Why am I so tired?
I know so many people who are exhausted. Completely and utterly exhausted. My friends, my patients, my work colleagues, often myself.
Fatigue, exhaustion, burnout – it seems to be the chronic disease of our time and I find it quite depressing thinking about it and its impact on our ability to not only work, produce and succeed in life but also to enjoy life, enjoy our families and enjoy ourselves.
The first step in ‘fighting fatigue’ begins with finding the underlying cause of the fatigue, finding out why you are so tired. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said than done.
So let's start with the very basics...
Is your lifestyle making you tired?
Start by looking at your daily habits.
Are you a parent who works a full day in the office, comes home to cook and clean, put your kids to bed and then...sit down at your computer to do a few more hours work...often until after midnight? If yes, then there is your reason for being so tired.
To be honest, how on earth can anyone live like this and not be tired?
If you think you can survive on 3-4 hours sleep then read my blog, One Good Reason to Sleep, and hopefully you will start making sleep a priority.
Similarly, do you have only a coffee for breakfast, skip lunch, have a chocolate or some chips late afternoon and then usually pasta for dinner? If yes, then of course you will be tired!
You need to eat for energy. You need to fuel your body. Think about running a car - if you don't put fuel into the car, it's going to stop moving. It's exactly the same with your body. Just as you need to ensure you're getting enough sleep, you also need to ensure you're eating enough food to sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
Is an underlying health condition causing your fatigue?
If you can’t find the cause of your fatigue in your lifestyle, then you need to start looking at common health conditions that cause fatigue.
Visit your doctor for a full check-up and ask him or her to run the necessary tests to investigate the following common conditions that are all associated with fatigue.
Common Health Conditions Associated With Fatigue
- Anaemia – low iron levels are common in growing children, menstruating or pregnant women and vegetarians and they cause fatigue, decreased immunity, headaches and dizziness.
- Hypothyroidism – this is a major cause of fatigue, especially if that fatigue is accompanied by weight gain, dry skin and hair, constipation and depression.
- Infection – I feel I am opening a can of worms when I mention this topic. There are so many pathogens that can cause chronic fatigue as a consequence but the most common are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii (Lyme Disease), Epstein Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus and chronic lung or gut infections. Your doctor will be able to help you investigate these.
- Low vitamin B levels – the B-vitamins are responsible for maintaining your nervous system, mental health and energy metabolism. I like to call them the ‘stress vitamins’ because they are quickly used up by your body in times of stress. If you are going through a stressful time or have experienced a great deal of stress in your life, then ask your doctor to check your vitamin-B levels.
- Low vitamin D levels – although not really an ‘energy’ related nutrient, low levels of vitamin D negatively affect the absorption of many minerals and result in muscular weakness and bone pain as well as depression. If you are struggling with ongoing fatigue accompanied by a lot of aches and pains or muscular weakness, then have your vitamin D levels tested. This is especially important if you do not get enough sunshine. For example, if you work night shifts, live in a highly polluted city or spend far too many hours in the office.
What else can be making you so tired?
If your doctor has ruled out any health conditions that may be making you tired, yet you are still struggling with chronic fatigue, then you need to ‘throw the net wider’ and start looking at other causes of fatigue.
Lesser-known Causes of Constant Tiredness
- Medications – unfortunately lethargy and fatigue are a common side effect of many medications. Medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, reflux/heartburn, antibiotics, antihistamines, antidepressants and those used to treat anxiety and insomnia are all known to have fatigue as a side effect (Neel, 2012). Never take yourself off a prescribed medication as this can be dangerous, but instead talk to your doctor who may be able to adjust your dosage or prescribe an alternative to what you are taking.
- Chronic inflammation, dysbiosis or an unhealthy microbiome, leaky gut and food intolerances are all associated with fatigue as well as joint pain, allergies, headaches and so many other health conditions. If you're wanting to learn more about gut health and how you can look after your own gut, then have a look at my collection of blogs on just this topic >
- Menstrual problems – many women struggle with painful, heavy or too frequent periods and long term these problems can be utterly exhausting and even debilitating. Unfortunately, the more exhausted you become, the more irregular and difficult your cycle will be so it is very important that you focus on good nutrition and a healthy routine in order to keep your menstrual cycle as balanced as possible.
- Menopause - chronic fatigue is also common in menopausal women whose sleep often becomes disrupted by hot flushes or night sweats. For hints and tips on how to survive menopause, read my blog, Managing Menopause Naturally.
If you eliminate all of the above as possible causes and are still exhausted, then you need to start exploring the deeper reasons for your fatigue - often these are more than simply pathophysiological.
This is what we explore in my online program, The Art of Creating Energy. This in-depth program only runs twice a year so join the wait list and you'll be the first to know when doors are open for enrolment. Click here to join the waitlist now >
I hope this blog's given you some options to start exploring the cause of why you're tired all the time. Here's a summary of the action steps you can take today.
Take action today:
Start by getting a good night's sleep and making sure you're eating well.
If you're already doing this and still tired, follow my 3-step process to getting back your energy:
- Rule out any medical conditions that may be causing you to feel so tired.
- Go through your pantry and throw out foods and drinks that make, or keep, you tired.
- Take an honest look at the foods you are eating - do they build health and create energy?
To save you time and energy, I've put everything you need to do in these three steps into one easy-to-follow guide. It's for free so enjoy!