Returning to work from vacation or time off is always a bit of an adjustment. It can be somewhat painful, after spending time away from the desk or screen, but vacations give you a chance to refresh and come back more energized. But how can you avoid feeling so tired again?
Turns out, it’s not all about getting eight hours of shut eye: there are several different factors that can be contributing to fatigue and exhaustion. Check out these common explanations for your inescapable tiredness, along with a few clever strategies to get you bouncing with energy again.
Separating sleepiness from fatigue
It may seem like splitting hairs, but there’s a difference between sleepiness and fatigue. Understanding the difference will help you better remedy your sleepiness or fatigue appropriately.
Sleepiness is related to the quality and quantity of the sleep you enjoy (or don’t). Those who feel consistently sleepy can typically fall asleep or take a nap at any point of the day. This is somewhat easier to deal with than fatigue because you can tweak your schedule to get more pillow time. But if you’re struggling with insomnia or other sleep hygiene issues, you may need to see a specialist, or check out these herbal teas for sleep.
On the other side of the coin is fatigue. Fatigue is a consistent and nagging feeling of exhaustion that is marked by low energy and motivation. Having a stressful week at work is nothing to be overly concerned with, but habitual and persistent feelings of low motivation and exhaustion need to be addressed.
Fatigue can be hard to address because of its breadth of causes: medical, environmental, and circumstantial. Each has its own treatment, which can make getting better feel elusive.
Physical causes of fatigue
There are a number of physical health issues that can lead to fatigue, with sleep apnea and insomnia chief among them. Thyroid dysfunction and vitamin deficiency are also common causes of fatigue.
Other common physical causes of fatigue include anemia, endocrine disorders, IBS, autoimmune disorders, pregnancy, certain medications, heart and lung diseases, and obesity.
Many of these physical causes of fatigue impact health beyond just feeling energized. Other causes require blood work to identify. Talk to your doctor to look into anemia, endocrine disorders, and medication side effects.
Mental connections to fatigue
Mental health is inextricably linked to fatigue and sleep health. Those struggling with depression are typically more sleepy, while anxiety sufferers are often too awake with nervous energy to sleep.
Depression mirrors many of the same feelings of fatigue, like low energy and low motivation. To separate between the two, gauge interest in doing activities: those with depression will likely have no interest in doing things while those with fatigue will maintain interest in the face of exhaustion.
On the other hand, anxiety creates a feeling of “tired but wired” where individuals have low energy and lack motivation while being too restless to fall into a deep sleep. Those struggling with depression and anxiety should take appropriate steps, like exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, and communicating with their doctor for the best treatment.
Other causes of fatigue
Fatigue doesn’t have to be caused by a medical issue. There are many environmental or circumstantial situations that can leave you begging for sleep. Work or family-life stress can contribute heavily to fatigue, as can a poor diet, binge drinking, and smoking.
Your sleeping environment can also impact your fatigue levels: be sure your room is quiet, dark, clean, and comfortable to enjoy the most restful sleep. You may be sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours, but your sleep environment could be hindering your ability to get a high-quality seven to nine hours.
How to boost your energy levels
The best strategy to feel more energized starts with identifying what’s causing your fatigue. For many issues, like sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety, it’s important to talk with your doctor or a medical professional to determine how best to help you.
For more common or easily treated issues, it’s important to reflect on your current habits and routines to assess if there are any areas where you could be healthier or eliminate unnecessary stress. It may sound counterintuitive, but working in 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine will do wonders for your mental and physical health. And that little bit of extra hard work can go a long way in getting you to enjoy a restful sleep at night.
To combat stress, it’s important to set boundaries. With today’s digital, always-on work culture, it can be difficult to step away from the keyboard and decompress. Communicate with your teams and colleagues to set boundaries and expectations for when to hear from you. It’ll help them be more reasonable and keep your stress levels lower!
If poor sleep is the main driver of your fatigue, try sticking to a more rigid sleep schedule and improving your diet. In conjunction with exercise, these three tactics will work wonders for your energy levels.
Fatigue and sleepiness don’t have to weigh you down. Assess your daily routine to find out where you can be healthier and improve to enjoy higher energy levels and get the most out of your day!