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Science Behind Fatigue and Methods to Lower it. Why Do Always Feel Tired?

What circumstances require for great care due to fatigue and how to manage it.

Some people are full of life and energy, but even when you get more than enough sleep, you still seem to be always exhausted and yawning despite getting sufficient rest. Therefore, you aren’t the only one. The CDC reports that around 15.3% of American women and 10% of American men routinely experience being exhausted or drained. Which, in usual language, we call Fatigue.

But the question rises, what is fatigue? According to NHS, When sleep and rest don’t alleviate the persistent tiredness, we call it fatigue. It can be:

  • Physical: feeling exhausted, as though “dragging” or needing rest.
  • Lack of enthusiasm to accomplish anything, feeling gloomy or emotionally “drained.”
  • Mental: trouble focusing or maintaining attention, the sensation that one’s mind “goes blank,” or losing one’s line of thought.

But there are many chances you may mix up a weakness with fatigue. However, they describe two distinct feelings. A brief summary of both can be,

                         Weakness                          Fatigue
  • Weakness is the absence of physical or muscular strength and the feeling that additional effort is necessary to move the arms, legs, or other muscles.
  • Being overly exhausted or lacking in energy is sometimes referred to as fatigue. It’s not the same as being tired or exhausted.

We each have definitions of our typical energy level, what fatigue is, and what feels like something other than fatigue. We all experience low energy from time to time; however, if this sensation lasts many weeks in a row, it may be a symptom of fatigue.

Causes.fatigue cycle and causes

There can be many causes of fatigue as it manifests itself as a symptom that is related to many physical, emotional, and work-related problems, such as,

Physical Causes. 

Fatigue can be caused by many physical causes some of which are well-researched, such as,

  1. Medical Conditions. 

Fatigue is a key symptom of many different medical diseases, including but not limited to the following:

  • Anemia
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Covid-19
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Food intolerance
  • Heart disease
  • Underactive thyroid.
  • Food intolerance
  • Heart disease
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

When fatigue is accompanied by more significant symptoms, such as increased breathing difficulties, signs of a serious illness, irregular bleeding, or unexplained weight loss or gain, it is usually an emergency and a requirement to see a doctor.

The Lack of Sleep. A 1997 major study found that fatigue is a frequently reported symptom throughout the whole spectrum of sleep disorders.

That is why the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society agree that adults in their 18s-60s require at least 7 hours of sleep every night for optimal health. In addition to fatigue, poor performance, and increased accident risk that come with insufficient nightly sleep, negative health effects have been linked to those who consistently log fewer hours under the covers. Give a complete read to understand how bad sleep hygiene can affect our lives and health in this article.

Work-related Causes. 

Problems that are commonly encountered in the workplace are,

  • Shift working. The nighttime is when our biological clocks reset, making sleep essential. The circadian clock is a tiny brain region responsible for establishing this rhythm. As a result of working during the hours in which their body is supposed to be resting, shift workers often have disruptions in their natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Job stress. Excessive workload, conflicts with superiors or coworkers, bullying, continual change, and fears about one’s job security are only a few potential triggers of workplace fatigue.
Environmental Causes.

Environmental factors (your surroundings) may contribute to your fatigue. Both loud noises and high temperatures may be tiring. Arthritis sufferers may tire quickly from poor seating arrangements, the abundance of stairs, and the long waiting time.

Diet Can be a culprit too! There is some evidence that the food we eat is the primary cause of fatigue. If our bodies aren’t getting the nutrients they need, we could feel more exhausted than normal and unable to keep up with our regular schedules.

Intake of excessive amounts of refined sugar may directly contribute to being overly exhausted. Sugary foods like donuts and chocolate bars may offer us a temporary burst of energy, but they also cause our blood sugar levels to drop shortly afterward. Making us feel even lazier than before.

Symptoms of Fatigue.

Everyone experiences fatigue differently. For instance, you could feel:

  • Very exhausted and lacking in energy. All you want to do is sleep.
  • Pain commonly accompanies fatigue.
  • Occasionally, fatigue might cause a sense of helplessness. You may feel little control over your life.
  • Indecisiveness over everything, especially to the things you can control.
  • The difficulty of decisions increases. It appears that your intellect is also tired.
  • Constant exhaustion might make it challenging to maintain a nice or cheerful attitude. This might potentially disrupt your relationships.

Beige Modern Fatigue Symptoms Infographic

Fatigue & Aging.

You could find that your energy levels aren’t what they used to be, and you’re more in need of midday sleep as you age.

Older adults experience various challenges that may increase their likelihood of getting fatigued. They may be having physiological detoriaton, lack of sleep, changes in their cognitive ability, or social causes (mostly due to isolation), and may b suffering from anemia, dehydration, or arthritis.

Common signs and symptoms of fatigue in elderly people include the following:

  • Complaints of exhaustion or drowsiness
  • Sleeping excessively at Sleeping excessively at night
  • Weight reduction
  • A lack of motivation
  • Agitation or nervousness
  • Mood swings
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems

According to research, fatigue in older persons can be a predictor of mortality; therefore, it must be handled seriously and not dismissed as a natural aspect of aging.

Diagnosing Fatigue.

No diagnostic examinations exist to evaluate fatigue. However, a scale from 1 to 10 is useful for describing it, where 1 indicates that you do not feel weary at all, and 10 represents the greatest fatigue imaginable.

But that’s not it. Before addressing you for fatigue, your physician, nurse, or other healthcare providers will need to ask you a series of questions. These pertain to how you feel, your daily life, and the treatment you receive. Among the questions your physician may ask you are:

  • When did it begin? Is it consistent? or does it fluctuates with different scenarios?
  • Has it gone worse or improved over time with any activity? Examples include activity, eating, and pain.
  • Does it interfere with daily life? Like usual hose chores or work?
  • Do you experience any additional symptoms besides fatigue, such as nausea, shortness of breath, or pain?
  • Do you have any other significant issues in your life, such as personal, financial, or career concerns?
  • What medications are you taking presently, and when do you take them?
  • Do you have any difficulty in passing bowels or urine?

Information like this aid in the treatment decisions made for you by your team. If you’re too exhausted to respond to queries, perhaps your loved ones can step in and help.

A physical examination, such as palpitating, may also accompany it. It may include the examination of lymph nodes, tummy, or simpler ones like measuring blood pressure.

In the end, they might also recommend a chest x-ray and blood tests to learn more about your health. For instance, fatigue is caused by a low red blood cell count (anemia) or any other medical condition, such as sleep apnea.

When Should I worry? If you are a healthy person with no ongoing disease, but as previously mentioned, fatigue has persisted for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor.

Effective Strategies to Manage Fatigue Levels.

Fatigue is a symptom that can be felt and described, not a sickness. Before you can lessen your exhaustion, you must first identify its underlying causes. Simple lifestyle modifications can eventually improve it. Some of the proven methods are given below.

manage fatigue levels

  1. Keep a Diary. Keeping a fatigue diary might help you see problems and where you can improve. Includes details like when you feel most awake and alert.  Where do you feel the most tired?

If you decide to talk to your doctor about it, this journal will be quite useful. It can also assist them with a better diagnosis and treatment by viewing the diary and making medical judgments accordingly.

2. Rule out Health Concerns. Fatigue is a typical symptom of various diseases, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, and anemia. That is why you should consult a physician if you feel like you are having difficulty doing the simple things and activities you used to do or have an unusual level of fatigue. 

Medications might also lead to fatigue. Among these include antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, diuretics, and other pharmaceuticals. Inform your physician if you get weariness after taking a new medicine. So it’s always recommended to rule these conditions out and consult the related doctor for it.

3. Food For Energy. Be smart with your food choices. Always choose healthy opinions that don’t make you sluggish. The chemicals and preservatives used in highly processed foods are known to harm our energy levels. Eating various nutrient-dense foods can help us feel more alert and energized throughout the day.

Make sure you’re receiving enough of each macronutrient by dividing your plate into quarters and filling one with protein (fish, meat, or tofu), one with carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, or pasta), and the other half with veggies or salad.

Because our body requires energy, another wonderful way to keep going during the day is to consume small, high-energy snacks. Some people have found that eating light meals like snacks every two to three hours helps combat fatigue.

Dried or fresh fruits and berries are abundant in natural carbohydrates and protein that can help keep your body active. Sports drinks may also assist in hydrating you and restoring electrolytes or salts that keep your muscles running.

3 Increase Your Physical Activity. Increase your physical activity. It has been found in numerous studies that adults who began working out three times a week reported more energy after six weeks. People who actually exercise also report sleeping better.

Adhere to an exercise program prescribed by your physician or physical therapist. The appropriate sort and amount of exercise help maintain strong muscles, healthy bones, and functional joints. Physical activity may enhance your sense of well-being and boost your energy levels.

When you start exercising, your heart may beat faster, your breathing will speed up, and your muscles may feel tight. Nighttime tiredness may be followed by morning strength. These are typical responses to exercise, which indicate that your body is responding and becoming fitter, ultimately increasing stamina and reducing fatigue.

4. Yoga. Almost any exercise is beneficial for improving energy levels, but yoga may be especially useful. British researchers found that after six weeks of once-a-week yoga classes, participants reported improved self-esteem, energy, and focus.

If you think you are old enough to do so, but it is never too late to try. Researchers from the University of Oregon instructed 135 men and women between the ages of 65 and 85 in yoga. At the conclusion of six months, participants reported an increase in general vitality and a greater sense of well-being.

5. Stay Moderate on Coffee. While many studies show that coffee is good for your health, studies also show that your reliance on it can also make you tired. (1) This is true as caffeine block adenosine in your brain which normally accumulates during the day and makes you sleepy at night. But consuming coffee or any other caffeinated drink 6 hours before bed can ultimately affect your sleep quality.

6. Hydrate and Hydrate. You might consider making sure that you are fully hydrated too. As one study found that even a drop of 1.5% in our bodies of normal water levels can cause difficulty in concentrating and thickening of the blood, which makes nutrients and oxygen levels slower to body cells. In contrast, a 2% drop can make you feel thirsty. So it doesn’t mean gulping down gallons of water; adequate water intake is the key to staying hydrated.

This can be measured by urine color as a rule of thumb. A pale yellow means you are fully hydrated; any darker than this means it’s time to drink water.

7. Sleep is Equally Important. Good sleep hygiene is important. The recommended amount of sleep changes with age. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults aged 18 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Adults 65 and older require seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Some quick tips can be,

  • Make a consistent sleep routine.
  • Make sure your room is quiet, dark, and comfortable.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking before bed.
  • Use sleep sounds such as white noise.

Need more tips? Here in this article are some suggestions to help you get the full seven hours of sleep you need if you’re having trouble doing so.

9. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Medications are ineffective against fatigue. The issue can’t be fixed unless its underlying cause is addressed. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown in a large body of research to reduce fatigue caused by various medical issues effectively.

CBT is a sort of talk therapy that employs a systematic method that promotes rational thought and can be administered in either an individual or group setting. Typically, it entails writing down one’s thoughts, analyzing them, and repeating the process. Treatment may be suitable for fatigue patients who are also experiencing anxiety, anger, or depression.

10. Dont Hesitate To Ask For Help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Talk to family and friends or seek out resources in your community.

It’s certain that you’ll experience fatigue at some point in your life, whether it’s from a night out, binge-watching your favorite show, or working overtime. As a side effect, many medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, might leave you feeling weak or fatigued.


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Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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