“Why am I so tired?”

By Beth Roulston 2018-12-27 17:09:57

I had a moment one day last week when a friend of mine stopped in her tracks and asked herself this question out loud. 

The easy answer to this question could be: you have children! Whether it's an exhausting play date, getting up at your child's insane time of 6 am, chasing after them when they decide to nose dive into a rack of clothing at the mall or simply answering a million "why?" questions. Yes, all of this does take its toll on your body and mind. However, could there be other reasons? Those of us who aren't parents also suffer from this problem and are often completely clueless as to why.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that it's nothing; it's not nothing! Feeling exhausted and mentally drained could be a result of other things going on in your life such as stress or anxiety. But what are the most common reasons for our daily fatigue?

Reason 1: Not getting enough sleep

Now this sounds obvious… but what can you actually do about it? For parents, often you cannot escape getting up earlier than most, or even getting up during the night for those midnight feeds! But ask yourself the following: Are you going to bed really late? Are you scrolling through WeChat when you're supposed to be going to sleep? Watching a movie on your phone whilst lying in bed? Yes? Come on, I think in the 21st century we are all guilty of doing these things. But sadly it's psychologically changing how our bodies behave when we go to bed. So on that note, here are some suggestions to get you into some good behaviours:

  • As a general rule, aim for 7- 8 hours of sleep.

  • Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. This creates a healthy routine and guarantees you'll get the shut eye you need.

  • This is one I know we're all guilty of but please… GET OFF YOUR PHONE! (after you have finished reading this article, of course). 

Despite the advances technology has made with the alterations to remove 'blue light' from your screen, you are still keeping your mind active instead of helping it to shut down. It also means instead of connecting with your partner you are connecting with your piece of technology. Try something radical… Leave your phone in another room and buy an alarm clock! Trust me, you'll get more sleep and you may even improve the mood between the sheets.

Reason 2: Drinking too much caffeine

I am definitely guilty of this one! Now I'm not saying stop drinking coffee, I mean you could do that but if you are reading this and already crying at the thought of it, try to simply limit your caffeine intake to once or twice a day and don't drink anything with caffeine too late into the evening; 5 pm at the latest. Studies have shown that even if you have consumed caffeine 6 hours before going to bed, it reduces your total nights sleep by more than an hour!


Reason 3: Not getting enough exercise


I don't know about you, but I always feel better and sleep better when I've done some form of exercise during the day! It doesn't need to be a full session at the gym or a 5 km run. Side note: it's proven that exercise reduces stress. Less stress = more sleep! Winner!

  • Try to go for a 20 minute walk around where you live, you may even spot new shops or interesting places on your journey.

  • Try a 20 minute yoga session. There are lots of free yoga tutorials on the internet that aren't too strenuous, if you're a beginner, and more difficult ones for our more experienced folks out there.

  • Instead of taking a DiDi or the metro to where you're going, look on your map and see how far it is to walk or cycle! If you have young children this is a great way to encourage them to also stay active.  


Reason 4: Not getting the right nutrition 

Got too much to do at the office? Are your kids’ schedules keeping you too busy? No time? Sadly these excuses cannot rule our lives… it's causing us to rely upon quick solutions that in the long run ruin our bodies and make us unnecessarily sick. So instead of reaching for your instant noodles that contain a lot of salt or your "healthy" granola bars that are packed full of sugar, try putting aside 10 minutes to prepare yourself something filling and nutritional.

  • Oatmeal contains great slow-releasing carbohydrates and will give you lots of energy until lunch.

  • Try making a fresh vegetable juice with a small dose of fruit – see Juicing for health for ideas.

  • Salad with nuts, grains, fish/tofu and a portion of fruit for vitamins.

  • A bowl of stir-fried vegetables with chicken or tofu which can be made the night before and doesn't take long.

  • If you have a craving, snack on nuts or raw vegetables in between meals.


Reason 5: Not getting enough water


Some of these reasons may seem slightly simplistic and perhaps they have been said to you before.  However, it is very easy to forget to look after your own healthy habits when your attention is being applied to your child. Whilst you are plying your child with water it is important that you do not neglect your own health requirements. When you don't drink enough water many things can happen to your body: dry skin, joint pain, longer recovery from sickness. Remember that your body borrows hydration from your blood which leads to a lack of oxygen and therefore fatigue and hunger pangs!

So, create the habit! Do as the Chinese do and carry a water bottle that you can refill. The general advice from medical professionals is 2 litres or 8 ounce glasses per day. If you're not a big fan of water, try drinking peppermint, oolong or green tea to rehydrate. These are both tasty and great sources of antioxidants to revitalise you to be the best parent Shanghai has ever seen!