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5 surprising reasons you wake up tired every day


It’s morning, and you’ve just woken up feeling exhausted – yet again. You’ve tried going to bed earlier, or setting your alarm earlier, but nothing seems to make a difference. You’re tired all the time, whatever you do and however much you sleep.

If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re one of the 15% of women, or 10% of men who regularly feel ‘exhausted’. Not only that – as much as ⅓ of US adults don’t get the sleep they need. That’s a big deal.

Lack of good-quality sleep can lead to memory issues, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure and low sex drive (to name just a few). There’s also the ever-present risk of falling asleep while driving – something a scary 1 in 25 people report having done in the past month.

If you’re tired, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean it’s normal or OK. It’s important to understand why this is happening, and what can you do about it. Here are 5 surprising reasons you’re waking up tired (and what you can do about it).

1) You’re getting too much exercise


If you’ve ever spent a long day on your feet (whether hiking in the mountains or walking round the mall), you’ll know that feeling of contented tiredness that usually leads to a peaceful night’s sleep.

Surely it should stand to reason, then, that more exercise means better sleep? Wrong. Too much exercise means that your body doesn’t get a chance to recover, and your sleep gets disrupted as a result.

You don’t even have to be going hard in the gym 2 hours a day to get to this point. If you’re just starting out with exercise, or you’re training alongside a stressful job and long commute, your body might not have the capacity to push to the level you want to be at yet.

The solution: Keep exercising (no exercise can also damage your sleep), but dial it back and mix in rest days and stretch or yoga days alongside harder exercise.

2) You’re not eating enough carbs


There’s plenty of evidence that low carb diets can be great for weight loss and fighting diabetes and heart disease. Eating fewer carbs and more protein can help you avoid blood sugar spikes and feel fuller for longer.

But there are times when carbs aren’t such a bad thing – and one of those times is bedtime. A carb blood sugar spike can actually make you sleepy, boosting the sleep hormones tryptophan and serotonin – especially if the carbs you eat are simple, easy-to-digest carbs like white bread or rice.

Solution: Try a small carby snack – like white toast and butter – a couple of hours before bed.

3) Your pillow isn’t right


Many of us have a sleep set up that’s a long way from ideal for sleep. Uncomfortable mattresses, squeaky beds, covers that are too thin or too thick…all these are pretty obvious reasons for not getting the sleep you need.

What about your pillow? Most of us don’t think about them much – but if you struggle with sleep, there’s a good chance your pillow is to blame (or at least, it’s not helping). Most standard pillows are filled with soft polyester (or, if you’re lucky, natural down). But soft pillows don’t do anything to support the spine or neck, leading to lots of tossing and turning, muscle aches and often snoring.

The solution: Replace your standard pillow with an advanced memory foam pillow like the Derila. This provides ergonomic support for your spine, neck and head, reducing muscle pain and stiffness and encouraging deeper, snore-free sleep.

Whereas ordinary pillows allow you to sink down (the sleeping equivalent of a slouch), memory foam pillows like the Derila keep your spine straight, with butterfly wings at each side to keep your head comfortable and supported. What’s more, the memory foam adjusts to your weight and shape, kind of like a hug, every night.

4) You’re getting older


When we age, we start to need less sleep. Older people are more likely to struggle to get to sleep, and more likely to sleep lightly once they are asleep.

None of this is a problem if you still feel well-rested – a little less sleep is fine and even healthy. But for many, sleep becomes a problem that’s tough to deal with, with a lack of sleep even leading to depression.

Many older people also suffer from chronic conditions which can cause pain at night, and the muscle aches and pains that most of us experience at some point tend to get worse with age.

The solution: It’s a good idea to see your doctor first to rule out any unknown medical issues that might be stopping you from getting the sleep you need.

Then, take a look at your sleep set up and see if it’s as comfortable as it can be – try experimenting with the temperature in your room for example. If you suffer from muscle aches or restlessness, make sure you have a good, supportive mattress and pillow. Switching to a memory foam pillow can make a huge difference to your sleep quality.

5) You have a thyroid condition


Thyroid conditions don’t always cause obvious symptoms – and so they can go diagnosed for years. But sleep issues can be caused by both an underactive or an overactive thyroid, so if you’re struggling with sleep and waking up tired, it’s worth considering whether this could be the cause.

Solution: Look out for night sweats and having to get up to pee often during the night (this could be an overactive thyroid) or muscle pain and struggling to fall asleep (possible underactive thyroid). If you have any concerns at all, see your doctor.

Sleep is a huge deal – but too many of us write off sleep issues as something we just have to accept.

Fact is, most of us can improve our sleep with a few small changes. We can’t guarantee this of course, but it could just be that that ‘waking up ready to take on the world’ feeling is just a new pillow and plate of toast before bed away.

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