Waking up exhausted? Here are five reasons why

Do you often wake up almost as tired as when you went to sleep? Discover five reasons why you are exhausted in the morning, and what to do about it.

Tiredness and exhaustion related complaints have now become so common, that doctors now use the abbreviation TATT – an acronym for Tired All The Time syndrome, to refer to people claiming to never feel sufficiently energised or awake despite having had the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night.

In this article, John Dreyer, Optometric Consultant at Contactlenses.co.uk reveals the most common causes of chronic fatigue, ranging from simply not staying hydrated enough to serious medical conditions that may require medical attention.

1) Nutritional deficiencies 

Findings from the recent National Diet and Nutrition survey (NDNS) – the largest survey to assess dietary habits in the UK, reveal that almost half of girls aged 11 to 18, and more than a quarter of women aged 19 to 64 are not getting the minimum intakes of iron recommended for good health.

It seems to be that women suffer from iron deficiency more than men, with young boys under five and men older than 65 being the main age groups affected, with only a total of 15% of all males not meeting the daily iron requirements.

Low Iron levels can be due to not eating the right foods – if you have a low iron diet over a prolonged period, this can also be the cause of iron deficiency. Simply make some dietary changes, such as intruding some dark green leafy plants like curly kale or watercress, iron fortified cereals and bread, and red meat.

If you are lacking in energy, including red meat within your diet is important. Your body finds it six times easier to use the haem iron in steak compared to the non-haem iron in spinach.

If left untreated, iron deficiency can have more serious consequences. A lack of iron prevents your red blood cells from carrying sufficient oxygen to your muscles and tissues, which can cause symptoms that affect your quality of life: Tiredness, shortness of breath, headaches, and dizziness.

A simple blood test can determine whether you have low iron levels. As mentioned previously, most people can boost their iron stores with iron-rich foods or supplements. However, others may require iron infusions which are prescribed by a healthcare professional.

2) Low blood sugar levels 

Hypoglycaemia, the biological term for what most of us know as low blood sugar, is a fall in blood sugar to levels below normal, typically below 70 mg/dL. This is most commonly affects those with diabetes have produced too much insulin.

However, low blood sugar can also occur in non-diabetics, with one cause being too much alcohol intake. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood stream from the stomach or the small intestine, is carried through the body and delivered to the liver. As such, the liver prioritises dealing with the alcohol in the body, meaning that it doesn’t have time to convert stored glycogen into glucose (sugar), which is needed to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Luckily there’s an easy way to avoid this from happenings – stop binge drinking! One class of wine with a meal every now and then isn’t harmful, so the key is the keep all things in moderation.

3) Low blood pressure (can be caused by acute stress) 

Low blood pressure on its own is no cause for concern. However, if you notice frequent side effects such as light-headedness/dizziness when standing up, blurred vision, or believe intense fatigue is affecting your day-to-day life, then it is advised that you seek out a professional opinion. It is normal nonetheless, for low blood pressure to develop later in life, mainly affecting those over the age of 65.

There has also been a link established between low blood pressure and anxiety. Those who suffer from anxiety are also susceptible to panic attacks (where the individual attempts to control their breathing). This hyperventilation can cause low blood pressure, so it is important for those suffering from anxiety to avoid stressful or anxiety triggering situations.

Dreyer advises regular checks on your blood pressure. They confirm that low blood pressure is a measurement of less than 90/60mmHg. There are several ways to check blood pressure: ask a pharmacist to do it, a practice nurse, or a GP, or it can also be done at by yourself using a home blood pressure monitor.

4) An underactive thyroid gland 

Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones. Nonetheless, when this underproduces it can cause waves of fatigue, weight gain and even feelings of depression. It clearly has an important role in the body due to being responsible for regulating such a variety of areas.

As such, is you are experiencing these symptoms, it may be wise to nook a thyroid function test, which is the only way to accurately diagnose an underactive thyroid. This is done through testing a sample of blood to measure hormone levels.

Both men and women can have an underactive thyroid, although it’s more common in women. In the UK, it affects 15 in every 1,000 women and 1 in 1,000 men. Children can also develop an underactive thyroid. Around 1 in 3,500-4,000 babies are born with an underactive thyroid (congenital hypothyroidism). All babies born in the UK are screened for congenital hypothyroidism using a blood spot test when the baby is about five days old.

5) House allergies

If you find that most mornings, your eyes are red and/or watery its time to look at your mattress.  Dust mites live in mattresses, upholstered furniture, and duvets. Every house has dust mites, regardless of how often they are cleaned.

Swollen eyelids, an itchy watery eye can signal an allergy to dust mites. If you experience these symptoms, wash all bedding on 60 degrees with one cup of white distilled vinegar and if you can, dry in the tumble dryer. This will kill the dust mites. Hoover your mattress and flip it. Spraying your mattress with the same vinegar.

The easiest ways to avoid tiredness

Here are the easiest ways to avoid tiredness:

  • Rule out underlying health problems.
  • Adopt a daily routine.
  • Avoid caffeine after 1pm.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Partake in regular exercise.

Photo by Stacey Koenitz Rozells