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Tired all the time?

Lack of sleep and consequently energy are common problems, often linked, it would seem, with the stresses and strains of modern life.

As well as making you feel dreadful, persistent tiredness can have a detrimental effect on your mental and physical health, making it harder for you to function properly.

We find our brains struggling to cope, memory slipping, concentration below par – even our skin can look dull and lacklustre.

The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the body to go about its daily routine; it doesn’t have the time to carry out important repairs or flush out toxins and eventually it breaks down. So, it really is important you get enough rest.

Stress and anxiety are the most common causes of poor sleep so take time out to relax. If you collapse into bed without winding down after a hectic day, you’re not allowing your nervous system to shift into a pre-sleep pattern.

Have a warm bath or read a book before going to bed and keep to a bedtime routine; go to bed at the same time each night and set your alarm for the same time each morning. Napping during the day, no matter how tired you might be feeling, is best avoided.

Are you getting enough exercise? As counter-intuitive as it may seem, fatigue can result from a lack of exercise, especially if you spend most of your day behind a computer screen. Try to exercise for at least 20 minutes a day; cycle to work if you can, get off the bus one stop before your usual stop or take the stairs over the lift. Even a short walk at lunchtime can help, and before you offer up your excuses, yes you do have time!

Keep an eye on your diet. In times of stress certain nutrients are used up more quickly. The B vitamins play a crucial role in supporting brain health, energy and the nervous system and are found naturally in potatoes, bananas, lentils, peppers, tempeh and beans. Alternatively a supplement can help to keep you topped up.

Other stress-busting nutrients include vitamin C for the adrenal glands, iron for energy and amino acids.

Three important amino acids that may prove useful in times of stress are glutamine, taurine and theanine. Glutamine and taurine both help to support healthy levels of specific brain chemicals known to maintain feelings of calm, whereas theanine, found naturally in tea, has been shown to generate alpha brain-wave activity similar to that achieved through meditation.

Finally, the minerals magnesium and calcium can help to relax muscles and mind after a particularly strenuous day.

Ongoing fatigue and lack of energy can also have an identifiable medical cause, such as anaemia or an underactive thyroid, and so if tiredness persists, consult your GP or healthcare professional.