Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You drag yourself out of bed in the morning and stagger around until that first cup of coffee. By 3 p.m., you stop fantasizing about that luxurious trip to a remote Tahitian island and realize you would just settle for a couch. Bedtime can’t come fast enough. But this feeling isn’t the requisite side effect of being crazed with work and family. You’re tired. Like, all the time.
The good news is that it’s not just you. There’s an actual name for it — “The Fatigued 40s.” Blame everything from stress to hormonal fluctuations during perimenopause to the changing seasons. (Fun fact: Tiredness among women peaks in the autumn.) Women also have built up decades of sleep debt from managing a career and/or raising children. Going into a time machine and reverting to your all-nighter teen years isn’t an option, so here are five surefire wake-up calls.
Curb the sugar — and wine
Yeah, this one is no fun. But there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the sugar rush from a comforting donut and chai latte spikes your blood sugar, which leads to the inevitable I-need-a-nap-ASAP crash. Meanwhile, the fermented sugar from wine can deplete energy levels. Try a gentle diet comprised of whole foods and good fats such as avocados, seeds and nuts. Protein from salmon, yogurt and eggs deliver the goods as well. (Ahem, sugar-enhanced protein bars don’t count.) You can swap wine for clear spirits, including gin or vodka.
Calm mind chatter
Did I remember to pack my daughter’s lunch? Should I respond to my client’s email now or in the morning? How much money should I have in my pension? Those are just three of the 4,032 daily worries and to-dos that clog your mental inbox. Churning the wheels in your head 24/7 is flat-out exhausting, and doing it right until bedtime can impede your sleep. There’s truth to the cliché of breathing and staying in the moment. And in the evening, channel your zen — a warm bath, good book, yoga, etc. — to clear your thoughts. Another obvious-but-effective tip: Ixnay the late-night Netflix binge until the next lazy Sunday afternoon.
Vitamins can support hormonal balance, according to London-based doctor and author Nigma Talib. A simple probiotic pill, which adds good bacteria to your gut, is a solid place to start, because poor gastrointestinal health is linked to tiredness. (Think about it: Pain and pushing on the toilet can be a strenuous ordeal.) Vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin B12 and magnesium supplements can also aid with fatigue issues. To wit: Cells require magnesium for energy production, and symptoms of magnesium deficiency include brain fog, insomnia and stress. (As always, consult a doctor before taking any medication.)
Break a sweat
You’ve got to keep on moving. A University of Georgia study found that sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising moderately three times a week felt 65 percent less fatigue after six weeks. That’s because working out increases the blood flow to your brain and sharpens your awareness. Your regimen doesn’t have to entail a double SoulCycle class, either. A brisk, midday 30-minute walk around the block three times a week can reduce tiredness by 11 percent, per Harvard University. You can handle that, no?
Truth is, the simplest and cheapest solution is right there waiting for you every night. Sticking to a bedtime and getting a proper night’s sleep will make you feel better on all counts … and brighten your skin to boot. Sleep needs are individual, so zzz for the number of hours that feels right to you. How do you know when you’re physically ready to take on the day? Wait until 11 a.m., when you’re on the rising phase of your circadian rhythm — i.e., your 24-hour internal clock that cycles between sleepiness and alertness during intervals. If you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll feel wide awake. A sweet dream, indeed.