The Irish nation is tired. Like, really tired. 

According to a 2017 survey by Aviva, Ireland is the second-most sleep-deprived country after the UK. Between long commute times, longer working days and the generally busier lives we lead today, more and more people are struggling to get a handle on their sleep. 

Worse, research has revealed that there are no more than five types of tiredness, making the battle to master our sleep that bit more difficult. 

Nutritional therapist Jackie Lynch spoke to Cosmopolitan Australia about the varying kinds of tiredness a person can suffer from, sharing her insight on how to tell the difference between them and what may be causing them. 

Energy highs and lows

The most common form of tiredness, characterised by dips in our energy levels at certain points in the day. You'll know it well: you hit that midday slump and the only thing able to revive you is a shot of coffee or a sugary snack. 

Lynch explains that this is your blood sugar going from high to low throughout the day, which can also cause irritability.

She explains that the best way to overcome this kind of tiredness is to monitor what you're eating, ensuring you're filling up on protein and carbs that will keep you fuller for longer and release energy slowly throughout the day. Don't let your body go too long without food, either, as this will just make you doubly tired and doubly cranky. 


In the rush to get out the door, get to the desk and start our day, we can often forget to eat breakfast. According to a 2014 survey carried out on the behalf of the Irish Rugby Football Union, young people aged 19-24, almost half (48%) skip breakfast regularly. 

While recent research has questioned that those who skip breakfast have a higher calorie intake and body weight, the discomfort that comes from skipping breakfast is undeniable. More often than not, you end up with headaches, dizziness and a sense of unease or stress.

When the body gets going without proper food, this leads to a decrease in magnesium levels, the nutrient that calms the nervous system, regulates your stress responses and supports muscle functions. To undo this, fill up on leafy greens, whole grains and magnesium-rich foods like avocado. 

Lack of stamina

Depending on your job, you might need the staying power of a marathon runner, and when this is the case you cannot skimp on your nutrition. If you're feeling like you're running on empty, Lynch suggests a lack of iron may be the problem. 

Iron powers brain cells, muscles and tissues, making it a vital nutrient for the body - especially in times of increased stress. 

Lynch says that upping your intake of red meat, green veg, lentils, nuts and dried fruits will help. 

No motivation

Although "no motivation" could be interpreted as "lack of stamina", these types of tiredness are distinctly different. Rather than wanting to carry out work or get up and out, when you're lacking motivation you would much rather stay in one position most of the day. 

One possible cause for this could be a vitamin B deficiency, which can also cause poor memory and irritability. Set this right with more eggs, fish and meat to up your protein levels, while easing off the alcohol will help. 

Tired and wired

Here's a scenario that most people will have experienced at one point: you've had a long day, you're finally cosied up in bed but you can't doze off, no matter how exhausted you feel. 

Lynch points out that this could be due to your coffee consumption, a habit that many will be reluctant to cut. It's a catch-22, however: when caught between cycles of tiredness, many of us will reach for the espresso to see us through the day. By the time we need to doze off, however, our systems are so abuzz from the caffeine that we need separate methods of winding down

Instead, set a time in the day when you start reaching for water or herbal teas instead of coffee and practice sleep mindfulness when you can.