If you find yourself dozing off during Zoom meetings, typing the same words or sentences twice (only to notice that you did so after sending an email), or making strange nonsensical decisions, you may have what MattressFirm’s newest commercial calls “junk sleep.” While this term may seem like a marketing buzzword to get people in the store, junk sleep is real, and it’s a living nightmare.
According to UK-sleep expert and director of Edinburg Sleep Centre Chris Idzikowski, the phrase “junk sleep” refers to “sleep that is of neither the length or quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly” at school, work, or elsewhere.
As a person living with chronic illness, I definitely get being tired (chronic fatigue is no joke). That’s why I reached out to the experts in hopes of discovering one or more potential remedies to ease my fatigue. So, if you’re like me and you’re sick of walking through life like a zombie, here are a few things you can try.
Why You're Always So Tired and 4 Subscriptions to Ease Your Fatigue
The Problem: Sedentary Lifestyle
Working a 9-to-5 is rough. This is especially true if you have a long commute and/or a full house to feed when you get home. With all of that going on, who has the time to exercise? I mean, by the time you get there, shower, and make dinner, exhaustion is bound to win.
“We get it — if you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is exercise!” says board-certified sleep specialist and founder of the Sleep Cycle Centers, Chad Denman, DDS. “When middle-aged and older adults are asked why they don't exercise, feeling tired is the most common reason given! This often leads to a cycle that is hard to break,” adds Denman. “However, living a sedentary lifestyle has very serious ramifications for our health.”
How to Fix It: Start Slow
Sitting at a desk all day isn’t ideal, but it’s the lifestyle many of us (myself included) put to practice. However, with remote work on the rise, there is more opportunity to get up and moving without weirding out your cubicle friends. Making a quick trip to the mailbox, for example, is an easy way to get out of your seat and get your blood pumping for a few minutes.
“If you’re new to exercising, start slow,” says Denman. “I always recommend starting by replacing a few non-active habits with more physical habits. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk around during commercial breaks or take one phone call a day while standing,” Denman continues. “Practices like this will keep you moving so you can start increasing your physical activity.”
The Best Subscription for the Job: Openfit
Openfit is a health and wellness subscription that gives users the option to pick and choose between 350 live and on-demand classes each week, each of which is led by a real personal trainer. (The subscription also includes a custom nutrition plan that features personalized daily meal options.) What’s even cooler is that subscriptions start at just $8 per month. That’s a steal considering the average cost of a traditional gym membership.
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The Problem: Unbalanced Diet
I love food, but when it comes to eating the “right meals” at the “right times,” I’m a bit behind. I frequently skip breakfast, work through lunch, and then scarf a huge dinner (plus a few midnight snacks) late in the evening.
“Unbalanced diets can lead to fatigue by creating energy or nutrient imbalances which impair the body’s normal functioning, alter the sleep-wake cycle, deplete energy reserves and, in some cases, even cause inflammation which all lead to fatigue,” says dietitian and founder of Holistic Health and Wellness, Kaytee Hadley RDN, MSNHL, CPT.
How to Fix It: Eat at Least Three Meals Per Day
I do find, however, that on the days I plan to have breakfast and make time for lunch, I feel more productive. Of course, I haven’t perfected the whole eat three times per day thing quite yet, but I’m working on it.
“Balancing your intake of macro and micronutrients to your unique needs can help to improve your body’s ability to convert your food into energy, use it efficiently, and improve sleep quality which can all decrease fatigue,” says Hadley. “Eat meals at regularly scheduled times during the day, starting with breakfast. Eating breakfast is positively linked to sleep quality, daytime alertness, and longer sleep duration.”
The Best Subscription for the Job: Splendid Spoon
Splendid Spoon is a gluten- and dairy-free meal kit service that gives subscribers the option to choose between 50+ ready-to-eat meals, including 16 low-sugar smoothies, 32 soup and grain bowls, eight noodle bowls, seven light soups, and seven immune-boosting “shots.” Each meal and smoothie is quick and easy to prepare and surprisingly super filling (I know because I’ve tried Splendid Spoon myself). Plans start at $65 and go up from there.
The Problem: Stress
Stress is my kryptonite. As a self-proclaimed people pleaser and recovering workaholic, I definitely know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Sometimes, I’m too stressed to work or sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that I’m desperately trying to break.
“If you’re too stressed, you will have trouble falling asleep or may find that the sleep you are getting is not restful causing you to feel tired throughout the day,” says Stephen Light, certified sleep science coach and CMO and co-owner of Nolah Mattress.
How to Fix It: Try Listening to Guided Meditations
When I can, I try to schedule 30 minutes to an hour of “me time” to color, meditate, walk my dogs, or whatever. Participating in an activity that doesn’t require much thought helps me relax, and if I do this right before bed, I find that I rest much easier on those nights.
“A way to help this issue is to listen to guided meditations that will help you focus on your breathing and help your mind unwind and get ready for sleep,” says Light. “These meditations can be found on Youtube or on subscription-based apps such as Headspace.”
The Best Subscription for the Job: Headspace
Headspace is a mindfulness app that focuses on guided meditation, including nighttime meditation exercises and introductory mindfulness lessons. The app gives potential customers the chance to “learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness” for free via a seven-day free trial. After completing the free trial, users can opt to pay $5.83 per month ($69.99 annually) or $12.99 per month.
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The Problem: Poor Nutrition
As I mentioned a bit earlier, I’m not the best when it comes to eating properly or taking my vitamins (although considering my health issues, I should definitely work harder to ensure that I’m doing both of these things). But as it turns out, both of these issues may be contributing to my zombie-like appearance and attitude.
“Poor nutrition can make you feel tired,” says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, and founder of Root Nutrition. “Low levels in vitamins C, D, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, and the B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, and B12) can cause lethargy. Blood tests can determine your levels.”
How to Fix It: Consider Taking a Dietary Supplement
If you’re feeling sluggish, taking a dietary supplement may help. However, before you decide to add one or more vitamins to your daily routine, you should probably ask your doctor if it’s OK first. (Just to be safe!)
“B vitamins are found in whole grains, with the exception of B12, which is found in animal foods like fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products,” says Kimszal. “Like vitamin D, B12 can sometimes be hard to absorb. Dietary supplements have a 50 percent better bioavailability than food sources of B12, so if someone is deficient in this nutrient they may need to supplement to get levels back on track.”
The Best Subscription for the Job: Ritual Vitamins
Ritual Vitamins are vegan, third-party tested, non-GMO vitamins that contain traceable ingredients. They taste minty, smell nice, are easy to swallow, and I can say from experience, do have a positive effect on one’s energy. (After taking Ritual for 30 days, I did notice a slight boost in energy.) Ritual also offers a super tasty protein shake that’s made with organic pea protein and natural vanilla bean extract.
How do you fight fatigue? What subscriptions are helping you out, if any? Let us know in the comments!
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