Why am I so Tired? 11 Causes of Fatigue and How to Treat it!

November 14, 2015
Why am I so tired-image

Do you often get those days when no matter how much you sleep, you still wake up asking yourself why am I so tired and not wanting to get out of bed? If that’s happening more than usual to you now, maybe it’s time you start thinking out of the box for once.

Getting a good night sleep is essential and an estimated 50-70 million Americans struggle with it 1)http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/. But if you’re getting enough hours of “quality sleep” – at least 7-8 hours a day and still waking up tired, maybe it’s your body’s way of telling you that something wrong is going on.

Many conditions and deficiencies don’t start off big. In most of these conditions, your body tries to warn you with subtle signs like body fatigue, changes in body weight, changes in bowel habits, disruption of the sleep cycle and so on.

So it’s important that you don’t neglect these changes. If you’re chronically tired, it’s time you paid attention to this “symptom”, as it might be the harbinger of something more serious going on in your body.

So, here is the list of top 11 reasons why you’re tried all the times and how to treat it.

Reason # 1- Thyroid Problems

Thyroid Problems
Thyroid hormones are the most important regulators of body metabolism. An adequate level of thyroid hormones is necessary for body vitality and energy. Thyroid hormone deficiency 2)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022776/ is one of the most common, yet undermined and undiagnosed cause of chronic body fatigue.

Most important contributors to decreased thyroid levels include:

  • Dietary deficiencies, especially eating a diet low in iodine, zinc and selenium 3)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594417.
  • Exposure to toxins that decrease thyroid hormone production, like xenoestrogens coming from plastic bottles 4)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689811/
  • Exposure to radiation 5)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23565416.
  • Sensitivity to gluten or other autoimmune causes 6)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/.
  • Chronically elevated cortisol levels due to stress can cause thyroid disorders 7)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650357.

How to Treat it?

Here is how to deal with thyroid hormone deficiency related fatigue.

  • Get your thyroid levels checked. Low thyroid hormone levels mean you may have hypothyroidism.
  • If you’re allergic to gluten or other dairy products, it’s quite likely that these things might be triggering hypothyroidism besides giving you a gut disease. So go gluten free.
  • Avoid drinking water in a plastic bottle. Especially, don’t heat water in plastic bottles. It speeds up the release of plastic toxins into the water.
  • Eating a diet rich in iodine, vitamin C, zinc and selenium is scientifically proven to boost thyroid hormone levels 8)http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6823/8/2.
  • Try to decrease the amount of stress in your life. Adopting a healthy, active, and stress-free lifestyle will help improve thyroid levels. Try doing yoga and breathing exercises.

Reason # 2- Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal glands are important body glands that are responsible for producing a bunch of hormones needed for running a number of reactions in your body. One such hormone is cortisol. When it comes to cortisol, it is a double-edged sword. A normal level of cortisol is essential of energy metabolism and proper functioning of body 9)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7900796. But chronically elevated cortisol leads to problems like anxiety and something researchers call “adrenal fatigue” 10)http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/what-is-adrenal-fatigue.

Think of adrenal fatigue as your body exhausting all of its cortisol reserves in a very small out of time. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. So when you’re chronically stressed, your body releases a lot of cortisol and you end up with no cortisol in the end. Other causes of adrenal fatigue include emotional trauma, lack of sleep, poor diet and exposure to toxins.
When your cortisol levels fall, you start experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue like increased tiredness, chronic fatigue, headaches, weight gain, muscle and other body aches, mental fogginess, trouble doing even daily activities and so on.

How to Treat it?

  • Caffeine works by increasing your body cortisol levels 11)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/. If the morning cup of coffee is not cutting it anymore, maybe you’ve taken it too far and need to cut down your daily intake of caffeine. Try healthy alternatives like green teas.
  • Sugar and weight gain is also linked with increased cortisol levels 12)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11971667. Try decreasing your sugar intake. Also, cutting down your weight a bit will help improve your adrenal status.
  • Decrease your intake of alcohol.
  • Eat a diet rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B5, zinc and selenium.
  • The best way to decrease cortisol levels is by practicing mindfulness through yoga and meditation 13)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049209.

Reason # 3: Depression

Depression has profound effects on the way you live and think. One of the greatest tolls fatigue takes on your body manifests itself in the form of increasing body fatigue 14)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225130/.

Depression is when you don’t feel like doing anything, feel down all the times, experience social withdrawal, suffer from frequent mood swings and experience physical symptoms like fatigue, decrease in energy, cravings for sweets or certain types of foods and so on 15)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0016605/.

How to Treat it?

  • Reduce your intake of sugar, caffeine, processed foods and alcohol.
  • Eat a diet rich in antioxidants, especially omega-3 fatty acids 16)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512361/.
  • Aromatherapy using differential essential oils is also an effective way of dealing with depression 17)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23531112
  • Try exercising more 18)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24026850
  • Mindfulness and yoga is the gold standard remedy for depression 19)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23922209.

Reason # 4 – Sedentary Lifestyle

Sedentary Lifestyle
Have you came back home after a busy day at the office and thinking that skipping gym for this once and getting extra hours resting will help you freshen up a bit? Well, that’s not going to work. Despite common belief that working out makes you more tired, the exact opposite is true.
Results of a research 20)http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/low-intensity-exercise-reduces-fatigue-symptoms-by-65-percent-study-finds/ showed that only after six weeks of low-intensity exercise for 20 minutes every day, the exercise reported greater overall energy than those who didn’t exercise.

Also, exercise helps you sleep better. It increases both quality and quantity. Research 21)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15892929 shows that exercise is an excellent, in fact healthy, alternative treatment for insomnia.

How to Treat it?

  • If you have a desk job, try to get up from your desk and move around during your lunch break.
  • Try taking stairs in place of elevators wherever you go.
  • Try getting up early in the morning and do quick workout before going to work.
  • Try to walk more. Try walking across the block instead of driving when you’ve to buy groceries.
  • Take your dog on a walk.
  • Spend more time with your kids and family. Play with them – not video games.
  • Go for a walk or go to the gym in the evening.
  • Try walking at least 500-1000 steps after every meal.

Reason # 5- Anemia

Your red blood cells contain a protein called “hemoglobin” that is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. Anemia results when the level of hemoglobin falls below normal.
According to the World Health Organization, anemia affects a staggering 1.62 billion people worldwide 22)http://www.who.int/vmnis/anaemia/prevalence/summary/anaemia_data_status_t2/en/. Most of the anemia cases go undiagnosed.

Anemia presents as increased fatigability, increased breathlessness, failure in growth, mental fogginess, and so on.

Most important causes of anemia include 23)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0021987/:

  • Poor diet
  • Strictly vegan diet. This makes you more susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency and megaloblastic anemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Growth years
  • Worm infestation
  • Bleeding from any part of the body
  • Stomach disorders
  • Using medicines like proton pump inhibitors (Omeprazole)
  • H.pylori infection
  • Excessive alcohol intake

How to Treat it?

  • Get your hemoglobin levels checked. Low hemoglobin levels show that you’ve anemia.
  • Get yourself checked for H.pylori infection, active bleeding or any other body disorder that might be causing anemia. In that case, get proper treatment.
  • In case of medicines, talk to your doctor and replace anemia causing medicines with other medicines.
  • Eat a diet rich in iron and vitamin B12. This includes red meet, organs, green leafy vegetables and liver.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Eat citrus fruits and other sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps in better absorption of iron 24)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2507689.
  • You can also try eating a good multivitamin or iron supplement.

Reason # 6- Dehydration

Our bodies are roughly 60-70% water. Water helps carry out countless bodily and mental functions 25)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/.

There are many reasons to why dehydration aids to increased fatigue. Almost all of the body ions, like sodium, calcium, and potassium, are found in their ionic form. They move across different body compartments in the presence of water. Dehydration impairs this process and results in increased fatigue, body cramps, and pain.

Water helps in proper mental functioning as well. Dehydration causes impaired mental thinking, mental fogginess, and mental fatigue.

How to Treat it?

  • Drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water daily.
  • Keep a bottle of water with yourself, wherever you go.
  • Make a habit of drinking a glass of water before your trip to the washroom.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables rich in water.
  • Drink coconut water. It is rich in electrolytes that will help replenish lost minerals and water too.
  • Make use of helping apps that can help you keep track of the water you drink.

Reason # 7- Leaky Gut

gluten sensitivity
Your gut is the main entry point in your body for toxins and harmful agents like bacteria. But your gut acts like a natural barrier and prevents the entry of these harmful agents into your body. When the barrier function of your gut is lost, this is when the toxins and harmful agents gain entry into your body and you end up with a bunch of diseases. This is known as leaky gut syndrome 26)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896.

The most important symptoms of leaky gut include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Feeling tired all the times
  • Allergies
  • Muscle aches
  • Change in body weight
  • Mood swings

How to Treat it?

  • Leaky gut is usually the result of gluten sensitivity. So eat a diet free of gluten.
  • Eat probiotic-rich food 27)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3864899/. These include yogurt, foods and vegetables.
  • Eat a rich in antioxidants, zinc, and B vitamins.
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Reason # 8- Poor Glucose Control

You might not have diabetes yet, but you might be in the early stages of the disease. Something researchers call “pre-diabetes”.

Your body needs an optimal supply of glucose to function properly. Having too much or too less glucose is dangerous. When you get into pre-diabetic stage, your body fails to use blood sugar properly. So, no matter how much sugar you consume, you’re going to end up being tired and fatigued all the times.

How to Treat it?

Although your body might have developed resistance to insulin and is unable to use glucose, it doesn’t mean eating sugar will correct it. In fact, eating more sugar will do more harm than good. Decrease your intake of sugar. Try to increase the intake of proteins and decrease intake of saturated fats. Also, cut short the consumption of alcohol 28)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16570763.

  • Exercise regularly. This will help improve glucose metabolism 29)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22040838.
  • Avoid gluten in your diet.
  • Losing weight will help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism 30)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15626569.
  • Reason # 9- Poor Diet

    Poor Diet
    A proper diet is the basic source of all our nutrients. The “modernization” of diet has led to countless nutrient deficiencies. When the diet is low in its nutritious value, the body responds as symptoms like increasing fatigue 31)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10918987.

    How to Treat it?

    • Avoid high sugar foods.
    • Avoid inflammation causing foods.
    • Avoid alcohol.
    • Avoid processed foods.
    • Avoid gluten in your diet.
    • Avoid eating fried and junk foods.
    • Avoid excessive use of caffeine.
    • Eat a diet rich in anti-oxidants.
    • Eat a diet rich in minerals and vitamins.
    • Make maximum use of probiotics.
    • Eat a high protein, low carb, and low-fat diet.
    • Try using more unsaturated fats in your diet.

    Reason # 10- Emotional Stress

    Emotional Stress
    Emotional stress is a common yet treatable cause of increased tiredness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America (ADSA), an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety yet only one-third of them receive treatment 32)http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

    How to treat it?

    • Get more sleep.
    • Avoid stimulants.
    • Spend more time with your friends and family.
    • Make use of probiotics.
    • Eat a rich in tryptophan, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
    • Exercise regularly.
    • Exercise mindfulness and yoga.

    Reason # 11- Poor Quality/Quantity of Sleep

    Poor Quality-Quantity of Sleep
    According to the National Sleep Foundation, an average adult needs 7-8 hours of “good quality sleep” every day. When it comes to sleep, both quality and quantity matters. A quality sleep means uninterrupted sleep after which you wake up fresh in the morning and don’t doze during your working hours.

    Sleep deprivation is one of the commonest causes of increased body fatigue and tiredness. Sleep is essential for energy preservation. Researchers think of sleep as a “reset button” that resets your body processes and helps you wake up a brand new person in the morning 33)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1946731.

    According to certain estimates, insomnia affects as much as 30% of the adult population at a given time 34)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978319/. Insomnia can result in poor mental and physical performance, poor concentration, increased fatigue, decreased mental clearance and so on.

    How to Treat it?

    • Make a strict go to sleep and get up time.
    • Use your bed for sleeping only. Don’t use it for work on anything else.
    • Try eating tryptophan-rich food (like banana) before going to sleep. Tryptophan increases the concentration of sleep-promoting chemicals like serotonin and dopamine 35)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6764927.
    • Try a soothing hot bath before going to sleep.
    • Read a book before going to bed.
    • Keep your room light to minimal. If needed, turn your room absolutely dark using curtains or use blind-folds.
    • Try avoiding the use of laptops, mobiles or other electronics before going to sleep. Research shows that these devices emit blue radiations that tempers with your sleep 36)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21552190.
    • Keep your room temperature to optimum.
    • Try sleep in a room away from sound and interference.
    • Avoid drinking water or any other fluid at least half hour before going to sleep.
    • Avoid heavy meals at night. Avoid eating anything at least two or three hours before going to sleep.
    • Aromatherapy has also shown promise in improving the quality of sleep 37)http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584799.
    • Exercising at night helps improve both quality and quantity of sleep.
    • Choose pillows and mattresses that best support your body and are comfortable.
    • Listen to calming music before going to sleep.

    These are 11 common reasons that would be causing fatigue. Start experimenting with them and see if any work for you to stop you asking that horrible question – why am I so tired?

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    References   [ + ]

    1. http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
    2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0022776/
    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594417
    4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689811/
    5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23565416
    6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/
    7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15650357
    8. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6823/8/2
    9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7900796
    10. http://www.adrenalfatigue.org/what-is-adrenal-fatigue
    11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2257922/
    12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11971667
    13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24049209
    14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225130/
    15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0016605/
    16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512361/
    17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23531112
    18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24026850
    19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23922209
    20. http://news.uga.edu/releases/article/low-intensity-exercise-reduces-fatigue-symptoms-by-65-percent-study-finds/
    21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15892929
    22. http://www.who.int/vmnis/anaemia/prevalence/summary/anaemia_data_status_t2/en/
    23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0021987/
    24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2507689
    25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
    26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896
    27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3864899/
    28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16570763
    29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22040838
    30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15626569
    31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10918987
    32. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
    33. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1946731
    34. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978319/
    35. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6764927
    36. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21552190
    37. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25584799