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Why You're Always Tired (and how to fix it)

The Ultimate Guide to Feeling Less Tired

1. Are you getting enough sleep?

7-8 hours consistently is optimal. Most people average less than 6 hours a night which places them in a state that can be considered cognitively drunk. Less than 4 hours of sleep is even worse.

2. What is your chronotype?

People will either fall in one of two categories. That is the early bird and the night owl. Your body is coded with a natural circadian rhythm that may not be reflected by the schedule you're attempting to implement.

3. Change your alarm sound.

Melodic alarms like those that play music not only reduce perceived sleep inertia and tiredness in the mornings. They also improve psychomotor abilities and reduce attention issues as compared to neutral alarms.

4. Don't hit snooze.

Your body releases hormones that increase your body's temperature, lead to a light sleep cycle, increase dopamine, and cortisol. Alarms cut this process short which is why you feel tired. Hitting the snooze button is like telling your body to start another sleep cycle towards deep sleep which will make you feel even more tired.

5. Move around when you get up.

Moving for even 30 seconds has been proven to show an increase in perceived alertness in the morning. Participants felt more alert, but were not proven to be more alert when participating in morning exercise.

6. Expose yourself to bright light in the morning.

Sunlight is the best, but bright artificial light can stimulate wakefulness. Try to be outside in sunlight for at least 30 minutes a day. If you're having trouble falling asleep experts recommend you spend 1 hour in daylight during the day and that you turn the lights down at night.

7. Hydration.

A glass of water first thing in the morning improves concentration and alertness. Your mood and cognitive abilities are improved.

8. Caffeine.

Your body naturally accumulates adenosine throughout the day making you feel tired. Caffeine blocks these receptors when you get tired. When you regularly use caffeine, your body creates more receptors requiring more caffeine to have the same effect. Caffeine can be okay, just pay attention to how close you're having it to bedtime. Caffeine has a half life of six hours. So that means that in 6 hours, there will still be 50% of it in your body.

9. Diet.

Whole food diets are correlated with higher energy levels while processed foods make people feel more tired. High sugar and low fiber diets impact non-rem sleep quality and as a result lead to more awakenings at night.

10. Exercise.

Exercise increased total sleep time especially non-rem and increases the overall quality of sleep on average. This means that subjective alertness improves and the time it takes participants to fall asleep decreased with fewer waking times at night.

One thing to note here is that exercise and sleep aren't always consistent on a day-to-day basis, so if you worked out hard today, that doesn't mean that you'll feel those benefits at night. This is about long-term changes.

11. Take naps.

20 to 30 minute naps have been shows to increase productivity, cognitive function, memory, creativity, and make people feel less tired. Be careful that you do not take a nap longer than 30 minutes in order to prevent yourself from going into deep sleep. If you desire to take a longer nap, go for one that is around 1.5 hours which is a full sleep cycle. Here you're more likely to wake up out of light sleep and not deep sleep.

12. Limit alcohol consumption.

Alcohol is sleep's worst enemy. Alcohol reduces rem sleep and keeps you in lighter stages of sleep, impaired breathing, wakes you up in the middle of the night when the effects have worn off, and lead to hangovers.

13. Environment.

Sleep is ideal in a dark, cool environment without distractions. Even checking the time in the middle of the night can cause anxiety and a cortisol spike which can make it harder to go to sleep.

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