionist spend more time worrying and ruminating over their decisions. According to Professor Irene Levine, of New York University-Langone School of Medicine, "individuals who are perfectionistic tend to always worry about whether or not they are doing the right thing, doing something good enough, constantly second-guessing themselves. Instead of moving forward with a task, they obsessively circle back, ruminating about whether they are performing well enough." Sounds exhausting to me. She goes on to say, "the constant self-doubt may propel individuals towards anxiety and depression because they feel as if they are never able to achieve success." Although traits like perfectionism are mostly hard wired, insight into your behaviour can be beneficial. Levine suggests that cognitive behaviour therapy may help.

2. You're drinking too much coffee

Coffee is a stimulant and it sends messages to the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Drinking coffee and tea triggers the same stress response as being in imminent physical danger says Dr Marilyn Glenville, a nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible for Women. One cup makes you feel alert and energized but then the blood sugar crashes and you feel tired, reaching for another cup and starting the cycle all over again. You chase your energy all day long. Cutting out caffeine will increase your energy in the long run but if you are a big time coffee drinker, don't go cold turkey. Many of us (and I'm including myself here) are addicted to the caffeine and should cut it out slowly to avoid crazy side effects like headaches. The-Surprising-Reason-You-re-Always-Tired

3. You're eating too many comfort carbs

Filling up on bread, pasta, rice -- not mention biscuits and chocolate, causes blood sugar to go up and down and can leave you nodding off in the afternoon. Dr. Glenville says that processed carbohydrates "are high GI foods, they hit the bloodstream too fast, so they give a quick rise in blood sugar, then levels drop and they come crashing down." She also says that because people are filling up on carbs, they may not be eating other, more nourishing foods so this feeling of exhaustion may come from not getting enough nutrients. Try eating low GI foods that release energy more slowly. Eat smaller portions more often to help stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. And don't forget your nutrient rich fruits and vegetables!

4. You have menstrual associated sleep disorder

Studies show that many women have a difficult time sleeping at different points in their menstrual cycle. Women often toss and turn and experience daytime sleepiness in the luteal or premenstrual phase of her cycle – the 11 days before her period is due. Some women even experience more severe sleep disorders like insomnia (lack of sleep), hypersomnia (excess sleep) or parasomnias (which include problems like sleepwalking, sleep paralysis confusional arousals and sleep terrors) during this time. These sleep troubles are due to a drop in hormones at this time. GP's usually treat this with a contraceptive pill to level out hormones. Some women may also have low levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which can also be prescribed by your GP. Tired businesswoman

5. You're not eating enough protein

Lots of people lack energy after lunch, a few hours before dinner, because they are not eating enough protein says Nicola Shubrook, a nutritionist at UrbanWellness clinic in London. Protein is broken down more slowly in the body so the energy is released more slowly making you feel fuller longer. Shubrook recommends eating protein throughout the day to keep energy levels stable. Eat at least a palm sized serving of protein with meals and snack on nuts and seeds throughout the day. Good sources of protein include: meat, fish, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, nuts, and seeds.

6. You have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes

Tiredness, vision problems, insatiable thirst, peeing often and frequent infections could be signs of undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Treatment of type 2 diabetes involves regular exercise, a healthy diet and sometimes medication to prevent high blood sugar levels. Treatment is designed to maintain blood glucose levels to avoid the risk of complications such as blindness, nerve damage, ulcers and amputation.

7. You have low levels of testosterone

In men, tiredness (along with hair loss, loss of libido and difficulty concentrating) might be caused by low levels of testosterone. When levels drop, it can cause a loss of muscle mass, so the sufferer would feel tired whenever they do any physical activity, says Dr Mark Vanderpump, consultant endocrinologist at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Low testosterone, caused by hypogonadism, affects 5 in 1,000 men. Although the cause isn't known, it could be genetic. It is possible to have testosterone replacement therapy to reverse symptoms and restore muscle strength but it will not reverse the underlying cause. What are your thoughts? Do you think any of these could be the cause of your afternoon exhaustion?

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