Why Am I Always Tired?
Is there a reason why you always feel tired?
Have you ever wondered why you sometimes feel tired, fatigued and unable to jumpstart the regular activities of your day?
Typical responses to this question that I have heard in our clime include, “It’s malaria and typhoid”, “I am stressed” or “I have not rested enough”. These answers are possibilities including the deficiency of vital nutrients such as vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and potassium, to mention a few.
My tiring experience…
However, I would like to share an experience I had this weekend. I developed a nasty, nagging headache during the course of the day. I had a few demands to meet up with and I was able to get through them but the headache remained. I checked if I was hungry and if I was dehydrated. I filled my tanks in the process. The headache didn’t bulge. I decided to take a nap but guess what? I awoke with the headache. I eventually resorted to an analgesic. After a couple of hours, devoid of respite, I said to myself, “I am not going to miss my evening walk because of this headache”. So off I went into the glorious sunset, humming away and taking photos of the cloudy sky. It was fun indeed. Within my first 100 steps, the headache had subsided considerably and by the time I made my way inside, only a tiny fraction remained.
The drug or the walk?
What happened? You may be thinking, “It was the analgesic effect of the medication setting in”. In my opinion, it was the walk. Within the first five minutes, I felt a remarkable improvement. My fatigue and ache disappeared. I will like to point out that this was not a brisk walk. The pace at which I walked was much slower. Then guess what? This has also been researched into. I will therefore like to share with us the common reasons for you being tired and what you can do to reduce or avoid it.
- A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with tiredness or fatigue. Often times, our daily activities encourage us to stay glued to our seats. Be it in the office, during our daily commute, while trading, consulting, attending an in-person or virtual meeting or relaxing at home, we are encouraged to remain seated. I have heard people say, they have not started to exercise because they feel exhausted after work and just need to rest. However, a study suggests that exercising for just 10 minutes can elevate the mood for the next two hours. Hence, the reason why it is recommended for those with anxiety disorders and depression.
- The high intake of sugar as found in industrially baked goods, fast foods, pet drinks or energy drinks tends to give an energy boost which several persons love. However appealing, what several people don’t realise is that this ‘high’ is short-lived and is soon followed by a crash in the mood. Once your mood crashes, your energy levels are likely to plummet as well.
- Inadequate sleep is responsible for some of our fatigue. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep at night may seem like a sheer waste of time. However, in-depth research shows that our body repairs itself while asleep. Missing out on these important hours of the night constantly leads to sleep deprivation, persistent fatigue and an increased risk of lifestyle-related diseases.
- Social isolation and loneliness are also associated with mood-related disorders and fatigue which could result from low self-esteem and poorly managed stress. Social isolation has been associated with an increased risk of dementia.
In order to improve energy levels, relying on sugary drinks and caffeine may not be the way out. The following tips may prove useful if you find yourself feeling constantly fatigued.
- Go for a low intensity walk or a stroll. Once you feel fatigued, you don’t require a brisk walk or a run. Walk slowly particularly for the first 10-15 minutes. Soon the feel-good hormones, known as endorphins will be secreted into the bloodstream, lifting your mood and energy levels. You can then decide to walk faster and enjoy the rest of your walk. Walk mindfully. Appreciate nature along the way.
- Get a good night sleep. Restorative sleep reduces fatigue especially in the workplace and improves concentration and work performance. Screen time is associated with sleep disruption and a non-restorative sleep. Avoiding television or computer screens close to bedtime will enhance your sleep.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day. Go around with a bottle of water. Whenever you feel tired or exhausted after a day’s work, take a glass of water instead of a highly refined drink.
- Stay connected to loved ones. These could include family members, old class-mates or members of your volunteer group, fellowship or association. Ask for help. Communication, collaboration and partnerships strengthen ties, bonds and resilience.
- Plan your day. Have a daily, weekly or monthly schedule you can follow and avoid going round in circles before getting things done. This will limit exhaustion, stress and burnout.
- Find reasons to be thankful. I know it is hard, especially when you consider the constant bad news all around. However studies show that gratitude or thanksgiving reduces the levels of unhealthy emotions that lead to depression and associated illnesses. It is also a scriptural injunction for gaining strength. Taking a walk through nature will infuse you with gratitude to God for the wonders of creation.
- Go for regular check-ups. There are far more reasons why you could feel tired in the middle of the day or week. Driving in traffic, emotional distress and several illnesses lead to fatigue. It is therefore important to take a regular, thorough health check to rule out the presence of age-related or lifestyle-related diseases. This should be encouraged either bi-annually or annually as recommended by your healthcare provider. Don’t let these diseases creep upon you. Early screening saves lives.
In conclusion, feelings of tiredness and fatigue are common complaints among the young and the old. However, you don’t have to remain tired. Take advantage of the resources available to you and make a healthy lifestyle choice everyday.
Dr Ore Taiwo Makinde is a Consultant Family Physician and certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician.