Feeling Tired All the Time? It Might Be Fatigue!
We all feel tired at one point or another. However, if you experience persistent fatigue and lack of energy, it may be time to take a closer look at the causes of your exhaustion.
As we go about our busy days, we sometimes forego the opportunities for proper rest, exercise, and nutrition. Because of this, we may experience this nagging feeling of tiredness from time to time — sometimes even after we have just woken up from a night’s sleep.
In most cases, this can be resolved with a power nap or by scheduling several consecutive nights of good sleep. However, if you’re experiencing constant tiredness or exhaustion, it might be time to take a closer look at the symptoms.
What Is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a general term that refers to a state of exhaustion or a lack of energy. It’s not the same experience as when you just feel sleepy or drowsy. When you are fatigued, you likewise lack the motivation and energy to do your daily tasks. While being sleepy is a symptom of fatigue, it’s not synonymous with it.
Fatigue comes with persistent and limiting tiredness. It's similar to how you feel when you're sick or haven't slept well. If you suffer from chronic fatigue or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), you may wake up feeling as if you haven't even slept at all.
What Causes Fatigue?
Fatigue is a typical symptom of a wide variety of medical conditions — ranging in severity from mild to severe. Additionally, it is a natural result of certain lifestyle choices, such as inactivity or a poor diet. Aside from living a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough sleep, here are some other potential reasons why you may be feeling tired all the time:
Not Consuming Enough Calories
Your body needs a sufficient number of calories to function normally. When you consume insufficient calories, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy, which may result in fatigue.
Keep in mind that our bodies operate within a certain caloric range depending on our weight, height, age, and other factors. To maintain your energy levels, avoid drastic calorie reductions, even if your goal is weight loss.
Eating Too Many Foods with Refined Carbs
Carbohydrates can provide an immediate source of energy. When you consume them, your body converts them to sugar, which can then be used as fuel.
However, consuming an excessive amount of refined carbs can actually make you feel tired throughout the day. When sugar and processed carbs are consumed, your blood sugar levels rapidly rise. This signals your pancreas to produce an abundance of insulin in order to transport the sugar from your bloodstream to your cells. This elevation — and subsequent decline — in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling exhausted.
Insufficient Protein Intake
Like calories, consuming an adequate amount of protein is critical for maintaining a healthy metabolism and avoiding fatigue. Research suggests that branched-chain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, further help alleviate fatigue.
Unhealthy Sleeping Patterns
It’s not enough that you get the right hours of sleep. According to studies, chronic fatigue may develop when your sleep pattern is out of sync with your circadian rhythm, which is our body’s biological response to light and darkness based on a 24-hour cycle. As such, it can be a problem for those who work at night.
Aside from sleeping at the right time, sleep should be restful and uninterrupted to allow your brain to complete all five stages of each sleep cycle. To optimize both the number of hours and the quality of your sleep, go to bed at approximately the same time each night, try to relax before sleeping, and engage in plenty of activity during the day.
There are many other factors that can contribute to fatigue, and these can be attributed to lifestyle factors, mental health issues, and physical health conditions. Bear in mind that fatigue is a symptom and not a disease or a condition. To alleviate fatigue, you must first understand its underlying causes.
If your fatigue does not go away after adequate rest and nutrition, or if you suspect it is caused by an underlying physical or mental health condition, make sure to consult your doctor. They can assist you in determining the source of your fatigue and working with you to treat it.