This week, Sally takes a look at the proactive things you can do to combat fatigue. Also this week, how setting rules can help your kids makes better food choices and have healthy treats instead.
Fatigue is something we all struggle with at some point in our lives, and dealing with it regularly can cause real distress – particularly when despite your best efforts, you just cannot seem to improve your tiredness levels. When this happens, some of us worry that there is an underlying cause. However, in my experience, it is rarely medical issues that cause fatigue.
A few issues – diabetes, an underactive thyroid or anaemia can all be excluded by your own doctor if your tiredness is unexplained and persistent. Being overweight can certainly increase tiredness, especially if associated with sleep apnoea. This is a condition where sleep is constantly interrupted by snoring, resulting in excessive sleepiness during the day. Sleep apnoea can affect your partner’s sleep too – and is also associated with an increased risk of road traffic accidents. Check with your own doctor if you think you may have sleep apnoea – it can be treated and you will feel a whole lot better and more able to tackle any weight problems.
Other than losing weight, there are a number of things that you can do right now, to tackle exhaustion.
Get a caffeine boost
Caffeine is often demonised as an addictive drug that should be avoided wherever possible. In actual fact, in moderation it can be a useful pick-me-up, can improve physical performance and appears to have health benefits too – it may improve mental performance and reduce the risk of Alzheimers and diabetes. Just avoid it after lunch as it takes time to clear from the system and may affect your sleep.
Hit the gym
How often do we feel so exhausted that we would rather hit the sofa than the gym? However, we know that if we do make the effort, we are re-vitalised. Studies show that exercise increases our energy in many ways – from building up muscles to boosting our mood and self-confidence.
Say no to sugar
Avoiding sugar wherever we can will do wonders for our energy levels. The rapid boost it provides is then followed by a slump as our blood sugar levels plummet in response to the hormone insulin that is released when we eat sugar. Much better for energy levels is to have slower burn energy sources – protein, fats in moderation and complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains.
Up your Omega-3 intake
Omega 3, found in oily fish has been shown to help sleep and improve mental concentration. However, high levels of omega 6, found in processed foods (cakes biscuits etc) as well as dairy, can compete with omega 3. Try to redress the balance by cutting down on processed food and eating oily fish or seafood 3 times a week (or using high quality supplements if you aren’t a fish lover).
Being under stress throws your hormones out of kilter. Those fight-or-flight hormones cortisol and adrenaline are supposed to provide a short-term reaction to help you deal with potential danger – not be switched on all the time. Not only does stress interfere with your sleep but it can affect your digestion, heart, weight, memory and mood.
Turn it off
More and more evidence is showing that our addiction to screens – computer, TV, phone etc. are affecting our sleep and general well-being. Not only do we find it difficult to switch off if we have been working or surfing the net late into the night – but the bright light affects our melatonin levels, throwing our natural circadian rhythms way off course. No wonder studies show that people sleep badly after excessive screen time in the evenings. Back to the hot bath and cocoa pre-bed routine!
With a few simple changes to our daily habits we can boost our energy levels and approach the summer firing on all cylinders!
Encouraging your children to eat healthily can be a real battle, particularly when you’re competing with the salty and sugar-laden goodies that are pushed at them in every direction. Drawing your kids away from the brightly-coloured and E-number-laden sugary treats and towards healthier alternatives can be enough to draw tears from both parties. But the good news is, your hard work in setting rules for your children WILL pay off, with your children making healthier choices in the long run, as a recent study has found!
The study from the University of Buffalo found children benefited when parents set rules about what their kids were and were not allowed to eat. It looked at the behaviour of 2 year olds and their parents, and found that parents setting rules from a young age meant that children developed healthier eating habits, and even made a difference to their child’s ability to “self-regulate” their eating.
May encourage you to persevere next time your child has a tantrum over the dinner table!
When parents set rules about food preschoolers eat healthy. X Wen, N Sharma Wen, K L Kong et al. University at Buffalo. Obesity Week 2014