5 Common Reasons for Tiredness
1. What you eat. A shot of caffeine and sugar can seem like quick fix when you need an energy boost, but it soon makes things worse. After your blood sugar levels spike, they crash. You end up more fatigued, not less.
A far better solution is a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.
“Most people feel like they're less tired if they eat a healthy diet," says J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD. He's a past president of the American College of Physicians. "Eating healthy also means you'll carry less weight, and obesity is a big contributor to fatigue.”
2. How much water you drink. Instead of that caffeine-filled, sugary drink, try a glass of water.
Mild dehydration affects your mood, and it makes you feel more tired, research shows. It can set in when you drink just a little less water than you normally do.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that men get about 125 ounces of water a day and women get 91 ounces. Those amounts include water from all foods and beverages.
3. How much you sleep.
Ideal is 7 to 9 hours of sleep time. Avoid caffeine,and large meals in the hours just before bedtime. Turn off the TV and unplug the computer before you turn in. Also, go to bed at the same time each night and keep your bedroom quiet and dark.
4. How much you exercise. Studies show that when inactive people start to work out, they feel much less fatigue than those who stay idle. When you move more, you not only use more energy, you also have more on a daily basis.
Start with 30 minutes of exercise at least 4 days a week. Be sure to finish at least 3 hours before bedtime, so you have time to wind down. After a month, you should notice improvement in your fatigue. Within 3 to 6 months, you should feel much better.
5. What you do to handle stress. Stress is a fact of life. Fatigue sets in when you have more than you can handle. The first step in changing the way you deal with stress is to figure out your body’s stress signals -- aside from feeling fatigued, you might be angry, headachy, tense, or unable to focus.
Once you know how stress affects you, you can teach yourself to control it. Proven ways to limit the toll stress takes on you include:
Short, regular periods of meditation
Talks with friends or family about your challenges
Regular breaks from work
Taking time for yourself
Could It Be Something Else?
If you’ve taken steps to address all five of the most common causes of fatigue and you still feel worn out, visit your doctor.
Chronic tiredness is linked to medical conditions including these:
anemia or a lack of iron in the blood, is a common cause of fatigue, and it's easy to check with a simple blood test
An iron-rich diet that's heavy in meats and dark, leafy greens can correct low levels of iron. Ask your doctor if an iron supplement might help, too. Other key nutrients that can hold off fatigue include potassium and vitamins D and B12.
Thyroid problems. Both an over- and an underactive thyroid can cause fatigue. A blood test can help a doctor find out how well your thyroid's working.
Diabetes. People who have uncontrolled diabetes "just plain don't feel good,. "If you feel draggy and you're also having blurred vision or lots of urination, you should get that checked with a blood test."
Depression. If your feelings of exhaustion are accompanied by sadness and loss of appetite, and you just can't find any pleasure in things you once enjoyed, you might be depressed. Don't keep it to yourself. Your doctor, or a therapist, can start you on the path back to feeling better.
Sleep problems. Many different sleep issues can keep you from feeling rested and energized. Talk to your doctor about a sleep evaluation, especially if you snore, since that could point to a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which briefly stops your breathing several times a night. Like other sleep disorders, it’s treatable.
Undiagnosed heart disease. Ongoing tiredness can be a warning sign of heart trouble, “If you have trouble with exercise you used to do easily, or if you start feeling worse when you exercise, this could be a red flag for heart trouble. If you have any doubts, see your doctor.”
© 2015 WebMD, LLC.
Dr. Nadira Mehriban
Dept. of Public Health