I’ve noticed lately that when I ask friends how they’re doing, half the time their response is either “tired,” “exhausted,” or “beat” — it’s almost as though being worn out is just another part of our busy, modern-day lives that we’re somehow supposed to get used to. But I believe that when our bodies and minds are in sync and healthy, we should feel amazing and energized even when our schedules are full. If we’re getting enough rest, exercising and eating foods that fuel us, we should feel strong, satisfied and alert. But as most of us know, that’s easier said than done, and there are several reasons why you may be feeling mysteriously tired. Click through the slides to find out some of the most common causes — then make some lifestyle changes or get to your doctor asap so you can rediscover the energy you need to feel your very best!
Even slight dehydration has been shown to cause moodiness and fatigue in women; other signs can include headaches and inability to concentrate. It’s an easy fix: just drink more fluid throughout the day! Women should consume, on average, 2.2 liters of liquid a day, more if it’s hot outside or you’ve been exercising. I try to keep a big bottle of water on my desk while I’m working or in the car when I’m driving, so I can continuously sip throughout the day.
Not getting enough sleep.
Before you roll your eyes at how obvious this one is, think about it: are you really getting 7 – 8 hours every night? Because that’s the amount that most people need, and if you’re not, this is likely what’s causing fatigue. Make an effort to get to bed earlier, and stick to a regular nighttime routine that encourages a restful nights’ sleep.
Sometimes people think they’re getting a good night’s sleep, but if you suffer from sleep apnea, you experience short bursts of wakefulness through the night caused by brief interruptions in your breathing. Since people often aren’t even aware that they have it, a doctor may order a sleep test to diagnose.
Not fueling your body with the right food.
Eating too little is an obvious issue, but eating the wrong foods can also be a major drain on your energy levels. Including protein (eggs, fish, meat), healthy fats (avocado, nuts) and good-for-you-carbs (fruit, slower processed grains like quinoa and oats) will give you long-burning energy. Simple carbs and sugar will make you crash and burn.
This is one of the most common reasons why many women feel mysteriously fatigued all the time. If your doc says you have an iron deficiency, take a high-quality supplement and if you can, incorporate meat, shellfish, and beans into your diet.
Not getting enough exercise
It may seem counterintuitive, but anyone who regularly works out will tell you that breaking a sweat actually gives you more energy throughout the day. I try to get my heart rate up every morning, and even better if it’s outside (sunshine is one of the most effective natural energizers!) On days where I skip my AM workout, I definitely feel more sluggish by the time the afternoon hits.
Your thyroid controls how fast or slow your body converts fuel into energy, and hypothyroidism means that it’s under-active, resulting in a slower metabolism. Fatigue is usually accompanied by weight gain. Head to the doctor for a blood test if you think you may need to get your thyroid checked.
Food allergies or sensitivities
If you have an undiagnosed food allergy or sensitivity, fatigue after eating can be one symptom. Try eliminating certain foods to test your intolerance levels (dairy and gluten are the most common offenders), and see if your fatigue improves. You can also see a functional medicine doctor who can run a full spectrum of tests to help you pinpoint any sensitivities.
Many people don’t realize that depression has physical symptoms as well as emotional. If you’ve been feeling down in the dumps and tired for a few weeks, especially combined with loss of appetite or headaches, consider seeing a doctor to get it checked out.