Tiredness and Fatigue: How to Regain Energy and Vitality
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As we age, we are more prone to certain illnesses and these may leave us feeling more tired. However, tiredness is not a symptom of aging! Unless chronic pain is causing your fatigue there are things you can do to give you more energy, so that you can get on with engaging with your life. There may not be one single cause for your lethargy but making a few small changes to your routine might give you back the energy you thought age had taken away from you.
Do you get enough sleep?
Sleep may sound like an obvious solution, but our sleep patterns change as we age, and we have to account for these changes when thinking about being tired. According to the National Institute on Aging, Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older and this may lead to fatigue throughout the day and negative feelings around going to bed, which might only make the problem worse.
Developing healthy sleep habits might help you to get the right amount of sleep, and better sleep quality. This could be as simple as having a routine: making sure you’re going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will help your body to relax and get the right number of hours of sleep. This routine could involve ‘winding down’, making sure you’re not exercising within three hours of going to bed and making sure you don’t have any bright lights on within half an hour before you go to sleep. This includes tablets, laptops, phones, and TVs which all prevent our bodies from producing melatonin, the hormone which tells us it’s time to go to sleep. This isn’t a complete solution, but may help your eyes to feel less stressed, and disrupt your sleep patterns less.
Try these tricks
There are also little tricks you can use when you’re in bed, lying in the dark and wide awake, to make yourself fall asleep. One is Jacobson’s Relaxation Technique, which is also sometimes called Progressive Relaxation Therapy.
- First, find a quiet place where you feel comfortable and safe (your bed is perfect!)
- Lie on your back, with your eyes closed
- Focus on your breathing, feeling your breath fill your stomach, letting it out slowly and consistently
- Bring attention to your feet
- Point your feet, letting your toes curl
- Tighten your toe muscles gently
- Focus on the tension in your feet for a few moments, then release and notice how relaxed your feet feel
- Do this again, and focus on the difference between your muscles when they are tensed and relaxed
- Work your way up your body focusing on each muscle in turn, feeling how relaxed it is once you’ve tensed it
- Once you’ve worked your way all the way up your body, all your muscles should feel completely relaxed and you might feel yourself drifting off into a deeper sleep
There are also little games you can play with yourself, like telling yourself it’s five minutes before you have to get up and you just want that extra little bit of time in bed. The National Institute on Aging recommends that you only use your bedroom for sleeping so if you’ve been in bed for 20 minutes with the light off and you still don’t feel sleepy, get up and only go back to bed when you’re feeling drowsy.
According to Healthline, a lack of sleep may cause the ‘symptoms’ you might be putting down to old age, for example loss of memory. People who are sleep deprived have a harder time receiving information, have impaired judgement and lose their ability to access previous information. Those memory lapses you might have every now and then might simply be down to tiredness!
According to the National Sleep Foundation the idea that we need less sleep as we age is actually a myth, and our sleep needs stay the same throughout adulthood. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but you should try getting between 7 and 9 hours per night to see if any of these side effects improve.
Other things to think about…
There could be many factors contributing to fatigue, and it is important to make sure you sleep well, eat well, get enough fresh air and sunshine! Sometimes it’s difficult to follow advice, even if you think it might help you, but it’s all about creating good habits – integrating one new thing into your routine at a time. If you can make one small change, you might feel a big difference!
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