We all feel tired sometimes. Maybe you stayed up late to watch television, worked through the night, or wake up every few hours to a crying baby. It's normal to be tired after something like that. But if you rely on coffee or soda every day to boost yourself and you 're still exhausted, it's time to investigate what's going on.
Symptoms of fatigue are usually obvious. A prolonged feeling of exhaustion that saps your strength and causes a mental fog. You feel sluggish, constantly tired and weak , as if everything takes more effort and you can be moody.
It depends on what is causing your fatigue. Sometimes you need medical treatment. But start with these lifestyle changes and see if they help.
Get rid of technology at bedtime. Cell phones, tablets and other gadgets that keep you connected to the world disrupt your natural sleep-wake cycle.
Caffeine will crash you. The caffeine in coffee and energy drinks gives you a short-term boost, but you can crash when the effect wears off. Also switch to decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon and evening. That way you won't have to count sheep at night.
Skip the vending machine. Junk food is full of "empty" calories. You might feel pepped up for a while, but sugary snacks will put you in a slump. Choose smart snacks like whole-wheat pretzels or tortilla chips, a handful of unsalted nuts, apple or celery slices with peanut butter, or whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cheese.
Move more. Exercise. The idea is to get your blood flowing. Adults need about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week - that's 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. You can do it in just 10 minutes at a time. Little things can make a big difference in your energy level.
One way to get your energy back is to find out what's causing it. Here are a few common causes.
Lack of exercise. It's simple: move more and you get more energy. Sit more and the reverse happens. If you exercise too little too often, you are more likely to have long-term health problems.
Not enough sleep. Men under 65 need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As you get older, you can get by on less sleep.
Depression and stress. Being upset, sad, or worried can drain your mind and body.
Is it more serious?
Talk to your doctor if your fatigue isn't due to any of the culprits above, or if it lasts more than 2 weeks. Your doctor will then need to do a deeper analysis to find the cause.
This could be one of the reasons:
Anemia: This condition occurs when your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Fatigue is the most common symptom. You may also be short of breath, feel dizzy, and have cold hands or feet. Some men get chest pain and headaches. Blood tests can show if you have this condition.
Low Testosterone Levels: This is the hormone that makes you manly. It helps produce sperm and body hair. It also stimulates your sexual desire. Your body normally starts producing less of this hormone around age 40. Some people call this "menopause". Too little testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction and loss of interest in sex. You may also experience mood swings.
Low thyroid hormones: Also called hypothyroidism, this occurs when your thyroid isn't working properly. It can cause you to gain weight, become constipated, slow your heart rate and dry out your skin. Blood tests can also be checked for this health problem.
Medication side effects: Medications that treat allergies, depression, high blood pressure, cancer, and other health conditions can sap your energy and make you feel more tired than usual. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of all your medications.
Chronic Fatigue: If you are always tired for 6 months or more, this could be the reason. It usually affects women, but men can get it too. Other symptoms include muscle aches, memory problems, headaches, and painful lymph nodes.
Serious illness: These conditions and others, or their treatments, can be associated with fatigue: cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen
Founder of Metis Supplements