by Britt Hysen,
Feeling fatigued nearly all the time is something a lot of people experience, but it seems to impact the Millennial generation even more significantly, perhaps than other demographics. The effects of fatigue and burnout can be far-reaching. For example, drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, according to many studies.
Ongoing fatigue can cause weight gain, emotional and psychological problems, and it can create workplace hazards.
Specific health problems linked to fatigue include:
- Stomach and digestive problems
- Reproductive problems
- Some forms of cancer
- Poor eating habits
- Development or worsening of chronic diseases
- Heart disease
- Musculoskeletal disorders
Millennials who are currently around the ages of 23 to 28, often report finding themselves in a state of exhaustion.
The General Social Survey says that young adults are twice as like now to experience constant exhaustion than they were two decades ago.
According to research from the American Psychological Association, millennials are the most stressed generation, which means loss of sleep due to anxiety.
Many describe sleep deprivation as a public health issue, but for millennials, getting adequate sleep is only one part of the issue. There are the effects of mental stress that occur even when you get enough sleep.
So, what is it about millennials that make them so tired? Starting to understand this phenomenon can help everyone work to remedy it. That can have benefits at the individual level but also in terms of healthcare costs, reduced accident risks, and increased work productivity.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the issue of millennial fatigue and burnout is brushed aside and lumped in with the negative connotations many have about this generation. For example, millennials are often viewed as entitled, lazy and spoiled.
That’s not necessarily the reality, however, and there may be very real reasons millennials are generation tired.
Theories as to why millennials might feel more tired include the following.
The Effects of Technology
Millennials are the first generation to grow up and come of age in a time of constant, pervasive technology.
They are always connected to the digital world, and they’ve grown up that way.
That has an impact on fatigue in some simple ways and some less simple ways.
In simplest terms, being connected to the world through digital technology leaves millennials sleeping less. There are constant entertainment and interaction at their fingertips, so they may find it difficult to set it aside and get rest.
There are scientific reasons for this—for example, along with the entertainment factor, mobile devices emit blue light. Blue light can cause us to be more alert and make it more difficult to go to sleep.
Beyond that, however, being constantly connected to technology can make us feel like we’re on high alert at all times. It’s difficult to calm down and relax because you’re bombarded with so much information directly through your device.
There is a lot of bad news that can come through mobile devices as well, which creates more anxiety, makes it more difficult to sleep, and can increase mental exhaustion as well.
Another reason for millennial fatigue and burnout is that this generation faces what’s often described as a crippling amount of student loan debt—more than any other generation.
This debt is paired with the fact that wages are somewhat stagnant, and the cost of living in many places around the country is on the rise and in some cases, entirely unsustainable for the average person.
As well as working to keep up with financial demands, there is very little separation from work for millennials. It’s difficult to disconnect from work and have downtime in any real way because of email and other forms of communication.
There used to be the model that you left the office at 5 p.m. and that was it for the evening and on the weekends you didn’t think about work.
Now, millennials are trying to deal with debt and also don’t have the opportunity to be free from their workplace.
There’s also the idea, especially among millennials, that we are defined by our work and our careers and every second of our lives need to be filled with things that are important and create financial value. Some older generations believe millennials work less hard than they did, but with the constant connectedness and also the high level of competition millennials face in the workplace, this might not be the case at all.
Millennials may also work multiple jobs to make ends meet because of the gig economy and the decline in employers willing to take on full-time employees because of issues related to insurance.
There’s a likelihood that millennials tend to always have an underlying sense of financial worry because they grew up during the Great Recession as well. Millennials may have seen the effects on their families first-hand, and many were just graduating college, making it a particularly vulnerable time for them.
Bad habits aren’t exclusive to the millennial generation, but discussing them is important when shedding more light on why this generation is so tired.
For example, millennials tend to depend pretty heavily on caffeine. When that’s the case, it causes spikes in blood pressure rather quickly, but then a crash can follow that.
When people are busy and always on the go, which millennials feel they are, they may not be eating the right foods. They may be grabbing foods on the go and not fueling their bodies in optimal ways, which can contribute to fatigue and burnout.
Millennials are more likely to dine out than other generations, and they tend to value convenience over their older counterparts, which may leave room for unhealthy eating choices.
So what’s the solution?
There isn’t one solution for every millennial, but an important part of the battle is recognizing fatigue and burnout and identifying reasons you’re experiencing it in your own life. You can put in place personalized strategies to help you feel less tired in a sustainable way.