Do you suffer from extreme tiredness even when it’s only nine in the morning? Do you always have this nagging need for a cup of coffee to get an energy boost? You may be experiencing fatigue. It’s characterized by a constant feeling of exhaustion (physically and mentally) which prevents you from reaching your peak work performance levels. Fatigue affects over half a million Canadians.
Fatigue that’s been dragging on for six months and beyond is called chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). People with CFS find it difficult to concentrate, get into deep work, and perform mental and physical activities. They also feel perpetually tired even after having enough sleep the night prior. The top symptoms of CFS include headache, mental fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pains, and fever. Research has found out that fatigue is caused by a myriad of factors (genetics, social, physiological, and lifestyle habits). It’s most common among middle-aged adults.
These five ways can help combat extreme fatigue and bring your energy back:
Physical activity increases energy levels. It also has amazing benefits on the mind and body. It stimulates the production of hormones called epinephrine and norepinephrine which can, in moderate amounts, boost your energy. Exercising also helps lower your blood pressure, manage weight gain, and is proven to treat anxiety and depression. A good round of exercise (e.g. brisk walking and jogging) can help you have a good night’s sleep so you can have more energy for the following day.
- Reduce your sleep times.
Are you not getting adequate sleep? This may be counterintuitive but sleeping less during the day helps reduce the time you spend awake when you’re finally in bed at night. It makes you fall asleep faster and promotes deep sleep. Here are some steps to get started:
- Try to avoid napping during the daytime.
- On the first night, go to bed later than your usual sleep time and get only four hours of sleep.
- If you slept well within that period, add 15 to 30 minutes of sleep the following night.
- Once you’re sleeping soundly throughout the night, gradually increase your hours of sleep on successive nights. Strive to complete seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
- Cut back on caffeine.
Excessive caffeine consumption may cause insomnia. Your daily afternoon coffee habit may give you an instant kick of energy, but too much of it (to the point that your body cannot metabolize the caffeine properly anymore) can exhaust your energy. Try to reduce your coffee intake to five cups or fewer per day and avoid caffeinated drinks after dinner.
- Rest and relax.
Take some time off to relax and avoid overworking. One of the leading causes of fatigue is stress and overwork can take the form of professional, family, or social obligations. Structure your days according to your daily priorities. Set your must-do activities from the most to least urgent. For the least important tasks, try to delegate them to others who can lend you some help. And if you can, take 20 minutes in the afternoon to meditate and recharge your mind.
- Eat to store up energy.
Instead of eating three large meals per day, try to eat six smaller meals and snacks (every few hours) to evenly distribute your calorie intake throughout the day. Doing so can minimize your brain’s perception of fatigue, as it needs a steady flow of nutrients.
Here’s a couple of dietary reminders:
- Eat carbohydrate-rich foods for breakfast (e.g. whole grain bread or cereals). Your brain needs glucose from these foods to function properly for the first few hours of the day.
- Avoid skipping meals. Not eating enough food for long hours causes the blood sugar levels to plummet, resulting in a dip of energy.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grain foods. Minimize your fat and sugar intake.
- Always keep your body hydrated and drink plenty of water. A poorly hydrated body functions less efficiently.
Chronic fatigue can affect your health and overall quality of life. A nutrition expert in Oshawa may help you design a meal plan to make sure you’re consuming the right food groups that invigorate your body. Regaining your energy may take some time and a few behavioural adjustments along the way. But with expert help and follow through, you can grab ahold of a vibrant and healthy body.