Do you feel tired all the time, drifting through most days in a sluggish state even if you’ve had a full night’s sleep? Fatigue disrupts your pep and vitality, your creativity, and interferes with your relationships. It also negatively impacts your ability to be a parent and to work productively each day. Unfortunately, fatigue has many different causes so it can be hard to track down the specific culprit. I’ve struggled with fatigue from time to time, so I want to go over some of the possible causes to your fatigue.
STRATEGIES FOR STRESS…
Common Causes of Fatigue
Lack of Sleep
The most obvious cause of fatigue is a lack of sleep. It’s estimated that 60 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation. Even if you do get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, various factors like your hormone levels can affect the quality of your sleep and make you feel less rested. Two key hormones involved in your sleep cycle are melatonin and cortisol. The levels of these hormones fluctuate throughout the day and are a determining factor of your sleep cycle.
Melatonin and Cortisol
Melatonin regulates the body’s internal biological clock and is most active in the evenings. There are receptors in the back of your eyes to sense when it’s dark and time to sleep, which increases the output of melatonin. However, production of melatonin can be easily disrupted by too much ambient light, working night shifts, or jet lag. When the production of melatonin is disrupted, so is your sleep cycle.
Cortisol signals your body to be awake and responsive. It’s produced by the adrenal hormones and is usually most active in the mornings. Certain factors such as chronic stress, lifestyle, diet, and other health issues can cause irregular cortisol levels which can negatively affect your sleep cycle.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but chronic stress will take a toll on your health and leave you feeling constantly fatigued. Stress-related cortisol spikes will disrupt your sleep, weaken your immune system, and strain your cardiovascular system. On the other hand, long-term stress taxes your adrenal glands which can lead to a depletion of cortisol and fatigue.
Your energy levels are determined by what you eat because your body converts the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that you eat into daily energy. Therefore, if your diet is less than ideal, it could become a cause of fatigue. A diet high in refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white breads, sugary desserts, sweetened sodas, and fruit juices can contribute to fatigue.
Fatigue can also stem from what you’re not eating. If you’re not eating a well-balanced diet consisting of colorful vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you could be deficient in essential nutrients. Micronutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate or folic acid, iron, and zinc are also necessary for a healthy sleep cycle, which is why diet is so important.
The thyroid gland affects almost every organ in the body, producing hormones that regulate nearly every bodily process from how fast your heart beats to how efficiently your intestines can absorb foods. The two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4, and their production is regulated by another hormone called the thyroid-stimulating hormone. If any of these hormones are out of balance, you will experience fatigue.
Hormonal changes leading up to, during, and after menopause can cause excessive fatigue. Estradiol, progesterone, thyroid, and adrenal hormones are involved with regulating energy at the cellular level. Menopause can cause these hormones to fluctuate at random, so if you’re going through menopause, make sure to get those hormones tested and balanced.
A low testosterone level in men and women is also linked to long-term fatigue. Testosterone has several important functions in the body, impacting many areas of health including bones and muscles, immunity system, fat distribution, heart health, blood sugar, metabolism, hair growth, and hair distribution.
How to Cope with Stress
Having coping strategies for stress is important. Make sure you have tools at the ready, like deep breathing exercises, meditation, and socializing with your loved ones.
Often, I have family members and patients who come to me with a long list of symptoms. Many of them say they feel fatigued and want to focus on getting their energy back. I always suggest addressing any issues with sleep, diet, and stress levels. I also recommend adaptogen herbs like ashwagandha, Rhodiola, holy basil, cordyceps, Schisandra, ginseng, and Eleutherococcus. These herbs help the adrenal glands combat stress, plus promote relaxation and sleep.
If your energy level is at a six, that’s not good enough. It needs to be at a nine or 10 because we only get one chance at this life and you should have the vitality to enjoy it fully. Zenith Labs has a supplement called Meditation in a Bottle which I often recommend to patients to make a difference in their energy levels. It will help you overcome fatigue and give you the energy to connect with your community, get creative, and be mindful of how you feel again.
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I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!