Fatigue – A deep dive into why so many people feel tired all the time

 In Brain/Nervous & Psychological System

Feeling tired is a common complaint, in part, because it is associated with many different health and lifestyle issues, many of which are can either be reversed or managed.  Sometimes the best approach is a natural one like dietary changes or lifestyle adjustments. It starts with figuring at what is at the root of the fatigue and then looking for ways to improve your energy levels.  Here we list some potential common causes of fatigue:

Thyroid Conditions

A recent report states that one percent of the population in this country experiences a problem with their thyroid. For those feeling tired all the time, it is possible that the thyroid gland is underproducing hormones that regulate energy. It’s a condition called hypothyroidism. Women are especially susceptible to this disease, and the risk increases once they reach age 60.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle aches

What Can You Do About Hypothyroidism?

Begin by adjusting your diet to eliminate:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy

Reduce carbohydrates and increase lean protein and healthy fats.

Detoxifying to remove heavy metals will help, as well. Look for natural products with:

  • Milk thistle
  • Turmeric
  • Chlorella
  • Cilantro

Make an effort to avoid toxins by eliminating plastic bottles and aluminum cans from your life.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is very similar in nature to chronic fatigue syndrome but more closely related to stress. Risk factors for adrenal fatigue include:

  • Family stress
  • Stressful lifestyle due to work or problems at home
  • Poor diet
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Overexercising
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Environmental toxins
  • Emotional trauma

The natural remedies are the same as CFS. Cut out caffeine, sugar and carbohydrates and add more healthy fats, proteins and vegetables. With adrenal fatigue finding ways to manage stress is essential. Incorporate relaxation techniques into your day such as:

  • Taking a walk
  • Reading
  • Meditating
  • Keeping a journal

The better you are at controlling stress, the better you and more energetic will feel.

Lack of Exercise

People associate exercise with feeling tired, but, really, the opposite is true. Those who live sedentary lives may experience chronic fatigue. The human body is designed to be active. Without that movement, people feel sluggish.

Regular exercise does more than just increase energy levels, it lowers the risk of chronic illnesses like:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Arthritis

Staying active also helps to regulate hormones and improve sleep duration and quality.

Exercise goals should include at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like brisk walking and strength training a couple of times a week. For those struggling to get moving, consider:

  • Getting a standing desk or even a treadmill desk to keep you from sitting for long hours.
  • Planing regular walk breaks even if it means just moving around the office or stretching.
  • Creating a regular schedule for exercise. For example, you go to the gym after work each day.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

There is a medical condition whose most prominent symptom is feeling tired all the time. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)  known also as systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), or myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is called America’s hidden health crisis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention It currently affects anywhere from 825,000 to 2.5 million people in this country.

It’s a condition that often goes undiagnosed because not everyone makes the connection between feeling tired all the time and illness. Besides fatigue, the other possible symptoms of CFS include:

  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • A sore throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Waking up unrefreshed
  • Extreme exhaustion for up to 24 hours after exercise or mental strain

It’s not clear to why some people develop this condition, but it may be triggered by a combination of factors such as:

  • A viral infection
  • An immune system disorder
  • Hormonal imbalances

People with chronic fatigue syndrome have poor immunity, so they are at risk for infections and yeast overgrowth. They tend to have low thyroid function and can suffer from depression or mood changes, as well.

What Can You Do About CFS?

The goal of any treatment plan for CFS is to regain energy. Start with dietary changes such as cutting out:

  • Caffeine
  • Refined sugar
  • Carbohydrates
  • Processed foods
  • Hydrogenated oils such as vegetable oil

Increase intake of:

  • Healthy fats
  • Proteins
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Adaptogen herbs such as holy basil or maca root

Everybody needs exercise, but those with CFS have a hard time getting motivated for it. Start with easy routines and work your way up to more intense movements. Ultimately, part of the treatment should include aerobic exercise, flexibility and strength training. Learn to incorporate some relaxation methods into your program, too, like yoga or deep breathing exercises.

Sleep Apnea

This is a condition that causes either complete pauses in the breath cycle while sleep (or at minimum shallow breathing while sleeping). This prevents the brain from getting adequate, restorative sleep since it has to partially wake up to prevent complete respiratory failure at night.  Common symptoms are daytime fatigue and not feeling rested upon awakening.  There are three forms of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and a combination of the two (mixed).  Obstructive sleep apnea  (OSA) is the most common and can be quickly treated by a variety of breathing devices.  Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and stopping smoking can help reverse this condition for many people.  If sleep apnea is left untreated, this can increase the risk fo heart attack, stroke, diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and motor vehicle accidents from being sleepy at the wheel.

Remember, constant/persistent low energy is not normal.  If you feel tired all the time, it’s time to figure out why.  Read more about Hyperthroidism here:

Or visit us at our convenient Nashville office to see how a Functional & Integrative medicine approach could help.

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