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Counting Sheep Blog
Why Am I So Tired? Cracking the Code of Constant Fatigue
While we’re all about a good night’s sleep and the occasional nap here at Shepherd’s Dream, sometimes our energy battery has a hard time getting all the way filled up. And judging by the caffeine industry’s success—from coffee to energy beverages—we’re guessing that not having enough oomph is a very common issue.
It may be common, but it’s far from simple. There are numerous reasons for someone to feel tired in a way that isn’t explained by regular sleep cycles. And in our nonstop, 24/7, productivity-focused culture, it can feel like a problem when we don’t have enough energy to show up the way we’d like for our daily lives. (If you’re a parent of young children, you can just stop reading here and, please, go take a well deserved nap.)
Fatigue is markedly different from just being tired from time to time, because it’s a pattern often not helped by a good night’s sleep or periodic resting. Specific symptoms include low energy, lack of motivation, brain fog or feeling unfocused, and it can definitely affect important functions like your mood and appetite.
We’re listing several options below, and if any sound intriguing, we hope you’ll give it some more in-depth research.
The Hidden Culprits
Sometimes all it takes is some awareness and a few lifestyle tweaks to make a big difference. However, if you find that your fatigue is persistent or beginning to interfere with your enjoyment of daily life, please consult your physician as further investigation may be needed.
Sleep Apnea. A potentially serious condition of disrupted breathing during sleep, sleep apnea contributes to fatigue due to interrupted sleep. If you’re still tired after sleep or you snore loudly, this should definitely be discussed with your doctor.
Autoimmune Conditions & Inflammation. Many autoimmune conditions feature fatigue in common as a symptom. Unchecked inflammation creates an energy-preserving state in our body, and causes for it can range from dietary intolerances, environmental sensitivities, chronic viral or bacterial infections, and more. These conditions are not always well understood, but many people report some success with lifestyle and self-care practices like good nutrition, prioritizing sleep, daily movement, and stress management.
Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies. The two most common deficiencies related to fatigue are Iron and Vitamin B12, both of which can be diagnosed with a blood test at your practitioner’s office. A lack of iron is known as anemia, and this is often seen in athletes and women.
Overtraining. You can have too much of a good thing! Overtraining occurs when we don’t give our bodies adequate rest between heavy workouts or endurance sports sessions. Our nervous systems get frazzled and we can experience fatigue, depression, irritability, insomnia, and more. Rest is as important as the exercise. Learn more about cortisol and its role in our Healthy Sleep Series here.
Nutrition & Dehydration. Our body is programmed to require certain nutrients to function at its best. Fatigue can be caused by not eating enough food, not eating at the right time, eating detrimental foods like too much sugar or processed foods, or missing out on key components like protein or healthy carbohydrates. And we all know we need plenty of pure, clean water to drink, so be sure you’re hydrating, especially if you’re active.
Caffeine Misuse. We’ve written about this before, so be sure to check out our Healthy Sleep Series run-down on caffeine. Caffeine is a complex molecule, and the way it works in our bodies is not as simple as drinking it = energy. For example, it’s wise to wait for 1 ½ – 2 hours after waking before having your first cup of coffee. Why? Because the adenosine in our brain is blocked by caffeine, and when the buzz wears off mid-afternoon, that adenosine begins absorbing and making us sleepy again, which is exactly when lots of folks reach for more caffeine. So knowing how to use caffeine and being sure to give it 8-12 hours to clear from our system before bedtime is key.
Other Health Conditions. Many other health conditions can lead to fatigue as well, like depression, Type 2 diabetes, low thyroid, and chronic fatigue syndrome, among others. Focusing on self-care and getting good rest, nutrition, and stress management can ease some of the day-to-day energy issues.
Medications. If you’re managing a health condition and experiencing fatigue, there’s a good chance your medication could be a cause. Prescriptions for common ailments like allergies, depression, anxiety, blood pressure, and seizures are known to contribute to low energy. Talk to your prescribing physician to see if there’s a way to help.
Device Screens & Blue Light. Our phones and computers emit light mostly in the blue color range of the UV spectrum. That’s not exactly a bad thing, unless you get too much of it or it’s at night when our brains need darkness to begin producing melatonin (more on that here!). Eye strain from working for hours on a computer can cause irritated eyes, blurry vision, headaches, and—you guessed it—fatigue.
Practice the 20-20-20 exercise: Every 20 minutes or so, take your eyes away from your computer screen and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
We hope you’ve found this invigorating! Find us on Instagram and Pinterest, where we share about the wonders of wool and how to get a great night’s sleep for more energetic days. Until next time, sweet dreams!
THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this article, including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. No material here is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician or other qualified health care practitioner with any questions or concerns you may have for your care.