Sneaky Causes Of Low Energy Fatigue And Exhaustion
Do you remember what it felt like to be a kid just chock-full of energy?
For most of us, childhood is a time of boundless vitality and staminawhere we could run and play for hours without feeling tired.
Then young adulthood hits, and aside from the all-nighters studying most young adults have no trouble bouncing back from a little fatigue.
Next we hit our late-twenties and early thirties, and thats when a certain level of low-grade fatigue starts to plague all too many people.
And if you have children and a career, that fatigue can quickly escalate to a state of chronic exhaustion.
But, just because nearly everyone over thirty is walking around glued to their coffee mugs complaining about being tired all the time, doesnt mean that it is normal.
The fact is, unless you have a child waking you up several times a night or are going through a very stressful time, you should have plenty of energy to spare.
Yet most people slog through their days utterly exhausted and completely reliant on caffeine and other stimulants to get them through.
Is It Possible That I Have Pots And Was Incorrectly Diagnosed
This is entirely possible. Given how common POTS symptoms are and how unfamiliar many doctors are with this condition, diagnostic mishaps happen. POTS is frequently misidentified as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, anxiety disorder, ADHD, irritable bowel syndrome, myositis, etc. It is also possible that you have both POTS and one of these conditions, which may complicate the diagnosis. Sometimes people with POTS are told that its all in your head, implying that the cause of their symptoms is psychological. If you feel like something is physically wrong, dont hesitate to seek a second, and even a third or fourth opinion.
COVID-19 and POTS: Is There a Link?
Although many people recover quickly from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, others who recover may continue to experience symptoms for months. Researchers are still determining the cause of these extended symptoms, but some COVID-19 “long-haulers” may actually be dealing with POTS.
Not Eating Enough Protein
If you are lacking high-quality protein in your diet, you may experience low levels of energy.
If you eat high-quality proteins that have branched-chain amino acids, you are more likely to be able to experience sustained energy throughout the day. Some foods that fit this bill include chicken, fish, eggs, lima beans, whole wheat, corn, and lentils.
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How Can I Feel Less Tired
Some changes to your lifestyle can make you feel less tired. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep a fatigue diary to help you find patterns throughout the day when you feel more or less tired.
- Exercise regularly. Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. If you have concerns about starting an exercise program, ask your doctor if there are any activities you should avoid. Moderate exercise may improve your appetite, energy, and outlook. Some people find that exercises combining balance and breathing improve their energy.
- Try to avoid long naps late in the day. Long naps can leave you feeling groggy and may make it harder to fall asleep at night. Read A Good Nights Sleep for tips on getting better rest at night.
- Stop smoking.Smoking is linked to many diseases and disorders, such as cancer, heart disease, and breathing problems, which can drain your energy.
- Ask for help if you feel swamped. Some people have so much to do that just thinking about their schedules can make them feel tired. Working with others may help a job go faster and be more fun.
When To See A Doctor About Being Tired All The Time
While making certain lifestyle tweaks could help with your fatigue, its unlikely to do much if youre struggling with an underlying health condition. In those situations, youll need to seek help from a medical professional.
Of course, that can be tricky to detect on your own. So, when should you seek medical attention? If fatigue is persistent, and it is disrupting daily tasks, work productivity, or limiting your participation in enjoyable activities, it may be time to speak to your doctor, Dr. Waters says.
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Wrong Foods At The Wrong Time
Now we are moving out of the health and nutrition causes for womens low energy, and were moving into some lifestyle elements. First up, food!
Women lead busy lives. Sometimes one of the first things a woman will let go of is eating a meal. When youre rushing to get out the door on time, breakfast may be the last thing on your mind. Or if youre trying to finish a deadline, you may forego the actual lunch part of lunch hour.
Thats all a big mistake for your energy levels.
What times are you feeling the most sluggish throughout the day? 2 or 3? Youre probably either skipping lunch or youre not choosing filling protein-rich or fiber-rich items. Does late morning force you to have a third cup of coffee ? Then youre probably not getting enough at breakfast.
The goal is to eat regularly and to choose foods that will sustain your energy instead of giving you a sugar crash.
That bowl of cereal may taste delicious at 7am, but how does it make you feel at 10:30am? Probably starving and mentally crashed.
How to Fix It: Eat! Take some extra time to plan out your breakfasts and lunches before the week begins, so busyness doesnt take over. Then choose foods with lots of protein, fiber, and healthy fat for breakfast and lunch. Here are some of my favorite breakfast ideas:
- Berry, spinach, and protein powder smoothie
- Avocado toast with a handful of nuts
- Veggie omelet
- Quinoa salad with a zesty chicken breast
- Black bean burger and side salad
- Dinner leftovers
Too Many Energy Drinks
Drinking too much caffeine, especially in the afternoon, can certainly interfere with your sleep. Energy drinks actually have more caffeine in them than a cup of coffee, and they are also full of sugar.
The high amount of vitamin B in energy drinks will give you a quick fix if you feel your energy starting to drop, but it will lead to a subsequent plummet in energy later in the day.
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Sleeping At The Wrong Time
In addition to inadequate sleep, sleeping at the wrong time can reduce your energy.
Sleeping during the day instead of at night disrupts your bodys circadian rhythm, which are the biological changes that occur in response to light and darkness during a 24-hour cycle.
Research has found that when your sleep pattern is out of sync with your circadian rhythm, chronic fatigue may develop .
This is a common problem among people who perform shift or night work.
Sleep experts estimate that 25% of all shift workers suffer from a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness or disrupted sleep over a period of one month or more .
Whats more, even staying awake during the night for a day or two can cause fatigue.
In one study, healthy young men were allowed to sleep either seven hours or just under five hours before being kept awake for 2123 hours. Their fatigue ratings increased before and after sleep, regardless of the number of hours they slept .
Its best to sleep during the night whenever possible.
However, if your job involves shift work, there are strategies to retrain your body clock, which should improve your energy levels.
In one study, shift workers reported significantly less fatigue and better mood after being exposed to bright light pulses, wearing dark sunglasses outside and sleeping in total darkness (
Using glasses to block blue light may also help people who perform shift work.
Inadequate protein intake could be contributing to your fatigue.
Your Allergies Are Acting Up
There are classic symptoms of seasonal allergies, like sneezing and having watery eyes. Then there are lesser-known symptoms, like low energy and fatigue. If left untreated, seasonal allergies can cause fatigue, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy & Asthma Network. Why? Your body is working hard to fend off the allergen, and that requires extra energy. Thats true whether you have allergies to stuff outside, like ragweed or pollen, or have issues with indoor allergens like dust mites, Dr. Parikh says.
Its not just the allergens that can trigger fatigue issuesallergy medications can, too. Some of the over-the-counter allergy pills like antihistamine unfortunately cause fatigue as well, Dr. Parikh says.
How to fix it: Struggling with being tired due to allergies is a sign that your current treatment plan isnt working for you, Dr. Parikh notes. So, check in with your doctor about your options. Theyll likely recommend medication to help get things under control. Running a HEPA air purifier in your home can also help get rid of allergens at your place, Dr. Parikh adds.
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Youre Skimping On Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should be getting between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Definitely getting less? Enter the fatigue.
Minimum seven hours of sleep is required for effective rejuvenation of the body and restfulness of the brain, Dr. Khan says. Heres the thing: Even one night of bad sleep can mess with your circadian rhythm and throw you off for a few days, she says.
How to fix it: At baseline, the solution is simply to get more sleep. But, of course, sometimes thats easier said than done. You need to first figure out whats screwing up your sleepstress? Netflix? Crappy sleep hygiene?and then address the reason for your lack of sleep. If youre still struggling, talk to your doctor about your options. You may need an intervention such as cognitive behavioral therapy to treat insomnia, for example.
Too Hot Or Too Cold In Bed
If youre too hot or too cold to get to sleep, this is going to affect the quality of sleep you manage to get overnight.
Its also going to leave you feeling less than refreshed come the morning. Getting a comfortable nights sleep can be more challenging during the hottest months says Thom Hemelryk founder of the Drowsy sleep company.
Increased temperatures make it harder for us to drift off and mean we toss and turn more than the usual. But then sleeping with the windows open also increases outside light and noises that can keep us up.
Thom says the key to how to sleep in the heat is all about regulating your body temperature, Your body temperature naturally peaks in the evening and then drops when you are asleep. Even slight changes to your normal patterns can be disruptive. So, its important to be aware of your temperature patterns and prepare accordingly.
He suggests these 3 hacks for summer temperature control:
- Invest in a good fan, it keeps the temperature down and blocks out external noise.
- Sleep with a light cotton sheet instead of a quilt. If temperatures really soar, try rinsing it in water to keep you cool.
- Dont sleep naked as this could actually make you hotter.
- Have your own bedding! In the winter it might be great to cuddle up to your partner to keep warm, but in the summer the heat from your two bodies can make you more uncomfortable. Regulate things by having separate bedding for both of you.
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Questions A Doctor May Ask Include The Following:
- Do you feel drowsy or weak?
- Do you feel down or depressed?
- Has your fatigue developed slowly or suddenly?
- Is it cyclical or constant?
- What do you think the cause might be?
- Have you experienced any significant life events recently?
- Is your life in balance? Consider work, relationships, physical, emotional, social, sense of worth and recreation.
Work And Money Worries
Its not new to us that worrying about our jobs and our finances makes us feel exhausted. But a study has confirmed that work and money worries can also cause sleep problems, saying that nearly 1 in 3 of us are having problems sleeping more than once a week. And those who took part in the study said work and money worries were the biggest problems when it comes to nodding off.
Try setting some time aside with your boss or manager to talk through your concerns if youre stressed about work. If youre feeling overworked or not supported, and they should be able to help you. Even a small step like this will make you feel like you are doing something about it and youll feel better.
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Youre Overdoing It On Sugar And Refined Carbs
When you eat things that are sugary or high in refined carbs , it causes your blood sugar to spike, explains Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. In the moment, that can make you feel kinda hyper. But, unfortunately, all of that sugar and carbs will lead to an inevitable crash. That can leave you feeling tired, Cording says.
If you continue overloading on a ton of sugar and refined carbs, you can also cause something known as insulin resistance in your body, Dr. Khan adds, which is when your body cant use glucose as well as it should. The result: You feel tired a lot.
How to fix it: Try to cut back on how much sugar and refined carbs youre having on a regular basis, Cording says. FWIW, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting your intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.
When youre going to have sugary or carb-filled foods, try to balance out the meal with some protein and fat, like adding nut butter atop your crackers. This can help lower the odds youll have an energy crash afterward, Cording notes.
Underactive Thyroid And Fatigue
Symptoms: Extreme fatigue, sluggishness, feeling run-down, depression, cold intolerance, weight gain
The problem may be a slow or underactive thyroid. This is known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the base of your neck. It helps set the rate of metabolism, which is the rate at which the body uses energy.
According to the American Thyroid Foundation, about 17% of all women will have a thyroid disorder by age 60. And most won’t know it. The most common cause is an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s stops the gland from making enough thyroid hormones for the body to work the way it should. The result is hypothyroidism, or a slow metabolism.
Blood tests known as T3 and T4 will detect thyroid hormones. If these hormones are low, synthetic hormones can bring you up to speed, and you should begin to feel better fairly rapidly.
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How To Get To Sleep In The Heat On A Summer Night
Our dreams stem from our daily reality, meaning when something scary happens, we are more likely to carry that anxiety into our dreams. And lets face it: todays world of dont-go-anywhere-without-a-mask-and-social-distance-everything can be the reason youre having unusual dreams.People Who Sleep explain, Our heightened anxiety and lack of activity we are currently facing will also likely affect our sleep quality and encourage weird dreams.
Practising pre-bedtime relaxation techniques like guided sleep meditation can help keep anxiety-driven thoughts out of your sweet dreams.
Exercise Can Help Counter The Effects Of Fatigue
Exercise can often help relieve the effects of fatigue, especially more short-lived, acute forms of fatigue. Remaining physically active is important for patients with CFS, however, the approach to exercise must be individualized since exercise can cause the symptoms to become worse for some people. Other things that may help: better hydration, better diet, relaxation, and, of course, more rest and better sleep.
Caffeine and other stimulants may help fight fatigue in the short term, but longer-term, they may actually contribute to the problem.
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You Have An Issue With Gluten
In case youre not familiar with it, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. In some people, gluten damages the small intestine and causes symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and yep, fatigue, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
Celiac disease can also cause long-term digestive issues and keep you from getting the nutrients you need, and in turn, cause ongoing fatigue.
How to fix it: Celiac disease can be a tricky one to diagnose, but after doing a physical exam, your doctor may recommend you take a blood test and undergo an intestinal biopsy to look for inflammation in your small intestine. If you are diagnosed with Celiac disease, youll need to avoid foods containing gluten in the future.
Is Pots More Common In Certain People
There are no established risk factors for POTS. However, it is known to run in families, so it could have a genetic component. Researchers have also established a link between POTS and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome . So if you have one of these conditions, you might also have the other.
A big group of those diagnosed with POTS is young women and teens. However, this doesnt mean they are more likely to develop this condition.
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