I’ve now been a mother to small humans with irrational and unpredictable sleep patterns for nearly six years now. Over this time my own personal tiredness has not been too difficult to attribute to a cause.
The thing is, for the past few weeks there have been a more than usual amount of nights where I have gone to bed early, anticipating a night shift, then found myself jumping awake at a civilized time wondering what just happened.
Whilst I can’t deny this feels amazing, I was kind of hoping that was it for tiredness now, but no – my days are still as prone to ups, downs, slumps, peaks, troughs, dips and drops as ever. This got me thinking about types of tiredness and how they might come about. It seems there is more than one type of tired and more ways to solve them than just good old-fashioned kip.
Here are a few “tiredness types” to consider if you are consistently craving zzzzz’s:
TEARY TIRED WITH CRAVINGS
The solution could be: Regulating your blood sugar levels
At the extreme end of the scale, this type of tiredness could be associated with diabetes so it is always worth seeing a doctor for a test if this is a regularly occurring state of being for you. Even without this condition though, fluctuations in blood sugars can create a rollercoaster of tiredness and emotions. The best way of evening this out is to avoid those pesky refined carbs (you know them by now, the white breads and sugary processed foods). They give you a little hit that lures you into a false sense of security, as what goes up must come down.
The solution could be: A more mindful approach to sleep and magnesium
Other symptoms of this kind of tiredness could be a diminishing sex drive and weight gain and this does tend to be the “not enough sleep” variety. We live in a kind of world that pushes us to maximize our daily output. The irony is however, there is a cut off point where adding more to the to-do list is counter productive – everything done after this point will take longer and be prone to mistakes. Even super humans can only do so much! Taking time to really understand your cut-off point can help you become more rather than less effective. Supplementing your diet with magnesium can also be helpful as it helps to relax muscles and nerves to ease that shut down.
LETHARGIC TIRED (and a bit pale and dizzy maybe?):
The solution could be: Getting more iron in your diet
There is a lesser-known link between our caffeine intake and our absorption of iron, so the solution is not just to boost our intake of iron rich foods but also to cut the caffeine at the same time. Great sources of iron are beans, pulses, kale and lean red meat.
The solution could be: Mental relaxation
At the extreme end of the scale, this type of tiredness can be related to depression, so if you are experiencing a combination of fatigue with anxiety, lack of concentration, loss of appetite and headaches, it is worth exploring this with a professional. If it feels less severe, it may well be that you are in need of a bit of mental rest. This can be anything from meditation to conscious breathing to taking time out to read or do something that forces some escapism into your mental state.
SLUGGISH TIRED (and maybe gaining weight):
The solution could be: A blood test for an underperforming thyroid
This type of tiredness can be linked to an underperforming thyroid, particularly if accompanied with hair loss. If you are feeling like this consistently a blood test can deliver a swift diagnosis. Professional medical support is essential here and also exercise to increase circulation and an increased intake of iodine rich foods like kale, cranberries, strawberries and potatoes.
So maybe it’s not always as simple as an early night and a cup of cocoa. AlI I can say is, long may my children sleep through the night, as that’s one cause I’m happy to cross off the list of possibilities.
Note: Should you be feeling lethargic and fatigued more often than not, do consult your doctor.