STYLE

Why Am I So Tired ALL The Time?

14/08/2014 16:39 | Updated 22 May 2015

It's 5am on Monday. I rummage around over the bed sheets to hit snooze on my iPhone alarm. I get three more snoozes before I actually have to get up, yet somehow the 30 minute intervals have become part of my bizarre-o weekday routine.

Routine. Routine is what's breaking my back right now - routine is what's making me tired ALL THE TIME.

On the days I get through my commute rage-/trauma-/sob-/delay-free, I pitch up to the office feeling like I've already done a day's work. I'm a crumpled, lesser version of myself - her "with the massive bags under her eyes". Half woman, half Americano.

Young woman sleeping in bed (B&W)

My long commute is a big factor to my f*cking-exhausted-face (read: I've nailed this Jennifer Lawrence outburst), but I can't help wondering if there's more to it. Feeling this tired all week is pretty unhealthy, not to mention unsustainable in the long run.

And I know I'm not alone. We're a generation of want-it-now, need-it-faster, work-every-hour people which basically means we're busy losing sleep all the time. When we're not attempting to make every single diary date we promised to make, we're cancelling dinner plans with friends.

There's a reason why NeuroOn: World's first sleep mask for polyphasic sleep won $438,573 worth of funding on Kickstarter.

So what I want to know is how do I sleep better, for longer, without having to do any of the following:

1) Start taking lavender supplements/ spending my lunch break in Whole Foods.

2) Give up the mammoth lie in on a Sunday.

3) Deny myself coffee. *Falls into hysterics at the thought*

What I do know is this: I eat too late in the evening, I over-think everything and from 9pm onwards, faff endlessly. Talk on the phone, plan tomorrow's outfit, pluck my eyebrows.

While one colleague is kept up by an obsessive need to watch American football (the Philadelphia Eagles if you're interested) while devouring Ginger Nuts, a friend confesses she's got "massive FOMO" and rarely gets to sleep before midnight.

So what does a stubborn, set in her ways, desperately tired twenty-something do? I spoke to sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski to find out how a generation that works constantly can catch up on sleep, sleep better and do so without making drastic hippy-dippy changes to our lifestyle.

"Sleep is adaptable and will naturally catch up if you allow time for it to happen. Long-term - and I mean years - non-catch ups can lead to burn-out," he says.

When I confess to my shut-eye sessions on the train during my morning commute, he says, "Nap when and where you can as long as it doesn't effect you sleeping at night. No longer than 30 mins though."

As for repeated snoozes, Idzikowski advises: "If you wake at the right time naturally then do so. If you can't trust that you won't wake then set an alarm - but set an alarm for the last possible moment before you have to wake.

"Snoozing multiple times is not a good idea, because you're disrupting your sleeping time. You need complete, continuous sleep."

What about the guilty pleasure of lying in? "It's completely fine to lie in during the weekend. If you're sleeping in, your body clearly needs the rest so don't see it as a negative, but do try to stick to your normal bedtime hour."

Interestingly, the standard Monday grogginess is simply our internal clock re-adjusting. However, listen up ladies because "for the 20s and 30s female groups, this can be a result of insufficient iron intake rather than lack of sleep so supplements are a good idea in this case."

Woman Sleeping in Office

Professor Colin Espie, world sleep expert and co-founder of Sleepio says, "The most effective, long-term solution for poor sleep is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This includes a wide range of proven techniques, such as "Putting the Day to Rest'" which helps offload the racing mind, and "Relaxation" which can help relieve stress and prepare your body and mind for a sound night's sleep.

"And best of all, CBT techniques are entirely natural, so there's no need for any pills or potions!"

If that doesn't suit, Colin recommends keeping fit. "20-30 minutes of exercise three times a week can help, but don't exercise within three hours of hitting the sack as this stimulation will make it harder to drop off," he says.

"Try not to overload your digestive system by having a heavy meal within three hours of going to bed - our digestive system has to work extra hard to digest food when we are otherwise inactive, and this can give us lighter sleep."

Penny Lewis, author of The Secret World of Sleep, says "certain foods (like milk, bananas, tuna fish, and turkey) contain elements that promote sleep while others can disrupt sleep (for instance spicy foods) and interfere with your digestion."

There you have it - a few pointers for turning around a routine that restricts a good night's kip. And it all sounds pretty painless... once you've said adios to the snooze button.

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