Tired of being tired: 6 ways to fight fatigue
Taking ownership of your health will be key to help you live your best life. If you suffer from chronic fatigue, it becomes increasingly difficult to feel and look your best.
Understanding the root causes of fatigue and discussing with your clinicians may be exactly what is needed to get you back on your path to success.
Better quality sleep: Most people know you need 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but getting quality sleep is just as important. First, you want to make sure you don’t have sleep apnea, which can hurt your ability to get a good night’s rest. You also need to prepare well for sleep. You can discuss getting a sleep study with your clinician, especially if you snore, to evaluate whether you have sleep apnea. To help you get enough sleep, have a consistent sleep time, avoid screen time at night, sleep in cooler temperatures and make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible at night.
More activity: Human bodies were meant to move. Movement is the key to avoid feeling sluggish and maintaining a healthy weight. An additional benefit of exercise is the release of endorphins, which can boost your stamina and lift your mood. Just ask any runner. For those who have not exercised recently, ease into it. Although you might feel tired as you start your exercise routine, your body will adjust to moving more. And you can move by periodically standing at work instead of sitting all day, walking more and considering high intensity interval exercises if appropriate.
Better diet: I have personally learned that the combination of intermittent fasting (IF), drinking plenty of water and avoiding starchy, sugary food has resulted in more energy. Your body spends a lot of energy during the day on digestion. Imagine if you skipped one meal. The saved energy can then be used for more important bodily functions like thinking and being more productive. Did you know that all the cells in your body require water to function properly? Just by avoiding dehydration, your energy level could rise. Combining IF and adequate hydration with a diet with less sugar/starch and more healthy fats will help your body transition to using fat as its fuel, avoiding the sugar spikes and drops (causing fatigue) that are common with high-carbohydrate diets.
Fight anemia: Red blood cells carry your body’s supply of energy containing oxygen to your body. When you’re anemic, your level of these cells is diminished, resulting in fatigue. Whether from blood loss, poor diet or vitamin deficiencies (B12/folate), if you are anemic, identifying the root cause and correcting it may be all that is needed to resolve fatigue-related anemia. You can get your levels of hemoglobin (CBC), vitamin B12 and folate checked and use supplements if you are deficient.
Less stress: Have you ever noticed that when you are under a lot of stress or feel depressed, it zaps your energy? Instead of addressing your source of stress, you might get depressed. That can result in low motivation to do anything. It’s a vicious cycle. The first step is the recognition that you feel the way you do. Turn your source of stress or depressed mood into a problem-solving exercise. Make a goal of doing one achievable action daily. For example, if you listen to a motivational video daily, you will end each week with more tools to help you overcome whatever is bothering you. Let your clinician know when you have these conditions to get additional help.
Better gut health: Imagine if your gut is simply not absorbing the vital nutrients your body needs to provide the energy you need. If your feeling of fatigue is also associated with bloating, cramping or diarrhea, you may have leaky gut syndrome. Caused by prescription medication, antibiotics, processed foods or even nuts and seeds, a leaky gut can cause poor absorption of nutrients. Heal your gut by avoiding sugar and adding fermented foods (Kombucha/sauerkraut), probiotics, bone (beef/chicken) broths, plenty of vegetables and healthy fats.
Spring into action by taking the steps described above and work with your clinician to get any needed tests or referrals to other specialized health care professionals for your particular case.
Want to learn more about your risk for sleep apnea? Take our free, quick online risk assessment by clicking here.
About the Author
Dr. Tony Hampton, MBA, CPE is Board Certified in Obesity Medicine and Family Medicine. He currently is the physician lead for Advocate's Healthy Living Program as well as Regional Medical Director for the South Region of Advocate's Medical Group. He is an inspirational public speaker, blogger, coach, and has authored a book entitled Fix Your Diet, Fix Your Diabetes. He has led multiple programs and works with AdvocateAurora to coach patients on their journey to achieve their health care goals by balancing nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, increased sleep, and needed medical interventions. He believes that a shift is needed in healthcare where we all work together focus on prevention and wellness. He is married and a father of two college-aged boys.