Why am I so tired? How lockdown can be making you feel fatigued
9 April 2020, 15:17 | Updated: 9 April 2020, 19:51
Many of us have noticed that we're more tired than usual during lockdown - here are the possible reasons why.
The UK has been in lockdown for three weeks, with Brits being told to stay in their homes other than for daily exercise, food shopping, medical reasons and essential work.
As a result, many of us are now working from home, homeschooling the kids, and finding other ways to entertain ourselves indoors.
One thing that many people have been noticing is that they're feeling unusually tired and groggy during lockdown.
This is despite the fact that many of us may be sleeping more than usual, and not over-exerting ourselves during the day.
Here are some reasons why you might be feeling more tired than usual during lockdown, according to Dr Aamer Khan, a GP, author, and founder of Harley Street Skin.
1. Reduced time spent going out and being active starts to slow the metabolism down and can make us feel more sluggish.
Plan to take full advantage of the once a day exercise rule, and try to get out for a walk at the very least. This activity can help improve your mental and physical state. It also puts you in touch with nature. During the rest of the day plan time to look out of the window to see the birds, and keep connected to nature.
2. Reduced Exposure to daylight and sun will reduce the amount of melatonin and serotonin being produced in the brain, this can lower mood and affect our sleep pattern. Reduced and disturbed sleep can lead to tiredness during the day.
Open the curtains and let the light in, don’t just stay in a dark room watching TV, or on your phone or computer.
3. During this time of uncertainty people are worried about getting the virus, job and financial insecurity, loss of routine and order in our lives all lead to a heightened state of anxiety, and even to us feeling depressed. This can also affect your sleep and energy levels and cause tiredness, grogginess, and lethargy.
Take positive action, and apply for the government funded support, talk to your employer, bank, mortgage provider, landlord, and council to see what support is available. Listen to their advice from the government and the NHS and follow the guidelines.
4. During lockdown we are not moving as much as we normally do, so not breathing as deeply as we are used to, this can lead to a reduction in the oxygen levels in our tissues and an increased level of carbon dioxide, which can result in tiredness, and a feeling of lack of energy, and increased yawning.
Make sure that you keep moving, do breathing exercises, and stretches on a regular basis.
5. We are using a lot more electronic devices up to the time that we go to bed. These produce blue light, which can interfere with going off to sleep, and so cause a sleep disturbance.
Electronic devices may be crucial to keep in touch with families and friends and to carry on working. Try to switch off blue light devices (phones and computers) at least two hours before you go to bed. Try reading or listening to relaxing music before going to bed so you are not over-stimulated, and can’t get off to sleep.
6. Some of us are not bothering to wash and get dressed in the mornings, and stay in a lethargic mood through the day - this attitude can affect our normal circadian rhythms and make us feel tired, and depressed.
Plan to wash and get dressed every morning, as this stimulates your mind, body , and gives you a routine to start the day.
7. Generally, families may not be able plan, prepare, and serve nutritional meals, either, because they are not used to doing this, or the lockdown has restricted the opportunity to shop for nutritionally balanced foods. This can also have an effect on our energy levels.
Plan your meals, so you know what to buy, and can ensure good nutrition, which will give you more energy and support a healthy immune system.
8. 24/7 coverage of the COVID-19 - can cause enhanced anxiety, and can lead to depression and sleep disturbance.
Avoid over exposure to the news, keep updated once a day, again, planning your day will help with this.
9. Confused, unverifiable sources of information and advice on social media, and conspiracy theories can significantly affect our mental health.
Avoid unverified sources of information. Best keep it to the government, NHS and Health Education England websites.
10. During the lockdown we have a lot of time to think about things, and it is easy get get into a negative spiral of thinking about our health, and other negative thought processes.
Keep your mind occupied - play games, learn to play an instrument, watch films, especially comedies, and fantasy. Keep in touch with family and friends.
11. Isolation can be a part of lockdown, and can also lead to a spiral of depression.
Use your electronic devices to keep in touch with family and friends. Download party apps, that allow you to have a get together with other people, even watching a film together.
12. During our normal day, prior to lockdown, we tend to give ourselves “micro-Lifts” - pop into our favourite coffee shop, say hello to someone on our way to work, pick up a magazine or newspaper, pop out for lunch, meet a friend for a drink on the way home, etc. These are usually peppered throughout the day, and have all but disappeared during lockdown.
Order in your favourite coffee, or snacks, download your favourite magazine, or book to read. Book calls with family and friends, and have an e-drink with them.
13. Loss of routine can affect our mental state and motivation, resulting in confusion, loss of perspective of time. We may forget to do important things, that can lead to a sense of loss of control, frustration and guilt.
Plan your day, develop a new routine, have a specific place in your home where you work from, so you can switch off and walk away. Try planning your routine as close to what it was before the lockdown as possible - getting up, brushing your teeth, washing, and getting dressed, having breakfast, working, exercising, planning your meals, socialising, entertaining, and bedtime. Remember, it is easy to get into the habit of drinking alcohol to try to pass the time, try to avoid this.
I believe that if you can keep an isolated person company it has a great positive effect on their and your mental health.
Always consult your doctor if you are worried about your health.