Being tired is a feeling that comes from a long day or a sleepless night. It’s easy to find a cause and easy enough to fix. Fatigue, on the other hand, is a much larger feeling. It’s a drop in energy that you can’t bounce back from and may indicate a larger, underlying cause from your body or mind. We found the most common reasons for fatigue and how you can break the cycle.
Why are you fatigued?
Breaking the cycle of fatigue
Hally Rhiannon-Nammu is a highly educated Behavioural & Neuro Metaphysics Therapist from The WellBeing Practice, with over 10 years experience in comprehensive healing and support. She has studied the brain’s relationship with sleep, anger and anxiety and found some interesting results when it comes to fatigue:
“Fatigue comes from a reduction of available energy. Common areas that can cause this include: stress, anxiety, depression, food, physical issues, etc.
However, there is a specific link between anxiety, sleep and anger. This is through the neurological response to a form of stress that may even be categorized as trauma.
This “trauma” is repeated again and again, absorbing the readily available energy, leaving you with depleted resources and an inability to effectively revitalize. This then turns to a cycle of quick fixes and poor solutions.
Often this “trauma” comes from external forces however, becomes ingrained into being your fault. This can include repeating the same patterns in relationships, family dynamics, self-loathing/worth, etc. The purpose of making this your fault is to remove the feeling of helplessness from the situation i.e. regaining control. But, this only inhibits you from moving forward and the memory of the situation repeats within over and over.
As such, this “trauma” is, in no better terms, a form of pain, and while in this state, you will remain in survival mode, seeking forms of safety and escape; yet nothing really helping.
The answer is to begin on the road to the core of ‘why’. The ‘why’ is the awareness to what is going on, providing clarity and creating the opportunity to move out of the pain and start to reconnect your natural energy back into you as a whole.
The top 3 culprits
If you’re searching the web for reasons that you’re supremely tired, other than swapping sleep for the dancefloor, then you’ve probably come across the same answers again and again. But what do they mean? We had Chiropractor Ellen Riboli help us with these 3 common causes:
“1- Stress and adrenal fatigue
The function of your adrenal glands is to produce cortisol during times of stress. During periods of constant stress your adrenals become overworked and fatigued, leaving your body to not cope with stress the way it should do. Adrenal fatigue may be an underlying factor for people who constantly wake during the night.
2- Iodine deficiency and thyroid health
Iodine is essential for producing thyroid hormones. Your thyroid is responsible for hormone control. Hypothyroidism - meaning low levels of thyroid hormones may result in constant state of tiredness. Other symptoms may include weight fluctuation, feeling cold and hair loss.
3- Bad sleeping habits
Sleep cycles are regulated by a hormone called melatonin. This is responsible for telling your body and brain when it is night and day. Red light found in screens can disrupt melatonin levels giving an input into your brain that it is daylight, particularly if you are using mobile phones or computers before bed.”
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Eating your way to tired
If food equals energy then why are you still tired? Perhaps because you’re making bad diet choices. Anything that our body converts straight to sugar is going to give you a quick boost of energy follow by a major crash. It may not surprise you to hear that white bread, soft drinks and pre-packaged foods are on the bad list. But how about fruit juices, dried fruit and most breakfast cereals? Avoiding a diet high in these foods is your best bet.
Being constantly busy
Every day should not feel like a race to the finish line. Kandice Williams’ website All For Herself is full of recipes, advice and products to help mums find the time to take a break and recharge. She believes one of the major causes of fatigue is a fully-packed schedule day in, day out:
“Overwhelm and Mental Stress - As a working Mum with three kids the never ending to-do list, social organisation for the whole, calendar, chef, nurse and general note taker leaves me completely fatigued by the end of the day!
I use the hour before my family wakes up in the morning to take some time for myself, I use the time to go for a walk, have a healthy breakfast or get myself ready for the day.
Giving myself some time at the start of the day sets me up for a positive and productive day. It helps me be a happy Mum creating a happy and supportive home for my family.”
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How to fight fatigue
Eat a well-balanced diet
High-sugar foods and drinks aren’t helping give you long-lasting energy. Swap them out for a diet full of whole grains, fruits, veggies and protein. Here’s a few easy and delicious to keep you fuller for longer:
- Trade white bread for rye or brown toast in the morning
- Eat a bowl of whole oats for breakfast
- Snack on cheese, almonds or greek yoghurt for a protein fix
- Munch on apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter for a mix of fruit/veggies and some protein
Check out our healthy lunch recipe blog for more foodie inspiration.
Improve your sleep quality
You’re getting those 8-hours but still waking up like a zombie, what gives? Even when you head to bed nice and early, a high quantity of sleep is useless without it being good quality. Classic mistakes like using your phone or computer just before turning out the lights will disrupt your brain sleep patterns, as Ellen explains above. The first step is getting a proper bedtime routine; one that doesn’t include watching movies till your eyes shut themselves. Next, try upgrading your bedroom into an ideal space for sleep. Little inclusions like a bedside table or a blanket box make all the difference. Use the table to for a glass of water, lamp and great books and keep extra blankets nearby so you’re always the right temperature. If you struggle with hot and cold a lot then try a modern memory-foam mattress which are designed to be temperature neutral.
Stay fit to support your body
When you’re tired all the time the last thing on your to-do list is exercise. But what if a lack of fitness is just adding to your fatigue? Regular exercise improves our sleep quality and actually increases our energy reserves. Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Scientist, Louisa Sammartino, says that keeping fit is your secret to sorting out fatigue:
“Keeping physically active through regular exercise can boost your energy levels leaving you feeling more invigorated and vibrant. Exercise improves the efficiency of your heart, lungs and muscles to ensure your body is conditioned and operating optimally. To ensure you are getting what your body needs physically, the recommendations for exercise are at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity plus two strength training sessions per week is what is required for overall health and wellbeing.”
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Fatigue is more than just tiredness but it’s not as complex at it looks. Changing up your diet and getting better sleep could be all you need to get back to your best. However, long-term fatigue may be a sign of something larger at play and it’s always recommended to consult your doctor if small lifestyle changes have little effect.