Regaining your energy could be simpler than you think. Start by seeing if you can relate to the top eight reasons for feeling drained.
Eight Causes of Fatigue and How to Fight Them
1. Diet. What you eat. Reaching for caffeine and sugar can backfire, leaving you more fatigued as your blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly. Instead, go for a balanced, healthy diet replete with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Most people feel like they’re less tired if they eat a healthy diet. Eating healthy also means you’ll carry less weight, and obesity is a big contributor to fatigue.
2. Lack of sleep. How much you sleep. You saw this one coming, right? Many people don’t get enough sleep. If you’re one of them, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours just before bedtime, turn off the TV before bed, and keep your bedroom quiet and restful.
3. Lack of exercise. How much you exercise. This is a biggie. We should exercise daily for at least 30 minutes. Finish at least three hours before bedtime, so you have time to wind down.
I know what you’re thinking. You think that if you exercise you will be more tired. It sounds logical, but it is far from the truth. Almost all the studies that have looked at this question have found the same thing: Sedentary people who start exercising feel much less fatigue than those who stay idle. It’s one of those surprising truths: Move more and you’ll become more energetic.
If 30 minutes sounds like too much, start with less and slowly increase. A month from now, you should notice improvement. Keep it up for three to six months, and you should feel much better.
Could It Be Something Else?
The most common reasons for feeling so tired all the time are those we’ve just discussed. Don’t assume you have a medical condition until you’ve tried those strategies and really given them a chance.
If you still feel exhausted, you should check with your health care provider. Chronic fatigue is linked to many different medical conditions, such as:
4. Anemia. This is a very common cause of fatigue and very easy to evaluate with a simple blood test. However, according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are more than 400 types of anemia. In general, the causes of these types of anemia can be divided into three groups:
• Anemia caused by blood loss.
• Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production.
• Anemia caused by destruction of red blood cells.
By far the most common type of anemia is iron deficiency. This is usually checked, but other types of anemia can go unchecked.
5. Deficiencies in key nutrients, such as potassium. Again, this is easily checked with blood testing.
6. Thyroid problems. Over- and under-active thyroids both can cause fatigue. A blood test for your level of thyroid-stimulating hormone can help evaluate your thyroid function. This is very common.
7. Diabetes. People who have uncontrolled diabetes just plain don’t feel good. There are also many people who have it “controlled” with medications but still are fatigued. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, you should be evaluated.
8. Depression. If your feelings of exhaustion are accompanied by sadness and loss of appetite, and you can’t find any pleasure in things you once enjoyed, you may be depressed. Don’t keep that to yourself. Let someone know. Depression is often a symptom of other problems such as thyroid conditions.
Start with the basics: sleep, diet, and activity level. Sometimes the simplest fixes are all it takes.