Ernest Hemingway once said, “ I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when Im awake, you know?” Most of us can relate to his words when we do not get enough sleep. It makes us feel like we are possibly from another planet. Right?
The most common and obvious cause of sleepiness & fatigue is the lack of sleep. This can affect your concentration and health. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Make sleep a priority and ban all laptops, cell phones and televisions from the bedroom. Sleep apnea will cause fatigue, even though some might think they just aren’t getting enough sleep. This condition stops your breathing throughout the night and wakes you for a moment each time. Try losing weight if overweight, and quit smoking. You may need to get a CPAP devise to help keep your airway passages open.
Eating too little also causes fatigue, but if you are eating the wrong foods, this might also be the problem. Eat a balanced diet to keep your blood sugar in a normal range to prevent that sluggish feeling. Always eat breakfast and include those proteins and complex carbs in every meal.
Anemia is one of the leading causes of fatigue in women. The menstrual blood loss can cause an iron deficiency and you may need to take iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods.
Fatigue can also be caused from depression, and might include headaches and loss of appetite in addition to the fatigue. If you feel tired and “down” for more than a few weeks, see your doctor and talk therapy and/or medication.
The thyroid controls your metabolism, the speed at which your body converts fuel into energy, and may be underactive causing you to feel sluggish and put on weight. Have a blood test to confirm if your thyroid hormones are low.
Caffeine can improve alertness and concentration in moderation, but an overload can increase heart rate, blood pressure and jitteriness. It can also cause fatigue in some people. Cut back on that caffeine gradually as stopping suddenly may cause withdrawal and more fatigue.
A hidden urinary tract infection (UTI) usually accompanied by burning pain and a sense of urgency, might only have the symptom of fatigue. See your doctor for a urine analysis that can quickly confirm a UTI. If this is the cause of your fatigue, it will vanish within a week with a dose of antibiotics.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, the body might run out of steam and the sugar remains in the bloodstream instead of entering the body’s cells where it would be converted into energy. If you are constantly experiencing fatigue, ask your doctor about being tested for diabetes. If this diagnosis is confirmed, a lifestyle change such as diet and exercise, insulin therapy and medications might be necessary.
If you experience fatigue it may also be a sign of dehydration. No matter if you are working at a desk job, your body needs water to work well. Heart disease might also be a diagnosis for fatigue. Other reasons for fatigue might be life style changes, shift work sleep disorder, food allergies, CFS and fibromyalgia. There is no quick fix for CFS or fibromyalgia except for the patient to change their daily schedule, learn better sleep habits and start a gentle exercise program.
Mild fatigue that isn’t linked to any medical condition will most likely respond to exercise. Healthy but tired adults can get a significant energy boost from a modest workout program, according to research. Try a stationary bike for 20 minutes at a mild pace just 3 times a week. That should be enough to fight mild fatigue. With so many different types of fatigue, be sure to check with your doctor if it lasts for longer than 2 or 3 weeks.
-Dr Fredda Branyon