In this day and age it's so easy to commit to a million things and neglect time to yourself to regroup. We all want to achieve greatness career-wise, in our social lives and in our training but it can take a big toll on our bodies.
We all know that there are inevitable life situations that get in the way of our sleep and it would be easy for us to just say "try and get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night". Obviously, this would be ideal but it's also worth acknowledging the steps involved to get to that point. The first step is to recognise the signs that you are over-tired and then make small changes to try and improve your mental and physical well-being.
Here are a few tell-tale signs that your candle is being burnt from both ends.
You can't switch off
Spending countless hours in front of your laptop, playing on your phone and watching a gory film before bed are all modern-day vices that lead to being over-tired. It's what people call being 'wired', when the mind is over-stimulated by graphic images, noise and sensory disruption.
Tip: Log off and jog on. Instead of winding your mind up like a spring, get your body active. Go to the gym, get on your bike and get some fresh air or go for a run. Whilst it might seem like an oxymoron to cure being overtired by knackering out your body doing exercise, it might be just what you need to send you off to sleep. Rather than exposing your mind to flashy images and technology-induced stress, let it have a break and get your body moving. The endorphins will lift your mood and also make you sleepy in a natural way, allowing you to get a better quality of rest. Also try having a digital detox at least for an hour before you're due to go to sleep so that your mind has a chance to wind-down before lights out.
You can't see the wood for the trees
Sleep deprivation can make life's daily obstacles seem like monumental mountains. Without a well-rested and clear mind that allows you to cut through the fog, you might not manage these issues particularly well, leading you to make rash decisions that you may regret. Your emotions might also be all over the place and it's not unusual to find yourself bursting into tears over the small things.
Tip: The catch-22 here is that it's most likely all the tasks that you have assigned yourself that are keeping you up all night. Writing lists of everything you need to do is a really great exercise in working out what needs to be prioritised and what doesn't. Imagining all the tasks in your mind is overwhelming but seeing them on paper somehow wins you back power over them. Crossing tasks off the list will start to feel like you are accomplishing things. This in turn will make you more relaxed and reduce the amount of thing buzzing around in your head.
You seem to catch colds every other week
When your body is overtired, its immune system is naturally affected, leading to what is commonly called feeling run down. This means that the you're more susceptible to common colds and flu and other ailments that seem to be drawn to the overtired.
Tip: Sometimes it's the process of getting ill that makes us think 'hang on, perhaps I do need to slow down'. Unfortunately, we wait until our body is literally had enough and hits us with a stinking bout of flu before we realise quite how knackered we are. Try and be in tune with your body. Once you start to feel tired and worn out, use that as your sign to get more rest. Give your body a helping hand and take more immunity boosting foods and supplements like Vitamin C and Echinacea to give your body extra troops on the ground.
You find yourself reaching for sugary snacks
When you're overtired, it's quite common to find yourself reaching for the junk food because your body is trying to find sources of energy to keep you awake. It's actually trying to get hits of serotonin to combat the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol which is released when you are exhausted. Of course, going back to that Catch-22, these foods are technically contributing to your tiredness and what you actually need are different foods all together.
Tip: Try and steer clear of the junk altogether but instead read our guide on energy-boosting foods which will be so much better for you and won't cause your blood sugar levels to hit the roof. Again, it's your tiredness that's having this irrational effect on your hunger patterns so increasing your sleep will help kick these cravings to the curb.
Your skin suffers
Being overtired can manifest itself in our physical appearance too. A lacklustre expression, sallow skin, a breakout and baggy eyes are all very visual signs that you are absolutely shattered.
Tip: Don't ignore your reflection. Be aware that being overtired is starting to show and don't just whack on the concealer. The only way you'll go back to being bright-eyed and bushy tailed is to first get some rest but also make sure you are well hydrated and eating the right things as mentioned above.
Searching for the land of nod? Check out these 8 foods for a good night's sleep.