TODAY   |  February 25, 2014

Why are you so tired?

Sleep expert Dr. Carol Ash and Julie Bain of Ladies’ Home Journal visit TODAY to reveal some new strategies to combat mental exhaustion that could make you refreshed and bright-eyed.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> that's your latest weather.

>> nice segue, al roker . it's a question many of us ask ourselves every day, especially around here, why am i always so tired?

>> well, it may not be because of a lack of sleep, it could have something to do with your diet and daily schedule. so here with some solutions are dr. carol ash and julie bain, the health director at "ladies' home journal." a lot of people ask why am i so tired? and you start, doctor, by asking people, by having them ask you some questions, right?

>> yes.

>> two simple questions you want to ask. what does the word mean to you, i'm tired. tired of the conversation and not just fatigue. so we use the word for different things. and what do you think the problem is? because sometimes you actually know what the problem is. you just don't know how to solve it.

>> julie , let's tick through some of these. one of the culprits is mental exhaustion. let's define it first.

>> well, stress. stress really takes a toll. and it's -- and women, especially, they're the warriors of the family, and they're more subject to anxiety than men are. even if you go to bed at a decent hour, there's that thing at 2:00 a.m . where your eyes pop open and you're like, i forgot to do this. how am i going to pay the bill?

>> what do you do about it?

>> as julie 's pointing out, stress is a real problem and it's a good thing. it helps us overcome challenges and learn new things. it can lead to anxiety and depression. and stress ask make you feel tired and keep you up at night. and if you're sitting up at night with the thoughts, you've got to write it down. and the next day, reach out to a trusted friend or professional to help you cope with it.

>> you say keep a journal by your bedside, perhaps. and you say avoid abusive relationships.

>> you want to be realistic and extract yourself out of situations that are really not good for you. a work relationship or personal relationship because it can be exhausting mentally.

>> all right. let's talk about sleep debt . it may be that you're getting enough sleep but on an irregular schedule. you say keep it consistent.

>> yeah, like if you've been in sochi for a couple of weeks.

>> you know, we all stay up late to watch the premiere of a new show or we're wired 24/7. let's just check the phone one more time, you know, keeping a strict schedule can make all the difference.

>> sometimes, though, the factors that are causing that sleep debt are children, you know. how do you --

>> care taking.

>> right. exactly. how do you handle? some of these things are out of your control. what should you do?

>> they really are. one of the simple things you want to do. there's a clock in your brain that will help you keep a schedule. get up on the same time every day even on weekends. take a nap if you need it. and exercise is great to help you decompress and just help you sleep at night.

>> we're not allowed to sleep in on weekends? wake up at 4:00 a.m . on the weekends?

>> sorry, willie.

>> devastating. that's devastating.

>> talk about nutrition and how much nutrition plays into this. what kinds of foods can actually disturb your sleep?

>> well, you know, the studies are so interesting on the mediterranean diet which is based on classic whole foods and so eating well, antioxidants, not too much junk, not too much caffeine late in the day , not too much alcohol right before bed and not a huge meal right before bed, which a lot of us do that sometimes.

>> and shop the periphery of the supermarkets.

>> absolutely. shop that supermarket. the processed foods are all in the middle and calorie dense foods and carbohydrates, they can cause tryptophan to be more available to the brain and cause you to be drowsy.

>> and if you tackle all the things and still having trouble, exhausted all the time, is it an indication you should look into a bigger health problem?

>> it absolutely is. anem anemia, all those things can cause you to be fatigued. you have to consider other options, too.

>> we were surprised that one doctor told us that gum disease , for example, creates inflammation in the body, and even a dental problem can make you exhausted. you have to fight off this inflammation. so go to the dentist.

>> all right.

>> get everything checked out. thank you so much.