14 Mar Beating Fatigue
An overwhelming feeling of tiredness isn’t always the repercussion of a late night. Some of us experience this feeling of fatigue regularly, even though we’ve had had our recommended 8 hours. Most Monday mornings I feel extremely tired, and after hitting snooze at least 15 times I drag myself out of bed and set about my morning all the while dreaming about the moment I can go back to bed. I had 10 hours sleep last night, there should be no reason why I feel so tired…. right?
This got me thinking- Am I lacking some essential mineral or nutrient? What causes these sporadic occurrences of overwhelming tiredness?
After speaking with the experts it turns out there are many reasons why someone can feel fatigue, and they might not be what you’d think. You could be still playing sleep catch up from a late night several days ago, low iron levels, dehydration, poor sleep quality, an underlying medical condition, medication and over training ( yes too much exercise!!!) are all common causes of fatigue. I actually found the whole subject really interesting, and after discussing it with friends it seems unexplained fatigue is really common, especially in the workplace.
I eat fairly healthy and exercise regularly, I don’t take any medications and I don’t drink a lot of caffeine, so the first thing I looked at was my sleep quality. The fact that most Friday and Saturday nights I stay up later than usual and may or may not, drink a few wines each night of the weekend is almost certainly the culprit for my Monday bouts of fatigue ( even though I slept a solid 10 hours on Sunday night!). Another reason for my sleep quality being effected could be my late night social media activity. Using your cell phone, or laptop before you go to bed ramps up your brain activity and can make it harder to get to sleep. The blue light in the screens of mobile devices can also inhibit the sleep hormone melatonin. It’s also a good idea to put your devices on silent or flight mode before you go to bed, as email and message alerts can disturb you while you sleep.
Stress also stood out as a big offender for poor sleep quality. Stress sends the brain into overdrive, preventing you from falling asleep. Not only does stress make it harder to get to sleep, but it can also make your sleep quality poorer.
I spoke with expert Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Robbie Clark about what causes this type of fatigue, what to look out for, and what we can do to beat it.
Why I am I feeling like this?
You may have experienced having an amazing nights sleep for the first time in days, only to find that the next morning you’re still tired. The reason for that is you may be in a negative balance. Look at it this way, if you keep taking from your body and you don’t give enough back to it, you are going to be in the ‘red zone’ and one good nights of sleep won’t necessarily fix the problem. Odds are that you’ll need to have a few early nights, or take a long weekend to rest in order to create balance again.
Other reasons why you may not be sleeping include; having caffeine too close to bedtime, waking to go to the bathroom , not creating a suitable environment in your bedroom. For example, is there airflow? Is it dark? What are the noise levels like? Is your pet sleeping on your bed and keeping you awake? Try to cease liquid intake an hour before bed and empty your bladder fully just before. This can help reduce the need to go the bathroom throughout the night.
You may also be doing too many activities in your room, which can be keeping your mind active. For example, never take your laptop to bed as your bed isn’t the place for you to be working, and try not engage in social media on your phone before sleeping. Keep your bed as a sanctuary and only use it for sleep or sex.
Finally, fatigue can be a result of a poor diet or other illnesses that you may be suffering from. Food intolerance’s are a common culprit for fatigue. Food intolerance may also cause diarrhea, which in turn can prevent the nutrients that you are eating from being absorbed optimally which may lead to anemia.
Anemia is a result of iron deficiency, so it goes without saying that if you are anemic, odds are you will be struggling with fatigue. Vegans and vegetarians are also at great risk of iron deficiency. Other conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, hormone imbalance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnoea, depression and anxiety.
If you’re feeling tired for an extended period of time and you’re unsure why, I would recommend seeing a health care practitioner as you may be struggling with a deeper problem than you initially realized.
Are there foods that can help?
Food is fuel for your body, so the best way to ensure that you are energized and functioning optimally is to eat good wholefoods.
Try to steer clear of processed foods as they tend to be full of preservatives, sodium, refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, and other compounds that may slow you down. By sticking to seasonal fresh foods, you will have more chance of benefiting from the nutrients that are often stripped from processed foods.
I would also suggest that you avoid caffeine, which may sound ridiculous, but while that first sip of coffee will give you a jolt of energy, it will also soon send you crashing down. Avoiding caffeine can help stabilize your energy levels leaving you feeling much better all day long.
Lean meats and nuts are great for helping beat fatigue and fight hunger. Eat raw, unsalted nuts as they contain the most nutrients and therefore will provide the most energy. And make sure that you drink plenty of water! Water and staying well hydrated can help boost your metabolism.
Should I take supplements to help with fatigue?
There are a few, however I’d suggest that you consult your healthcare practitioner before putting yourself onto any supplement regimes. Some vitamin formulas are better than others and you also need to keep in mind that some vitamins may be counteracted by other medications that you may be taking.
If you decide to supplement, make sure you use high quality supplements. I would suggest looking into Vitamin D, Coenzyme Q10, Complex B Vitamins and Magnesium to beat fatigue.
Can certain types exercise help?
If you’re extremely tired, I would recommend to do light exercise such as yoga, walking or swimming as you don’t want to burn yourself out. Aerial yoga could be beneficial too as you spend time upside down and twisting which is a great detoxifier and a great way to shift your energy.
Meditation is also great for those who are experiencing stress-related tiredness and fatigued.
ABOUT ROBBIE CLARK
Robbie is a Sydney based Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist who has been in the industry for over 10 years. He is regularly featured as an expert in the media and he has recently co-founded the first online nutrition clinic in Australia TheHealthClinic.com.au along with Nutritionist Pip Reed.
Robbie has a ‘everything in moderation’ approach to diet and nutrition and feels that diets are usually over complicated and unrealistic for people to follow and/ or sustain. He believes in educating people to get back to the basics to gain a healthy metabolism, more energy, more muscle, less fat, improved hormone balance and a positive mindset when it comes to food.