When you’re always tired, everything in life takes more effort, which can eventually keep you from doing the things you love. Often, it can be difficult to pin down the exact cause of your tiredness, because so many factors can affect your energy. To help, here is a list of 10 common causes of fatigue, with practical solutions to re-energise you.
In order to rest and recharge, your body needs seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you are struggling to get to sleep, or stay asleep, audit your bedtime routine. Are you engaging in stimulating activities before bed, such as heavy exercise, or working on your laptop? Do you consume caffeine (e.g. tea, coffee, cola or chocolate) too close to bedtime? If, despite having healthy habits, you are still not sleeping well, there are effective, natural options to help. Click here for more information.
Fatigue is a common symptom of dehydration, which can be caused by simply not drinking enough water (less than two litres per day), fluid loss (from exercise or hot weather) or a combination of the two. One way to tell if you are dehydrated is by the colour of your urine; if it is darker than a just-ripe banana, you are probably dehydrated. Drink two or three glasses of water immediately, and make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day.
Chronic stress, due to unstable finances, relationships, work or health issues, can also take its toll on your energy levels. By triggering the hormone adrenaline, stress can leave you feeling overstimulated, and eventually wipe you out (click here to read more about this). Improving your stress management through meditation, exercise or speaking to a counsellor, may increase your energy. Magnesium, which is vital for energy production, is also depleted by stress, so making sure you get enough of this important mineral can help improve your energy levels.
When fighting an infection, your body forces you to prioritise rest by making you feel tired. However, fatigue can persist for weeks or months following certain infections, hampering your return to full health. If you haven’t bounced back from a recent illness, immune-boosting herbal medicines including astragalus and medical mushrooms (such as reishi, shiitake and coriolus), alongside nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C can make a massive difference to your energy, putting pesky post-viral fatigue to rest!
Exposure to mould from water-damaged or damp buildings can trigger your immune system and cause fatigue in a similar way to viruses. If you have noticed water damage in your home, a Naturopath can help you get on top of mould-related illness by supporting your immune system.
Low magnesium, iodine and B vitamins
A lack of energy-boosting nutrients in your diet can cause fatigue, particularly when it comes to nutrients such as magnesium, iodine and B vitamins, which help to create energy in the body.
Getting these nutrients in your diet can be tricky, but consuming a variety of whole foods including fish, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and dark green, leafy vegetables can help to boost your intake. In the meantime, addressing nutrient deficiency with a supplement may improve your energy. It is important to keep in mind that the quality and effectiveness of supplements can vary, so seek the advice of a health Practitioner who can help choose the right combination for you.
Low iron levels
If you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, have a history of poor absorption (for example, due to a digestive condition), or experience heavy periods, you may have an iron deficiency, which has been associated with fatigue.1 If this sounds like you, a visit to your GP for a blood test is highly recommended to assess your iron status.
Low blood sugar
Eating balanced meals can help to stabilise blood sugar levels by providing a steady flow of nutritional resources that the body can convert into energy. This means starting the day with a balanced breakfast, followed by protein-rich wholefood snacks (such as boiled eggs and nuts) as the day goes on. Another tip for balancing blood sugar is to try adding unprocessed cinnamon powder to meals and smoothies, which can also help you maintain balance when it comes to blood sugar.
If none of the above apply to you, but you still feel fatigued, you may have issues with your energy-making machinery – your mitochondria. These energy-producing cell components can be damaged as a result of other health concerns, such as uncontrolled blood sugar, chronic infections, and exposure to environmental toxins, which can reduce your ability to produce energy. If you have tried everything else but are still feeling flat, it may be time to see a Naturopath to address complex drivers of fatigue which may be compromising your mitochondrial health.
Mental health issues associated with fatigue
The topic of mental health is important to understand, as individuals experiencing depression may not immediately recognise symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, constant frustration, and profound feelings of indifference as part of a mental health diagnosis. If these symptoms sound familiar to you or a family member, seeking support and reaching out to qualified healthcare Practitioners is the first step in addressing mental health issues. Eventually, managing mental wellbeing can help resolve symptoms such as fatigue, and support overall health and wellbeing.
Say goodbye to fatigue and hello to finding your flow
There are many reasons for fatigue, some more complex than others. Finding the underlying cause of your tiredness can help orchestrate your body back into rhythm, giving you back your groove! With all of that in mind, if you are experiencing ongoing fatigue, consider a consultation with a Natural Health Practitioner who can help you get to the root of your poor energy levels.
If symptoms persist, please see your health professional.
1 Pasricha SR, Flecknoe‐Brown SC, Allen KJ, Gibson PR, McMahon LP, Olynyk Jk et al. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Med J Aust. 2010 Nov;193(9):525-32.