Why Am I So Tired? Top 12 Causes of Fatigue

18 Jun, 2015

Getting plenty of sleep but still exhausted? Before you blame your busy lifestyle, learn more about what might be at the root of your unexplained fatigue.

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Tiredness is often caused by an obvious or relatively minor problem, which is easy to fix, but occasionally it may be the sign of something more serious. Here are our top 12 causes of fatigue and what to do about them:

1. Lack of sleep

This sounds simple but one of the most common causes of fatigue is getting too little sleep.  

Your age has a lot to do with sleep requirements. Babies need about 16 hours a day and teenagers about nine. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night, and recent studies show that getting less than six or seven hours sleep a night can lead to problems such as heart disease, depression and weight gain.

Taking sleeping tablets to help you have a restful night isn’t a good solution long term, and heavy doses can mean you don’t get the right type and combination of sleep.

There is now a growing number of alternative therapies proven to aid deep sleep which aren’t addictive and don’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Acupuncture, massage and several herbal remedies like Valerian, Kava, and Zizyphus are all commonly used treatments to effectively support your nervous system and induce longer, deeper sleep patterns. Find out more about natural treatment options here.

For some effective sleep tips to start at home, click here. 

2. Eating too little

It’s another obvious cause of fatigue. Not eating enough or having the wrong foods can be a problem. If you start your day with doughnuts, your  blood sugar will peak and crash, leaving you sluggish. So always eat a healthy  breakfast. Try to include protein and complex  carbohydrates, like eggs and wholemeal toast, to keep your energy levels stable. Here are our Top 10 Foods to Boost Your Mood.

3. Anaemia

Anaemia is one of the top causes of feeling constantly run-down. It happens when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to your tissues and organs. It’s easily diagnosed with a blood test.

Treatment depends on the cause. The commonest cause of anaemia,  iron deficiency, can be corrected by eating  iron-rich food such as lean meat, shellfish and iron-fortified cereals, or taking iron  supplements. Talk to one of our Health Practitioners to find out how to manage your anaemia.

4. Thyroid Problems

The  thyroid is a small gland in your neck. It controls your  metabolism, the speed at which your body converts fuel to energy. When it is underactive and metabolism functions too slowly you may feel sluggish and put on weight. Do you have thyroid issues and struggle with fatigue even on thyroid medication? Check out some effective strategies here to help overcome this debilitating symptom.

5. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)

If your fatigue lasts more than six months and is so bad that you can’t manage your daily activities,  chronic fatigue syndrome (also called myalgic encephalopathy or ME) is a possibility. It can have various symptoms but the main one is persistent, unexplained exhaustion.

There’s no quick fix for CFS but people with the condition often benefit from changing their daily routines, learning  better sleep habits and taking certain supplements. Find out more here.

6. Sleep apnoea

Some people think they’re getting enough shut- eye but this condition robs you of sleep sometimes without you even knowing about it.  Sleep apnoea briefly stops your breathing many times during the night. Each interruption disrupts your sleep for a moment, but you may not be aware of it. The result is you’re sleep-deprived, despite spending a full eight hours plus in bed, and feel exhausted during the day.

It’s most common among overweight middle-aged men. Alcohol and  smoking make it worse. The solution is to  lose weight,  stop smoking and avoid alcohol in the evening. Some people sleep with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device to help keep their airway passages open at night.

7. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

If you’ve ever had a  urinary tract infection, you’re probably familiar with the burning pain and need to urinate, but the infection doesn’t always have such obvious symptoms. In some cases, fatigue may be the only sign. If you go to your doctor you may be given  antibiotics to cure your UTI and the tiredness should disappear along with it. We also have a great natural supplement to help prevent UTI’s if you are prone to them. Talk to one of our Health Practitioners about it.

8. Food intolerance

Food intolerance can make you feel sleepy and groggy. This fatigue can be extreme in some cases. We have a Food Intolerance test at the clinic which tests for over 50 food types and your reaction to them. An elimination diet may then be required. Find out more here. 

9. Diabetes

When you’ve got  diabetes the  sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of entering the body’s cells, where it would have been converted to energy. The result is a body runs out of energy despite having enough to eat.  One of the main undiagnosed  symptoms of diabetes can include extreme tiredness. If you have persistent fatigue, ask your GP about having a blood  test for diabetes. There are a variety of natural treatments available and if you suffer Type 2 diabetes, it is possible your condition can be reversed by following dietary and lifestyle conditions. Find out how to manage diabetes naturally here. 

10. Heart disease

When everyday tasks like cleaning the house or climbing the stairs leave you feeling exhausted, it can be a sign that your  heart is not up to the job. It could be an early sign of  heart disease. Seek medical advice. There are lifestyle changes, medication and therapeutic procedures to get  heart disease under control.

11. Depression and/or Anxiety

Depression doesn’t only cause emotional symptoms, it can cause physical symptoms as well. Fatigue,  headaches and  loss of appetite are among the most common physical symptoms. If you feel tired and down for more than a couple of weeks seek medical advice. If you treat the  depression the fatigue should lift as well.

Some people have constant, uncontrollable feelings of  anxiety, which are so strong that their life is significantly affected. Doctors call this  generalised anxiety disorder where as well as feeling worried and irritable, people often feel tired.

It can be a circular complaint: A lack of sleep can affect your  mental health.

Natural therapies can be a great to help manage mental health problems, for example research has shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment option when facing depression. Find out more here. 

12. Glandular fever

Glandular fever is a common viral infection that causes tiredness as well as a fever, sore throat and  swollen glands. Teenagers and young adults are most prone to it. In the main, symptoms clear up within four to six weeks, but the fatigue can linger for several more months.

Final thoughts

Sometimes it’s obvious why you’re feeling tired. You may have small  children to look after. You may be overweight or underweight, which can also affect your energy levels. But if it’s not obvious, and something doesn’t feel right inside, please take yourself to a Health Practitioner who can run some tests and get to the bottom of the problem. There is so much we can do for you.