I imagine we’ve all been in the following situation: you start a new job, and suddenly it takes so much of your energy that it becomes literally all you do. You’re asking yourself, “why am I so tired all the time?” Pretty soon, you aren’t working out anymore, and you haven’t even dreamed of making it into your local CrossFit box for one of thoseeeee workouts.
I get it. It really is tough to be mentally focusing for an entire workday, and still have desire and drive to do basically anything else. I’ve seen people in our box have this go on. Close friends who are young and you’d imagine just like the Energizer Bunny. It got me thinking, “Ok, so this is a problem people I really care about face. How can we solve it?”
Let’s start solving it.
First, why are you so tired?
There are a lot of influences on your life that can be forcing you to feel like you’re walking around in some sort of daze all the time.
1. You aren’t sleeping at least 7 hours per night
This is number one on the list for a reason. If you don’t get enough sleep, none of this other stuff will matter at all. You could do every fix I talk about, and you still won’t feel much better. Sleep at least seven hours every single night. If you can make eight or nine happen, even better.
2. You aren’t hydrating enough
Water is seriously a God-send. Not only does it allow you to workout harder and longer, but it also gives you mental clarity. Have you ever noticed how much better you feel in the morning after a big glass of water? No? Oh, you don’t drink water when you wake up? That’s step 1. Step 2, drink a glass every couple of hours. If you feel thirsty, congrats, you’re in a mild state of dehydration.
3. You aren’t eating enough food
I’ve been on a kick this week about not under-eating in an attempt to lose weight/lean out. I must have had three separate, equally animated conversations with clients this week about why under-eating is such a bad choice. Outside of the effect it has on your metabolism and ability to build muscle, under-eating also makes your blood sugar plummet.
True, you don’t want constantly elevated blood sugar. That leads to diabetes. Once you get diabetes, it leads to hyperglycemia. You don’t want hyperglycemia. However, on the flip side, constantly low blood sugar isn’t good, either. You want your blood sugar to stay relatively constant. The best way to do this is to eat every 3 or 4 hours, and to focus on protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
4. You’re drinking too much caffeine
This one is even more strange that the under-eating thing. “Wait,” you say, “I thought caffeine was supposed to wake me up??” This is true. It does. To a point. When you drink too much caffeine, your body does a few things.
For one, it makes you need to use the restroom. This will dehydrate you. See step two for the problem there. Second, eventually your body is working to get caffeine out of your system (once you’ve had too much) which will also make you more tired than alert.
So what should you do to address this?
It actually is fairly simple to fix all of the aforementioned problems. I said simple, but certainly not easy.
1. You don’t get enough sleep
This is actually the simplest, and also most difficult problem to solve. It is logical. Simply go to bed easier, and when you go to bed, actually go to bed. Don’t stay up checking Instagram or Facebook. Don’t watch TV. Don’t do anything but sleep. And go to bed at a time which allows you to sleep at least seven hours before your alarm goes off.
In practice, this is way harder than it seems. Your friends want to go out to watch XYZ game. You are swamped at work and have to stay late/get in early. Your family is growing and you have to get up with your baby. Whatever it is, there are always things popping up. The best you can do is control as much as you can, and make sleep a priority.
2. Bring a water bottle with you everywhere you go
Some people say to set phone reminders to drink water. I look at my phone enough as it is. I prefer to just carry a decent sized water bottle with me, and when it’s empty, I fill it back up and drink it again. Simple.
3. Have food on hand so you aren’t starving or stuffed
Try to eat every 3 to 4 hours, or so, and include a complex carbohydrate (fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, potatoes, rice) plus a protein and a fat whenever you eat. This will stabilize your blood sugar and not leave you feeling that horrible sugar crash after that candy bar you scarfed down because it was all you could possibly get.
4. Space out your caffeine intake
I’ve found a good way to kick my constant coffee habit. First, get a smaller mug. This way you aren’t having two servings every time you drink a cup. Second, I’ve started just committing to a pattern: one cup when I first get to work, one cup after lunch, and one serving of caffeine right before my workout. Three servings does fine for me in one day, so figure out what works for you and stick to it. If you get jitters, EVER, you know you’ve gone too far. Time to cut back.