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The Science Behind Sleep and Fighting Fatigue

Like food, sleep is one of those basic human needs that brings people a lot of joy. I certainly look forward to an early night after a period of hecticness, a lie-in on a Saturday morning and the thought of snuggling down into freshly washed sheets, and often when you’re having a day when you feel tired all the time, sleep is all that occupies your mind.

Shaking off fatigue and that tired feeling can almost seem impossible at times, but as long as your tiredness isn’t due to an underlying condition, there are a few things you can do to fight off that weariness. But before we reveal these golden nuggets of information, let’s have a closer look at what happens when you get some shut eye.

What Happens When You Sleep?

It’s not as simple as you may think – there are actually two types of sleep that are experienced throughout the sleep cycle every night: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. Every cycle will contain a mix of both sleep types and you will repeat the cycle multiple times throughout your sleep, but as you approach closer to morning, the REM stage will become increasingly longer and deeper.

The first three stages are non-REM sleep and, according to newer research, it is supposedly these stages when your brain processes the day for learning and memory reasons. It is also thought that non-REM sleep is the most restful and restorative part of the sleep cycle.

Stage one is defined as that place between sleep and wakefulness. Sleep is light as your brain begins to slow, your breathing steadies and your muscles relax. Stage two is similar but your body temperature drops, and your muscles relax even further; this is often the longest stage of sleep. The third stage is the deep sleep everyone craves – this is the sleep that makes you feel refreshed and your heartbeat and breathing will be slowest during this stage. At the beginning part of the night this stage occurs for longer periods, but it will gradually shorten as the sleep cycle repeats.

The final part of the sleep cycle, the REM stage, occurs around 90 minutes after you first fall asleep. This is the part where you are most likely to dream and, as you do, your limbs will temporarily paralyse to ensure you don’t act out what you’re dreaming. Your breathing will become faster during this stage and your eyes will rapidly move behind your eye lids.

Why Do You Need Sleep?

It’s probably obvious that poor quality sleep can affect brain function, memory and information processing, but spatial and cognitive behaviour can also become foggy or disjointed, massively impacting one’s quality of life. Irritable behaviour, increased stress, a shortened temper and poor focus are common side effects, often affecting those around you rather than yourself. However, your physical health can also be affected, impacting things like your metabolism and blood pressure. The NHS also claim that poor sleep can lead to serious medical conditions such as obesity and heart disease, recommending that adults aim for at least eight hours of sleep every night.

Why Am I Still Tired After Sleep?

If you do manage to indulge in some quality rest, you may be surprised to find yourself feeling groggy the next day, but funnily enough, it’s not just sleep that can combat that feeling of tiredness and fatigue.

Stress can make you feel mentally fatigued so if you are feeling the pressure or cramming too much into your week, it may be worth stripping back on some of the activities you’ve signed up for. Unavoidable stress, for example work-related episodes, can be combatted through relaxation training or an exercise class like yoga.

If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may well find yourself feeling tired, as weird as that may sound. Spending all day sitting around can affect your mood and make you feel more sluggish so it’s definitely worth fitting in at least a 20-minute walk each day.

While managing stress levels and fitting in time for exercise are important factors in handling tiredness levels, it’s nutrition that can have the most significant affect on fatigue. There are a lot of fatigue-fighting vitamins and minerals found in food, but if your diet lacks sufficient fruits and vegetables, and if you’re failing to eat a varied diet, lack of nutrients could be what’s making you feel tired all the time.

What Nutrients Can Help Combat Tiredness?

Some of the key vitamins that are known to contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue include vitamins C, D, B6, B12 and folate (B9). All these B vitamins and vitamin C are water soluble vitamins which means they are not retained by the body; this means you need access to a continuous supply every day to ensure you are getting your recommended daily allowance (RDI). On the other hand, vitamin D is fat soluble, and this means excess is stored in the liver until it’s needed. Despite this useful attribute, vitamin D is mainly retrieved from the sun so winter months, overcast days or staying indoors for long periods of time can put you at risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.

As already mentioned, fruits and vegetables should be your go to for these vitamins and you shouldn’t have a problem meeting your RDI if you eat a variety of different types as your five-a-day, but if you’re like over two-thirds of the population, it’s likely that you’re struggling to get your quota.

Vitamin D intake has declined by 20%, folate by 10% and according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, there is not a single nutrient where significant numbers of people are not falling short of the target recommendation. This drop in nutrient intake is worrying and Dr Breus, dubbed as ‘The Sleep Doctor’, argues that a lack of such vitamins could also affect sleep as well as contributing to that tired feeling.

One solution you could try is drinking Argi+ and Forever Aloe Vera Gel – your very own vitamin-infused beverage. Argi+ is high in vitamins C, D, B6, B12 and folate and Forever Aloe Vera Gel is high in vitamin C and great for overall wellbeing. Simply pour one sachet of Argi+ into the 330ml carton of Forever Aloe Vera Gel, shake and drink – you’ll soon be full of the fatigue-fighting vitamins you need to see you through the day!

Have you tried #ARGIPlusAloe yet? Let us know in the comments below.

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