You’re tired despite having had 8 hours of sleep. You’ve had 3 coffees before it’s even lunchtime. Sound familiar?
When you’re feeling tired all the time it’s easy to dismiss it as simply a stage in your life. You may have young children; a stressful job; you’ve never been a morning person. Feeling tired is completely normal but feeling constantly fatigued is not.
And yet it often gets dismissed. Fatigue is a debilitating condition that can’t just be fixed by “getting a good night sleep”
Difference between fatigue and tiredness.
Tiredness is perfectly normal and is relieved by rest. Fatigue is more intense than that. It doesn’t matter how much you rest or how little you do, you never seem to have much energy.
Now that we know what it is, we need to work out what is causing it. Below are listed some of the potential factors.
- Poor thyroid function: Your body needs thyroid hormone to produce energy and if it is struggling then you will have sub-optimal energy. It is estimated that at least 1 in 20 of us have a poorly functioning thyroid.
- Hormone imbalances. Low testosterone can impact how many red blood cells you can make and thus how much oxygen you can transport around your body. For women, low estrogen can cause fatigue and high progesterone can make you tired.
- Blood sugar imbalance. The blood sugar rollercoaster is familiar to most people. You have a high carb or sugary snack and get a burst of energy, only to crash about 2 hours later so reach for another snack. This gets repeated throughout your day so you are wired or tired. Constant fatigue can also be a feature for diabetics and pre diabetics due to insufficient insulin levels or a lack of insulin senstivity.
- Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Energy production in our bodies isnt just a simple case of calories in and calories out. The chemical reactions require upto 20 different vitamins and minerals to function effectively so we need to make sure we are getting these in our diets and that just as importantly we are absorbing them.
- Autoimmune disease. Fatigue is one of the key symtoms of diagnosed and undiagnosed autoimmune conditions. The chronic inflammation in your system uses large amounts of energy to heal as well as sends signals to your brain to slow down.
- Digestive issues. Heartburn/reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea can all be signs that your digestive system needs stuport. If you are unable to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals you need then your energy levels are going to be impacted.
- Food intolerances. These can easily disrupt our digestive system, causing poor absorption of minerals and vitamins as well as causing chronic low grade inflammation.
- Insomnia and disrupted sleep. You struggle to get to sleep, or you are waking up several times in the night, or you wake up before your alarm clock and cant get back to sleep. Anything that consistently prevents you from getting 7-8 hours of sleep will impact your energy
- Post viral/ post covid fatigue. Your fatigue maybe started after a bout of flu, Covid or Epstein Bar Virus and can be caused by an increase in inflammation levels.
- Stress. Long term chronic stress can result in damage to the mitochondria (the energy-producing parts of our cells). It also lowers testosterone, dysregulates blood sugar balance, and impacts on the body’s ability to calm inflammation
So what can we do to feel energized again?
With such a list of potential mediators it is no surprise that, in the time-pressured national health service, it can be so difficult to get to your personal root cause. Clearly, there is no “one size fits all” diagnosis that your GP can make. It is for this reason that my intake health questionnaire is so detailed and that our first consultation of 90 minutes allows for a deep dive into your personal journey, experiences and nutritional status.
Having narrowed down the field of focus we can then look at targetted testing where appropriate. Liaising with your GP, there are some tests that we can do through the NHS as well. Based on these results we will be able to design a personalised health plan to restore your energy and get you back to living life to the full once more.
Fatigue does not have to be a part of your everyday life.