If you are one of those who suffered from chronic fatigue, that is, you plow through the day with a cloud of inertia and lethargy hanging over your head, you should read this carefully.
You may be wondering why this happens to me, even though I'm sure to get a reasonable amount of sleep for at least seven to eight hours?
Heck, you can even go over the recommended eight hours, but still struggle to rise and shine every morning.
Many people who suffer from persistent exhaustion are going to be sentenced to a lifetime that is always asked by friends and co-workers: "Why do you look so tired today?"
It doesn't have to be like this.
By asking yourself three questions about your lifestyle patterns and choices – and not just those related to sleep – you will get a better idea of what deprives you of the vitality needed to push through the daily life of the Energizer rabbit.
Do I eat the right food?
What you eat probably seems completely unrelated to fatigue levels, but just remember the last time you had a large plate of goreng for lunch on a working day.
Did you get back to the office and felt everyone dismissed to complete the high work awaiting your desk?
Or do you need to get a cup of coffee just to find it an hour later, are you trying to be productive, but are actually struggling to keep your eyes open?
Foods that are high in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and even caffeine are not ideal for balancing our energy levels.
The effects are temporary, giving you a short lack of high energy, but any increase comes with an inevitable fall.
Your body must constantly pick up the pieces, and it requires energy, both physically and mentally.
Considering that some of us eat up to five meals a day (including tea and dinner), if you take poor food choices, it's no wonder you feel tired all day!
Such foods also lack nutrients that enhance your body and improve the immune system, and therefore you consume calories without much of the benefits.
This entails a risk of weight gain and obesity, which can also lead to you becoming quieter.
So put that kuih talam down and pick up a piece of guava instead. The fiber in the fruit will keep you full for a long time and it is much lower in calories.
It never hurts to remind you to do other similar types of healthier substitutions for the rest of your meals can help you feel lighter and more alert throughout the day.
Do I get enough exercise?
If exercise covers a person, why would anyone recommend exercise to reduce fatigue?
Insomnia studies indicate that light to moderate exercise of about 30 minutes daily does not help you fall asleep faster, but also improves the quality of your nightly sleep.
Although it is not entirely clear why exercise helps improve sleep quality, we know why it helps to increase alertness.
Many physiological processes occur when you exercise yourself by walking, running, and doing other moderate activities.
Hearts pump faster, blood circulates through your system and body temperature increases.
Hormones like endorphins are released and send signals to your body and brain.
Bodies like the latter greatly benefit from exercise; It has been noted that exercise seems to increase cognitive function and alertness, as well as the size of the hippocampus – that part of your brain where memory and learning activities are stored.
Research in the world's highest health care institution continues to grow in support of being physically active, and you don't even need expensive equipment to do so.
Making light for moderate exercise (running, running or cycling) at least three to four times a week for 30 minutes can improve heart health, relieve depression and anxiety, strengthen joint muscles and perhaps even combat dementia.
The growth in the fitness industry in Malaysia also means that gym membership and fitness classes have become more affordable, and you are spoiled for choice when it comes to fitness activities, whether it's cycling, yoga, boxing, intensive interval training (HIIT) or others.
Do I sleep properly?
Now that we have covered diet and activity levels in our personal lifestyle, we also need to look at our sleep habits – yes there is a right and a wrong way to sleep that goes beyond getting your eight hour shuteye every night!
To begin with, the body works better when you have fine-tuned your sleep habits, winding down from the day and falling asleep at the same time every night.
Having an endless list of chores makes it a challenge to be consistent on that front, but a reasonable start is to get 7.5 hours of sleep each night.
Determine what time you have to be up in the morning, and then subtract 7.5 hours to determine what time you should be cast under the covers, on the way to dreamland.
In 7.5 hours, the average person cycles through the 90-minute sleep interval five times, alternating between light or non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and depth or REM sleep.
If you are interrupted during a deep sleep phase, chances are that you wake up as if you have barely slept.
The point of regulating your sleeping and waking times is that your body watch is so well acclimated to your routine that you eventually wake up naturally in the morning without having to hear the alarm go off.
Adjust your bedtime by moving it 15 minutes earlier each time until you find your sweet spot.
Keep the sleeping routine consistent, and you may find yourself more alert and work better.
Getting a good night's sleep includes prepping properly for the bed as well.
Young or old, we are so glued to our gadgets nowadays, poring over social media and games on our phones, even when we have climbed into the bed in a dark bedroom.
If there is a TV in the room, it may also emit another source of blue light that erroneously signals the brain that it is daytime, which suppresses the production of melatonin.
This hormone is released when your circadian rhythm kicks in, but when these blue wavelengths turn your night rhythm out of synchronization, it leads to poor sleep quality and is also linked to increased risks of cancer, diabetes and other conditions.
This is sad news for the night owls among us!
When you are ready to adapt to better sleep habits, here are some tips to help you succeed:
• Keep the caffeine intake early in the evening.
This includes duck mines, soft drinks, tea, energy bars and even chocolate.
You don't need an increase in energy when you come in for the night.
• Fix a "wind down" period before your current sleep.
Assign one hour for all your activities before bed, ie skin care and dental practice.
Consider playing soft music and using aromatherapy to make sleeping even more appealing.
• Use white sound to absorb other sounds that can interfere with your sleep.
White noise is a low and consistent background sound that helps drown out sudden loud noises that occur at night, such as honking from a car, loud music from a slight neighbor or barking dogs.
Your air conditioning unit can double up as a white noise machine, or you can buy a white noise machine.
• Keep your room dark.
This can be the toughest to get right, because it means breaking your abuse of electronic gadgets.
Not only does the artificial light trick your brain into thinking that it is still time and hampers melatonin levels, the concentrated light from your phone or tablet screen can impair vision by damaging eye clips and retina over time.
So, if you've done everything above and still can't find any improvement in your sleep quality – could it be something else?
Yes. Problems with sleeping well can indicate underlying sleep problems that require medical treatment.
Not sleeping well can be a symptom of sleep apnea, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiency and other health problems.
If the sleep problems persist, do not ignore the signs and contact your doctor for further advice.