Chronic fatigue syndrome, adrenal fatigue, fatigue, exhaustion, poor energy: regardless of the label given, fatigue is growing at a fast rate and the reasons why are not easy to understand.
If we had a late night, we’ve been over working (either physically or mentally), overly anxious or stressed, it’s understandable that we may feel fatigued: but when the fatigue is ongoing or on and off, shouldn’t we be sounding the alarm bells? We are designed to be physically active most of the day, to wake in the morning feeling refreshed, to cope with both short and long term stress.
So when this isn’t happening, we need to ask ourselves the big question – WHY?!
What is Chronic Fatigue?
Chronic fatigue is associated with intense or prolonged tiredness, exhaustion and can include an inability to cope with normal everyday life, where we can easily become overwhelmed, effecting our tolerance and responses to others, our mood and ultimately compromise our quality of life.
Signs and Symptoms
We should seriously be questioning any ongoing fatigue. Especially in children.
Our kids shouldn’t be tired, they should jump out of bed, be on the go most of the day and feel great! If they can’t, they ARE NOT lazy, something is going on, so check all their lifestyle factors, then check their bloods for deficiencies. The “alarms” may be:
- Fatigue not relieved by sleep
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Craving for salt or salty foods
- Lethargy (lack of energy)
- Increased effort to do everyday tasks
- Feeling easily overwhelmed
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Increased time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
- Lightheaded when standing up quickly
- Mild depression
- Less enjoyment or happiness with life
- Thoughts less focused and more fuzzy
- Memory less accurate
- Feeling rundown
- Difficulty recovering from illness
- Don’t feel awake till after 10am
- Afternoon low between 3 and 4 pm
- Needs caffeine
- thyroid issues under or overactive
Why am I fatigued?
Lets take a look at some of the reasons that cause fatigue, a list of diet and lifestyle habits:
- Lack of sleep in general, of course
- Consistently going to bed after 11pm, sleeping with electronics in the bedroom, eating before bed – check out more on sleep hygiene.
- Using electronics for long hours
- Poor sleep quality and quantity
- Sleep apnea
- Lack of exercise
- Too much exercise
- Vitamin B12 insufficiency/deficiency
- Iron insufficiency/deficiency
- Folate insufficiency/deficiency
- Vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency
- Insufficiency of other nutrients can also cause fatigue
- Psychological stress
- Lack of pure water
- Food intolerances – eating foods which make you feel more tired after than before you started eating!
- Digestive issues – constipation or diarrhea
- Autoimmune conditions
- Excessive sugar consumption – white refined products (bread/pasta/cakes/biscuits etc), soft drinks, even overdoing natural sources may effect blood sugars levels
- Chemicals exposure – cleaning products, hygiene products, makeup – may impact your liver
- Recreational drug use has many short and long term effects, including chronic fatigue
- Too much or too little cortisol
Lets Talk A Bit About Cortisol
Your adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys, they produce various hormones, the main one being cortisol.
Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, regulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress: for example, blood sugar levels, metabolism, immune response, blood pressure, heart and blood vessel tone/contraction, central nervous system activation, anti-inflammatory action and many more.
This hormone fluctuates throughout the day but peaks in the morning. Too much or too little of this hormone can effect energy levels.
If You Are Fatigued, Where Do You Start?
The first thing to do is check on the quality and quantity of your sleep. Then, make sure you are eating good healthy wholefoods, that allow your bowels to move every day!
If this foundational work hasn’t helped, then checking inflammatory markers, B12, iron, folate, vitamin D, cortisol, insulin, electrolytes, liver function, food intolerances/allergies, thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions.