“Doc, why am I so tired all the time,” my patient asks me. “I just can’t get going even after a pot of coffee.” Running errands were too much for her let alone doing things she enjoyed. Her fuel tank was empty, and she had nothing more to give. She’s not the first person to ask me this question. Not even the first person today. Many of my patients list fatigue as a common symptom when they come for their first visit.
A 2018 survey from Accountemps found that 74% of Americans go to work tired. That’s a lot of tired people. Women are even more tired than men. According to the CDC, women ages 18-44 were twice as likely than men to report being very tired or exhausted in the past 3 months. Being tired or exhausted can not only be detrimental to your work but also to your health and quality of life. So, why are people so tired?
Why am I so Tired?
There are many reasons so many people are so tired, but you weren’t made to be tired. Your body was designed to create energy and you will have energy unless your body is dealing with other factors. You won’t find it in a coffee pot or in an energy drink. While those will stimulate your nervous system into thinking you have energy, they aren’t a replacement for energy. You should not have to rely on stimulants to get going during the day, or to even just make it through the day. If you need those it could be a sign of something bigger going on.
If you’re tired all the time, there is something that is off. You need to identify what is draining your energy. If your body is fighting something or working on healing something, then you will have less energy. Your fuel tank is going to be empty unless you make changes to fill it up.
8 Factors that Can Increase Fatigue
These are the most common factors that can make you tired and drain your energy. The first step is to identify what is making you tired and getting in the way of your energy production.
1 – Lack of Sleep
This is the obvious one, but it plagues so many! According to the American Sleep Association, more than 1/3 of Americans report getting less than 7 hours of sleep regularly. The average person needs 8 hours of sleep! Women need even more sleep than men and need 8-10 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, many people are trying to squeak by on less than sufficient sleep. Sleep is when your body heals and if you aren’t getting enough sleep then your body doesn’t get the time it needs to heal. You can’t feel energized if lack of sleep is draining you. Make time for sleep and follow these tips for better sleep!
2 – Stress
This is one of the biggest factors I see ruining women’s sleep and their health. Nothing depletes a woman’s energy levels like mental stress. Stress can lead to high cortisol which keeps you from getting the sleep you need. For women this is detrimental for hormonal balance as their hormones are replenished during their sleep. Your stress can increase your fatigue and tank your energy levels.
3 – Electrolyte Imbalance
Your body needs a proper balance of electrolytes to stay hydrated and to allow for many biological processes in the body. Electrolytes help with electrical processes in the body such as nerve function, muscle contractions and fluid balance. Your body needs electrolytes like salt, potassium, chloride, and magnesium. Make sure you are eating plenty of green leafy vegetables and using good salt.
4 – Infections and Illness
If your body is fighting a virus or infection, your body will tell you to get some rest to fight it. It’s a normal immune response. If your immune response is insufficient then a virus can keep causing problems including fatigue.
5 – Chronic Inflammation
Allergies, poor diet, hormone imbalance, mold, toxins, and other factors can contribute to chronic inflammation. Your body has to deal with this inflammation. Long term inflammation leaves your energy tank drained. A test that can tell you how much inflammation your body has is the C-reactive protein test. Once you find out if inflammation is causing your fatigue you can look for what is causing your inflammation.
6 – Medications
Your medication can make you feel so tired. Check the side effects on the prescriptions you are taking. Remember the body is like a Swiss watch and you can’t change one part of the body without affecting the whole thing. Common medications that make you tired are antihistamines, blood pressure medication, diuretics, statin drugs and anti-depressants.
7 – Thyroid
There are many factors that can affect this gland and cause you to get less sleep. Your thyroid secretes hormones that can keep you from getting the sleep you need and is one of many gears of the body that can throw others off. The only way to know how your thyroid is functioning is to get fully tested.
9 – Anemia
Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin to transport oxygen in the blood. If you aren’t getting enough oxygen to your tissues and muscles, then you’re going to feel sleepy. If you think you might be low in iron, you should get tested. You might be low on iron because you don’t eat enough meat or because your body isn’t absorbing enough iron because of problems in your gut. Make sure your gut is healthy and follow these tips for boosting iron.
You Don’t Have to Be So Tired
If you are always asking yourself, “why am I so tired?” then you need to find out why. It’s not only a drain on the quality of your life but could be a sign of a bigger health concern. You need to identify what factors are causing your fatigue so you can mitigate those factors. If you have been getting plenty of sleep and following the tips for better sleep then you need to keep digging. Find a proficient provider that will help get to the bottom of your fatigue. If your feeling drained then talk to your doctor. We can help! You were meant to have energy!
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn