Lack of energy is one of the most common complaints that people seek medical care for. It’s frustrating when you have so much to do, and constant fatigue is holding you back. Fatigue is something that everyone has had to deal with at some point in their lives. It could be due to a lack of sleep, an illness, or just from overworking. But no matter what the cause of your fatigue is, there are ways that you can fight back.
If you feel tired most of the time, the first step is to see your healthcare provider for a physical exam and lab work. Many healthcare problems, including iron deficiency anemia, an underactive thyroid, diabetes, and even depression can cause chronic fatigue.
Once you have a clean bill of health, inspect your lifestyle and see if you’re getting the basics, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and physical activity. The lack of any of these can reduce your energy level and give you that “I just want to lie down and take a nap” feeling. Want to know what other bad habits we have that could be contributing to your fatigue? Here are five energy zappers that can suck your energy and leave you feeling exhausted before the day is halfway over.
A High-Sugar Diet
Eating a sugary or ultra-processed carbohydrate snack might give you a short-term energy boost, but, ultimately, these foods can worsen fatigue and increase hunger. When you eat something high in sugar or a carbohydrate that your body absorbs rapidly, it causes a blood sugar spike that might give you a temporary energy boost, however short-lived.
Unfortunately, after the initial energy surge from the rising blood sugar, you get a rapid drop in sugar. It’s the drop and sugar that leads to fatigue and other symptoms such as shakiness, brain fog, and, sometimes, sadness and lack of motivation. Inconvenient, right?
What’s the solution? Give up the junk food and sugary soft drinks and replace them with whole foods high in fiber and protein. These foods won’t cause a blood sugar spike that you’ll pay for later with fatigue. Plus, they’re better for your metabolic health and waistline. Ultra-processed foods and sugar lack the nutrients your body needs to optimize energy production.
More people than ever or taking one or more prescription medications and they can cause side effects. In fact, a number of medications are known to cause fatigue. These include antihistamines used to treat allergies, medications for mood disorders, muscle relaxants, some blood pressure medications, and pain medications. If you’ve just started a new prescription medication and are suddenly feeling tired, that could be the problem. Check with your health care provider and see whether your medications commonly cause fatigue.
You’re Chronically Dehydrated
Research shows that many people walk around in a state of low-grade dehydration. In other words, you’re not drinking enough water. Even mild dehydration causes fatigue, brain fog, lack of motivation, and headache. Many people aren’t aware that their body is craving water. If you take diuretics used to treat High blood pressure and heart conditions, you’re more likely to experience dehydration. Also, if you work out, you lose water during exercise through sweat. If you don’t replace it, you’ll feel zapped of energy. One clue that you’re dehydrated is the color of your urine. If it’s darker than light yellow, it’s time to drink some fluids!
Caffeine should make you feel energized, right? But if drinking several cups of coffee each day becomes a habit, your body and brain adapt to the effects of caffeine and it loses its energizing benefits. If you cut back on caffeine suddenly, it can trigger fatigue, lack of motivation, and headaches that last up to a week, classic signs of caffeine withdrawal. If you reduce your caffeine consumption, do it gradually by no more than one serving of caffeine per week. This approach will help you avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
You’re Glued to Your Devices
Do you always have a smartphone in your hand? Not only is keeping up with social media exhausting, but the blue light that these devices use can also affect your sleep at night. Blue light in the evening disrupts the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. If you’re scrolling through your phone before bedtime, the drop in melatonin could make it harder to drift off to sleep. To avoid this, put down your devices two hours before bedtime. Also, most people use their devices while sitting and too much sitting can make you feel tired.
Keep Moving Too!
Now you know some of the more common causes of exhaustion that many people aren’t aware of. But don’t forget that fatigue can be a sign of health problems too. So, get it checked out. Make sure you’re staying physically active and not sitting for more than a few hours during the day. Lack of exercise itself can cause fatigue. Your body was made to move, so don’t let it stay in one place too long. You’ll have more energy and less fatigue if you keep your limbs moving and the blood flowing.
The Bottom Line
We all experience fatigue at some point in our lives. It’s a natural human response to either inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, stress, and/or a lack of exercise, but it’s also commonly due to lifestyle habits. Take a closer look at how you’re eating and drinking, the medications you’re taking, how much caffeine you consume, and how much time you’re spending looking at a screen. A few changes may be all you need to get back on track!
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