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Workplace fatigue: this is the real reason why you feel so tired at work in the morning

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A woman looking tired at work in the morning

Ever wondered why you feel so tired at work in the morning? Research has revealed the average person’s genetic wake-up time, and it could explain why you’re not a morning person.

Are you the kind of person who wakes up and immediately thinks ‘I need a coffee’? You’re not alone.

If you find yourself struggling to wake up in time for work in the morning, and still feel tired by the time you’ve sat down at your desk (even if you’re at least one caffeinated drink down by this point), then fear not. Research from DNA testing company 23andMe has found that there could be a genetic reason as to why you’re still yawning while scrolling through your emails.

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The research analysed the DNA of over 1,500 Brits to determine the average genetic waking time, which was 7.55am.

This means the average Brit wakes up naturally just before 8am, which is likely to be later than most of us set our alarms for in the morning. Waking up earlier than our body’s natural circadian rhythms, or while in the wrong sleep cycle, can make us feel especially tired in the mornings, and have a knock-on effect on our productivity.

why am i so tired
Why am I so tired? Waking up before our body's natural alarm clock can make us feel tired.

Even if you don’t tend to feel tired at work in the morning, chances are that you fall into a bout of office sleepiness at least once a day. We’re all familiar with the mid-afternoon office slump, and research from the NHS found that at any given time, one in five people feel “unusually tired”. The phenomenon is so common it even has its own acronym within medical circles: TATT, or Tired All The Time.

But don’t worry if you find yourself prone to feeling TATT: there are some quick and easy ways tricks you can use to try and wake up your body. 

Below we list five of our favourite tried and tested methods for beating the office slump, some of which are as simple as cracking out a piece of chewing gum. Sit back, take a read and prepare to feel energised…

Try moving around

Why am I so tired
Why am I so tired? Sitting still at a desk for a prolonged period of time can make us feel sleepy.

The NHS warns that sitting still for a long period of time can put your body into sleep mode. Avoid falling into this office-based version of hibernation by making sure you get up and move, even if its just to do a tea round or pop to the corner shop for a bag of Maltesers.

The NHS recommends stretching and walking away from your desk as often as possible in order to keep your body alert and your mind ticking over.

Try listening to music

Music can be a great motivator: we all know the power of the perfect song choice to get us going on our morning jog or see us springing out of bed in the morning.

And studies have suggested that listening to a favourite song or album can help you cut through tiredness while relieving stress and tension.

So next time you’re feeling weary, pop in your headphones and tune out the office hum (you could even try listening to this “wake up” playlist devised by Spotify’s data scientists, to give you an extra bit of pep).

Try drinking more water

reusable water bottle
Why am I so tired? Try keeping a bottle of water on your desk to keep you energised.

Here’s a pleasingly simple way to try and beat the afternoon office slump: take a sip of water.

Our bodies are made up of a not-insignificant 50-65% water, so it’s unsurprising that not drinking enough of it can have a severe impact on how we feel. From fatigue and tiredness to headaches and a lack of concentration, dehydration can wreak havoc with our bodies before we even begin to feel thirsty.

A study of 300 GPs, carried out by the UK’s Natural Hydration Council, even found that one in every five patients visited the doctor with health issues (including tiredness and fatigue) that could be cured just by drinking more water.

To counteract this effect, the NHS recommends we drink eight glasses of fluid a day - and this can include tea, coffee, fruit juice and milk.

Try chewing some gum

Chewing gum isn’t just great for the minty freshness: it could also help you beat fatigue.

A study by researchers at the Department of Psychiatric Research in Zagreb compared the sleepiness of a group of students who had stayed up all night chewing gum to a group of students who had stayed up all night but not chewed any gum.

The study concluded that the students with gum “assessed their sleepiness as lower than the students who were not chewing”, hinting that a piece of gum could be a cure to the mid-afternoon slump.

Try eating dark chocolate

eat dark chocolate
Why am I so tired? There could be a delicious solution...

Brilliantly, there are many recorded benefits to eating dark chocolate, from boosting your mood to relieving stress.

As a natural stimulant it also contains a (very) small amount of caffeine, meaning it can help wake you up as well as helping you feel happy and stress-free.

Nutritionists recommend you opt for a bar with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids to get the full benefits.

Please be aware that this article was originally published on 15 November 2019, but has been updated throughout to include new information.

Images: Getty, Unsplash

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