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Educational health information to improve your well-being.

Could This Be the Reason You Feel Tired All the Time?

July 5, 2018
Published in: Fitness, Mental Health, Sleep

Woman siting at a desk yawning

Are you tired and you can't figure out why? Multiple factors can lead to tiredness, including mistaking general weariness for fatigue. Fatigue is a tiredness that is unexplained, persistent, reoccurring, and affects the performance of daily activities. The feeling is similar to missing a lot of sleep or exhaustion while fighting the flu. Causes of fatigue and tiredness include overall health issues, stress, sedentary lifestyle, and underlying medical concerns.

How is your overall health?

Lack of sleep

Alarm clock and cell phone on a bedside tablePerhaps the most obvious reason for feeling tired is lack of sleep. Adults require approximately seven hours of sleep every night for their bodies to function efficiently. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with your sleep cycle:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This includes the weekends and days off from work.
  • Avoid naps. Catching extra zzz's throws off your regular sleep pattern.
  • Minimize your time lying awake in bed. If you find this to be a challenge, getting up and reading or simply sitting quietly in another room can help trigger sleepiness.
  • Cut the caffeine. Decrease your caffeine intake, and don't consume caffeinated drinks in the afternoon.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol before bedtime. These substances will often cause fragmented sleep if you use them before hitting the sack.
  • Tweak your bedroom's conditions. Make sure your bedroom is as silent as possible, dark, and at a temperature that is comfortable for you.

Diet

Having a balanced diet is key to feeling more energetic. Nutritional gaps cause different levels of fatigue, as well as overeating or undereating. Various components of your diet regimen can cause tiredness, but here are some basic tips to keep in mind the next time you think about your upcoming meals:

  • Consider your calories. Everyone has different caloric needs based on gender, age, weight, and more. Ask your doctor or nutritionist what calorie level is healthy for your specific needs.
  • Create a colorful plate. Focus on filling a majority of your plate with fruits and veggies, then reflect on the carbs you are eating. Make sure you are eating whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread. The remainder of your plate should be protein. Lean meats and poultry are rich in omega-3's and lower in fat.
  • Never skip breakfast. Breakfast is the meal that fuels your body for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast will cause you to miss out on essential nutrients.
  • H2O is your friend. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, but drinking more water can help prevent this issue.

Lifestyle

Keeping active is critical when it comes to preventing fatigue. A study by the University of Georgia in Athens proved that participating in moderate to intense-level exercise for 20 minutes boosts energy more than being sedentary. The school also discovered that when sedentary people incorporated regular physical training, their tiredness and fatigue improved more than those who did not. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, adults should strive to exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes weekly over two or more days per week. Even though this may seem like a lot of time, you don't have to isolate yourself to only two days. You can split the exercise time down across even more days if you choose. Following this guideline has enormous potential to decrease tiredness.

How stressed are you?

stressed woman with her hands clenchedEveryone has stressors in their life, but excessive pressure can lead to exhaustion and sometimes illness. Examples of extreme stress can be related to relationship complications, major life events, moving to another location, and unemployment. Large amounts of stress prompt the body create a more substantial number of the "fight or flight" chemicals which are essential to prepare the body for an emergency situation. This is a very exhausting process for the human body, often leading to tiredness, headaches, and migraines. Consider incorporating some of these tips to decrease your stress levels:

  • Keep a journal. Write details about exactly how you are feeling and how you believe it is related to your daily activities. This will help identify commonalities and patterns across different stressors.
  • Communication is key. Learn how to express your feelings, especially to those who are causing your excessive stress. It is much healthier to avoid bottling up your emotions.
  • Accept that you can't change everything. Some stressors are out of your control and unavoidable. Becoming sick or the death of a loved one are examples of events that can cause a lot of stress over a long period. Reaching out for help and learning new coping mechanisms are key when dealing with such circumstances.
  • Figure out the source. Until you find out what is causing your stress, it will be tough if not impossible to lower your stress levels. If this is challenging on your own, consider talking to a counselor or psychiatrist to help you discover the underlying issue.
  • Talk to a medical professional. Especially if your stress seems out of control or is causing health concerns, consult your doctor to find a solution that is specifically for you.

Do you have other signs and symptoms?

Always keep up with your regular doctor's appointments to ensure underlying health issues are caught early on. Several common health issues include fatigue as a symptom or side effect. Common conditions that include fatigue as a symptom are:

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Even if you make lifestyle changes and improve your diet, you could still be missing several vital nutrients. Sometimes the issue can be fixed by incorporating a daily multivitamin into your regimen. Other times, your doctor may have you take measures that are specific to your case. Consult a medical professional or nutritionist before you begin any diet plan to ensure you are consuming the proper amount of vitamins and minerals.

Depression and anxiety

Even though it's natural to be down or upset sometimes, it's not normal for this feeling to persist day after day. Your upset mood qualifies as depression if the symptoms last at least two continuous weeks and affect your daily life. If these feelings result in severe nervousness, worry, and being afraid, the condition may also be considered a case of anxiety. Talk to your doctor if you believe have signs of depression or anxiety. They will send you to the right professionals, put you on a plan to get through the condition, and prescribe you proper treatment options.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

This condition causes severe tiredness but is not relieved by rest. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not believed to be caused by other medical conditions either. So what is proven about CFS?

Even though the cause has not been discovered, these facts are known about the syndrome:
  • Symptoms last at least six months
  • CFS causes challenges with daily functions such as home and work duties.
  • The most common age group affected are ages 30-50.
  • Women are at a higher risk to develop CFS than men.
  • Children and adolescents are not usually affected by the condition.
Other medical conditions that cause fatigue:
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart disease
  • Food intolerance
  • Anemia
  • Glandular fever
  • Urinary tract infection

Overall, tiredness can be overcome by lifestyle tweaks, diet changes, creating a consistent sleep pattern, and increasing your activity level. However, if these changes do not improve your energy levels, you may be suffering from fatigue. Fatigue is often related to underlying issues and medical concerns such as dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, depression or anxiety, CFS, and more. Keep your physician informed at all times, especially if you need help solving your case of tiredness.

If you are having trouble maintaining a solid sleep throughout the night, talk to your physician about a referral to a Sleep Clinic to help determine why you may not be able to sleep well. Visit the Sleep Clinic or call (540) 332-4169 for more information.