If you’re constantly feeling tired and run down, it may not be for the reasons you tell yourself. You’re probably not lazy, or boring. The reason may be you’re not getting the fuel you need to energize your life!
Here are 3 surprising reasons why you’re tired:
1. You’re Not Sleeping or Resting Enough
This may seem obvious, but many people are sleep-deprived and don’t even know it. We may think we need to keep pushing through our tiredness because we have to get everything on our to-do list done, but we simply need more rest. When we don’t listen to our body’s cues for rest and output, we get out of balance.
Our bodies have natural ebbs and flows of energy like circadian, infraradian, and ultradian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the sleep-wake cycles we go through in a 24-hour period. Going for 72 hours without sleep is enough to encourage a psychotic break in even the soundest of minds. We need sleep to repair damages, recalibrate our organs, and reset our chemistry. Infraradian rhythms are rhythms that take longer than a day, such as a menstrual cycle, which can also be altered by circadian rhythm disturbance, stress, and poor nutrition.
Ultradian rhythms last 90-120 minutes. They are commonly referred to in the different stages of the sleep cycle, but we also have them for periods of productivity and rest required throughout the day. It’s no coincidence that labor unions require a break every two hours. When we take even a 5-10 minute break during work cycles, we increase our productivity because we work with our body’s natural need to check in with itself.
Just like getting stronger happens in the recuperation period after a workout, sleep and rest help us absorb and integrate our experiences so that we learn and grow. We need sleep to help us feel recharged and rejuvenated for the next day’s activities. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep! We typically need 8-9 hours of sleep for optimum functioning. Some of us are naturally inclined to break the 8-9 hours into two sleep cycles with a waking cycle in between, but it still averages to around the same amount.
2. You’re Avoiding Food Because You Want to Lose Weight
Lack of nutrition – calories, essential fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals – can make us fatigued. Starving ourselves only slows our metabolisms down and robs us of the energy we need to live our lives. Our bodies need fuel!
Instead of avoiding food, be smarter about food. Give yourself enough. Choose nutrients over toxins for your unique body. What may be nourishing to one person’s body can be toxic to another’s. It’s not simply what you put in, but how your particular body processes and uses the items you ingest and imbibe.
This doesn’t mean you should have a restrictive diet. Rather, it means following the principles of Dynamic Eating Psychology and allowing yourself to receive pleasure from your food while being present to the experience. If those sparkling marshmallow candies during Easter are associated with happy memories, by all means, this is psychological nourishment. Just pay attention to how your body responds. Your body will give you messages about whether what you eat is nourishing or toxic.
One of our goals at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating is that you will feel empowered to decide what your body’s signals mean to you. The important part is that you don’t starve yourself of what feeds you—body, mind, heart, and soul. When we feel nourished, we are energized!
3. You Don’t Have a Clear Purpose for Your Life
Oftentimes, when we don’t have a mission, a great reason for why we are here and how we want to spend our life force, we get a little down, sluggish, apathetic, or even depressed. This makes us feel tired and we think the issue is fatigue itself — but the fatigue is really a symptom of something larger, not the problem itself. The fatigue may be illuminating a dearth of meaning. When we don’t have a clear purpose, we spend our energy looking for meaning in many places, only to be left dissatisfied. We’re not being fed by what we value most.
Slow down to listen to what’s important. When we know what makes life meaningful for us, we can prioritize where we spend our energy, and that keeps us in a vital state of being. Our choices are informed by what we value most, and this continues to energize us. When we’re motivated by a purpose, we are selective about how we spend our energy. We honor the limits of our embodied form and allow sleep, nutrients, and valued living to fill us up.
If you are unsure of your purpose, ask yourself what you would prioritize if you only had a month to live. What would be easy to let go of, and what would you hold onto for dear life? What stamp do you want to make on the planet in your lifetime? What gets you fired up for change?
Each of us is unique in what we value, but we know we value something when we feel empty without it, and energized when we prioritize it. Once you know what your purpose is, go live it! Or at least, take steps toward it. You’ll be amazed by how much energy is freed within you.