How to Beat Fatigue

Published:  12/26/2017

Fatigue is the number one complaint I hear from my clients. 

Fatigue may result from overwork, poor sleep, worry, boredom, or lack of exercise. It is a symptom that may be caused by illness, medicine, or medical treatment. Anxiety or depression can also cause fatigue. If you have experienced fatigue for over two weeks, a visit to your physician for a physical exam is the first step.

If the exam didn't reveal any medical or emotional causes here are some things you can do to get your energy back.

Strategies to Help Beat Fatigue and Boost Energy Levels

Koala Sleeping on tree branch

Fatigue can result from various factors, including physical exertion, lack of sleep, stress, poor nutrition, or underlying health conditions. While it's essential to address the root causes of fatigue, here are some strategies to help beat fatigue and boost energy levels:

Stay hydrated: Dehydration can contribute to fatigue. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to maintain hydration levels. Limit or avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake as they can dehydrate the body.

Eat a balanced diet: Provide your body with nourishing foods to support energy levels. Consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates that can cause energy crashes.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can drain your energy. Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in activities you enjoy. Prioritize self-care and take regular breaks to relax and rejuvenate.

Exercise regularly: Physical activity can help combat fatigue by increasing blood flow, releasing endorphins, and improving overall energy levels. Engage in regular aerobic exercise, strength training, or other activities that you enjoy. Start with moderate intensity and gradually increase as your fitness level improves.

Take breaks and rest: If you're feeling fatigued, allow yourself to take short breaks throughout the day. Stepping away from your tasks, practicing relaxation techniques, or engaging in a brief power nap can help recharge your energy levels.

Practice good posture: Poor posture can lead to muscle tension and fatigue. Maintain proper posture while sitting, standing, and moving to alleviate strain on your body and help maintain energy levels.

Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the day: This is particularly important for older people who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep-wake cycle. So let in the light first thing in the morning and get outside for a sun break during the day.

Limit stimulants and optimize nutrition: While caffeine can provide a temporary energy boost, rely on it in moderation. Instead, focus on obtaining energy from nutritious foods, such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, and foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Consider medical evaluation: If fatigue persists despite lifestyle modifications, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can help identify underlying medical conditions, such as anemia, thyroid issues, or chronic fatigue syndrome, that may contribute to fatigue.

Remember, everyone's energy levels and fatigue triggers are different. It's essential to listen to your body, make lifestyle adjustments, and find a balance that works best for you.

How To Get Better Sleep

Lack of sleep is most likely the main culprit behind low energy.  Adults need 7-9 hours per night, seniors 7-8 hours, and teens 14 to 17 years old 8-10 hours. PMID: 30568521

While it's common to sometimes have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, this can also be a sign of insomnia or another health condition. Call your doctor if your symptoms last longer than 4 weeks or interfere with your ability to function. 

Here are some strategies that can help promote good sleep.

Prioritize sleep: Ensure you are getting sufficient and quality sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and establish a consistent sleep schedule. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, avoid electronic devices before bed, and create a comfortable sleep environment. 

Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Having a regular sleep schedule helps to ensure better quality and consistent sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets the body's internal clock to expect sleep at a certain time night after night. Try to stick as closely as possible to your routine on weekends.

Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Physically and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness. If you tend to take your problems to bed, try writing them down and then putting them aside.

Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, or practice relaxation exercises. Avoid stressful, stimulating activities doing work, discussing emotional issues.

Food can be disruptive right before sleep. Stay away from large meals close to bedtime. 

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolize the alcohol, causing arousal.

A quiet and dark, and environment can help promote sound slumber. Use heavy curtains, blackout shades, or an eye mask to block light, a powerful cue that tells the brain that it's time to wake up.

Keep the temperature comfortably cool between 60 and 75°F and the room well ventilated.

Lower the volume of outside noise with earplugs or a white noise appliance.

Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.

It may help to limit your bedroom activities to sleep and sex only. Keeping computers, TVs, and work materials out of the room will strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.

Go to sleep when you're truly tired: Struggling to fall sleep just leads to frustration. If you're not asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do something relaxing, like reading or listening to music until you are tired enough to sleep.

Don't be a nighttime clock-watcher: Staring at a clock in your bedroom, either when you are trying to fall asleep or when you wake in the middle of the night, can actually increase stress, making it harder to fall asleep. Turn your clock's face away from you.
And if you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep in about 20 minutes, get up and engage in a quiet, restful activity such as reading or listening to music. And keep the lights dim; bright light can stimulate your internal clock.

Call your doctor if your symptoms last longer than 4 weeks or interfere with your ability to function. 

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