Help me stay awake

I am a woman in her twenties who gets tired very easily. I usually wake up around 6:00 AM, work out for an hour in the morning, then work at a desk job from 9-5. When I get home, I am often too exhausted to do anything. Forget cooking or doing household chores – I’m too exhausted to even read a book!

I don’t think my exhaustion is normal, but I’d rather see if there are any tips or folk remedies people have before seeing a doctor.

That’s all you need to know to respond.

However, if you would like more info to give even better advice, here it is:

Concerning my diet: I focus on getting a lean meat and vegetables into every lunch and dinner I have, and keeping the caloric load relatively light, supplementing it with healthy snacks every couple hours and I try to keep my sugar intake minimal. While I’m usually too tired to cook, I will try to make something substantial on the weekends or in the morning before work, so that after work I have something healthy to consume.

Possibly relevant information: I do think there is some correlation between my workouts and my level of exhaustion, because I reduced the intensity and duration of my workouts a few months ago and I saw improvement. Caffeine does help, but if I’m not careful, it keeps me up later than I want and I end up getting less than eight hours of sleep that night, which throws me into an even worst state of exhaustion the next day. Taking a shower mildly helps. Scent therapy (i.e., sniffing citrusy scents) doesn’t really work.

Other medical issues I have: asthma (which I’m taking medication for), seasonal allergies (which I’m getting shots for and medicating daily), eczema, possible gastric reflux syndrome (not confirmed, but the doctor did advise me to stay away from coffee, tea, and soda since that can worsen it).

Thanks in advance!

When do you go to bed?

When do you usually fall asleep?

Are you tired while at work? If so, is it only in the afternoon or does it also happen in the morning?

You might consider waking up at 7AM and working out after work.
Could the tiredness be psychological? Some introverted people get worn out when they interact with a lot of people or something stresses them.

Perhaps you could consider altering the time of your workouts, if you don’t use a stimulant-based preworkout supplement prior to working out (as you noted caffeine interferes with your sleep). Instead of working out before work, perhaps try working out after work. Just a thought.

Also, you could consider upping your carb intake. Currently I am dieting for a show and my carbs are extremely low and as a result I am exhausted pretty much 24/7; regardless of how much sleep I get or my workout intensity (but there isn’t much variance there lol).

I don’t think it’s psychological, my days usually aren’t terribly stressful.

Usually I climb in bed around 9:15 or 9:20, talk on the phone with my boyfriend until 10:00 and then go to sleep. I fall asleep fairly quickly after I get off the phone. Once in a while I go to bed incredibly early, like before 8:00 PM, but this is only probably about a couple times a month, and it happens less often now that I altered my workout regimen.

I don’t get tired until later in the day, in fact, I’ve taken to doing as much housework and errands as I can early in the day because I’m totally fine then.

I have worked out after work sometimes, and that’s … how do I put this? I actually had more problems with going to bed extremely early (i.e., before 8 PM) when I worked out after work, but that’s because I pushed myself to the point of exhaustion. If I manage to work out with exactly the right intensity, it does give me a very nice boost of energy, but I struggle to identify exactly how hard to push myself in order to get to that point.

I addressed your first suggestion about working out after work above … as for carb intake, do you really think the carbs are what’s making you tired? I would think it’d be the decrease in total calories. Speaking of which, I have had lots of people suggest to me that perhaps I’m not eating enough. I actually had this exhaustion problem for a few years, including the year where I gained a whole bunch of weight, so I doubt that insufficient calories are causing the problem. However, now that I think about it, I do tend to front-load my calories. And I bet if I ate less earlier in the day and more later in the day, that could really improve my energy levels. We may be onto something …

Are you nuts? Are you seriously complaining because you can go to sleep? Do you have too much money also?

The complaint is that I don’t have enough energy to do the things most people can do on a day-to-day basis. Yes, it is a nuisance when I come home and need to go grocery shopping or do laundry or clean my house and I feel too exhausted to do any of that.

Yes, I do recognize that more people have difficulty falling asleep than staying awake, and that many people would love to fall asleep as easily as I do. But as a result, you don’t go more than a few weeks without some faddy magazine or newspaper publishing an article on Eight Ways to Help You Fall Asleep! Suggestions on staying awake and functioning for the length of an entire day are much harder to come by.

Is it possible you have sleep apnea and the sleep you’re getting isn’t sufficiently restorative?

I doubt it simply because I only feel exhausted later in the day. I would think if the sleep I got wasn’t restorative, that I would feel lethargic in the morning as well … right?

But supposing you’re onto something, how could I tell? I only snore when I’m sick, and I thought snoring was one characteristic of apnea. I’m not sure how else I would tell.

When you say “exhausted”, do you mean physically tired, or sleepy, or both? Assuming you’re getting home around 6:00, there’s about three hours before you go to bed. When you’re too exhausted to do chores or even read a book, what do you do with that time? If you were to come home and go immediately to bed (maybe scarfing down some dinner first), could you fall asleep right away? If so, how long would you sleep?

I think snoring might be somewhat common in those with sleep apnea, but is by no means 100% correlated (IANAD).

Unfortunately I don’t know of any good way to tell on your own-- you’d need to have a sleep study done. A few years back, the doc gave me a kit and had me wear a finger monitor to bed so they could note anything abnormal.

Sleep apnea was my first thought as well, if only as something that should be ruled out. You will need to do a sleep study to make the determination. FYI, although one common type of sleep apnea usually causes snoring, other types do not, so that is not necessarily indicative.

I kind of just lie around. Sometimes I’ll lie around and half-heartedly text a friend, or go on the internet but have periods of laying my head down to rest. It’s not the same as going to bed because I do eventually get up and brush my teeth, take out my contacts, take off my makeup etc. before I actually get into bed.

It’s not this extreme every night; however, I know it is more frequent than normal because my friends comment on how abnormally tired I get in the evening (it’s awkward how often a friend will call at 9:00 PM and I’ll answer the phone with the drowsy I-was-sleeping voice). The way my boyfriend described it is that I am as tired after an ordinary day as he is after going two days straight with no sleep.

When I go home and get into bed sometime between 7:00 and 8:00, it does take me longer to fall asleep … maybe an hour? Hour and a half? The weird thing is that when this happens, I’ll go ahead and sleep until about 5:30. So when I go to sleep that early, it would appear that the issue is not so much my body clock being off, as my body legitimately needing more than the typical eight hours of sleep to recover.

Well I’d rather not go to the doctor, but I guess if I DO have sleep apnea then it’s probably something that can’t be fixed with just changing my living patterns. So I’ll keep this in mind, and if trying little things like changing my workout pattern, eating patterns, etc. don’t work, I’ll ask my doctor about this.

You might try consuming a teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil, either taken straight from the container or melted into a hot drink (coffee is good, decaf if you don’t want the caffeine). If this helps, you can continue using it or add more fat (and fewer carbohydrates) to your diet.

I’m narcoleptic and this is what I use instead of stimulants due to greater effectiveness and no side effects with moderate to high consumption.

There are a lot of potential causes for fatigue, and we can’t diagnose you. You should tell your doc about it, and he should do a full workup. It could be as simple as anemia or vitamin deficiency. I wouldn’t leap to assuming apnea or doing a sleep study unless you’ve ruled out causes that are more easily testable.

I agree. Try “segmented sleep”. Come home tired at 6 PM, sleep for an hour or two, wake up and eat/do chores, then go to sleep again. You have the same amount of hours of sleep and wakefulness, but adapted better to your natural schedule. And you don’t spend those hours from 6 to 9 PM in an useless state of " too tired to do anything" .

TriPolar, please don’t come into threads just to crap all over the OP, who is seeking help. If you’re seriously that incredulous, you could have asked about it in a civil way.

My apologies, to the board, and the OP. I get cranky from lack of sleep. And you are right, I could have, and should have been more civil.

Apology accepted.

Your acid reflux may be causing broken sleep, as well. You don’t REMEMBER waking up, but your body does.

If you are looking at a 10 PM bedtime, stop all food by seven PM (six would be better) and don’t drink ANYTHING after 9 PM.

No caffeine after 5 PM, no alcohol AT ALL.

Take an OTC acid reducer (Zantac, Pepcid, etc) religiously.

Elevate the head of your bed about 30 degrees.