It’s just after lunch and you’re in your next class. You feel the weight of your eyelids rapidly increase as you try to listen to the teacher. No matter how interesting you find the subject, your body is still working against you. An issue that between 15-30% of teens have described experiencing frequently. If you don’t suffer from disorders such as CFS, DSPS or Narcolepsy then experiencing fatigue or sleepiness can come from a plethora of causes, including disease, poor sleep or poor diet.
One of the most common causes of fatigue is poor sleep. The CDC recommends 9-12 hours of sleep for children in the age range 6-12, individuals 13-18 years old should have at least 8-10 hours of sleep. They also report that on average 72% of high schoolers do not get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights. One way to help combat sleep deprivation related fatigue is sticking to a strict schedule
Putting your body on a consistent sleep schedule can drastically improve your mood, critical thinking, and energy levels.
Your body has an internal clock which will conform to sleep-wake cycles, this is known as your circadian rhythm. Your body’s factory settings are dependent on this rhythm. If you are going to bed too late or waking up too early you are obstructing the natural circadian rhythm which like many things is fine on occasion but unhealthy in habit. A good tip is to limit screen time and dim the lights an hour before bed. Our body sets its internal clock by the respective lightness or darkness of our environment. Not only does the light from screens delay our body’s proper release of melatonin (the natural hormone our body releases to regulate our sleep cycle), but blue light can even damage your eyes.
Sleep is just one side of the coin. The other is found in diet.
Not unlike a car, if your body is fed improper sustenance then it will perform poorly. While carbohydrates are a good source of quick energy, refined carbohydrates will cause tiredness throughout the day. This is the food that is stripped of its vital nutrients that make it healthy. An example of cutting these refined carbs for their more natural substitutes includes whole grain rather than white bread. Proteins too are another important food that are integral in maintaining energy levels. It may be worth incorporating more bananas, fish, and rice into your diet for this reason.
It’s just as much about the how much as it is the what. It is also largely important to remain hydrated throughout the day to maintain energy. Your body needs an adequate supply of energy which is dependent on your caloric intake. You can calculate your recommended caloric intake here. This varies if you’re trying to gain or lose weight.
In short, fixing one’s sleeping schedule, limiting screen before bed, decreasing the amount of refined carbs in your diet, increasing the amount of proteins and staying hydrated are a few of many ways to retroactively combat the effects of fatigue or sleep deprivation.