Why am I so tired?

I am not talking about feeling weary. I am talking about bone crushing fatigue even after a good night’s sleep or a relaxed holiday.

The body is a wonderful structure. If something is a bit off kilter, it will tell us, we must just listen. Fatigue is a terrific teacher. We have no choice but to slow down and review.  If we take heed and make corrections, then the body will restore itself. It wants to be well and function optimally.

So, if you are feeling tired all the time, it’s worthwhile trying to figure out why. The bulk of the causes can be found in neglected self care

Are you eating and sleeping well? Are you getting exercise? http://www.drmarcellestastny.co.za/lets-talk-about-exercise/

The main reason for fatigue amongst my patients is not getting enough sleep.    For a normal adult the sleep requirements are between 6 and 9 hours. If you are a macro sleeper (that is, you need 9 hours of sleep a night) and you are averaging 7 hours of sleep a night, then you are going to be sleep deprived. Your spouse might be a micro sleeper and feel completely refreshed with the same 7 hours.

How many hours sleep you are getting is important, but so is the quality of sleep. There are certain conditions which affect sleep quality. Sleep apnea, a condition where you “choke” all night can leave you exhausted. Another symptom of sleep apnea is noisy snoring. So if you wake up exhausted and your wife is exhausted because your snoring is keeping her awake; it would be worth an appointment with a sleep clinic to get it checked out. Allergies (symptom clue: congestion) can also disturb sleep quality. Too much alcohol or stimulants like caffeine or nicotine is guaranteed to mess with your sleep.

Food is our fuel. If your diet is poor or insubstantial, you are going to get blood sugar dips with head nodding fatigue. One of the early symptoms of diabetes is fatigue. Vegetarians are often depleted of vital nutrients such as the B-complex vitamins, iron, and folate- with knock-on effects of depleted energy.

Where does one start to try to address a problem with so many potential causes? My recommendation to you would be to pay careful attention to healthy lifestyle and self care, for a month. Make sure that you get enough sleep a night, eat healthily, exercise, cut back on alcohol and caffeine. If your energy isn’t starting to improve, speak to your doctor about it. He will then examine you for additional symptoms like sore joints, dry skin and other clues of illness and then run appropriate blood tests. Those chronic medications which we are so used to taking- antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquillizers- might well be adding to your sense of exhaustion. Whilst it is important to exclude biological causes for fatigue; the reality is that most often a cause cannot be found.

Now your strategy should be to play detective and find those energy thieves in your life. Is there someone in your life whom exhausts you everytime you are near them? My patients speak a lot of these “psychic vampires” and how to set appropriate boundaries with them.  What about your “soft addictions”- that which we use to zone out? Are you watching a series way into the night? Is the ping of social media, or that upsetting WhatsApp you read just before bedtime, keeping you awake?

Think of your energy as a petrol tank. Self care and healthy life style fills up the tank. Illnesses, imbalances and energy thieves empty the tank”

Sometimes the solution is obvious. Mostly it’s a complicated combination of factors. It is energy well spent to try to figure it out. The reward is renewed vitality.

Further reading:

  • www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/fatigue/basics/causes/
  • Medical  News Today. Fatigue: Why am I so tired? Sept 2015. C Nordqvist
  • www.sleepfoundation.org

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