DISCLAIMER: Let me preface this post by saying that this is absolutely NOT to be taken as medical advice. First and foremost, if you are experiencing chronic fatigue, tiredness, etc. and especially if it is a new issue, please make sure to check with your Dr. as a first step to ensure you don’t have a medical condition that needs treatment.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at several common areas that many of us overlook or neglect that contribute to feelings of tiredness and fatigue.
We hear it all the time, “Make sure to get enough sleep.” However, we’re also realistic and tend to say, “It would sure be nice but that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.” If you are not getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, chances are you are going to experience some form of fatigue and tiredness on a regular basis. Finding ways to get just a bit more sleep can pay off with huge returns.
Naps are an excellent way to get a bit more sleep if it fits within your lifestyle. If you work from home or are a stay-at-home parent, you may have an advantage if you plan your days well. I’ve worked from my home for about 20 years now and I utilize naps as needed. I find that a short nap of 20-30 minutes works best, otherwise I feel groggy if I sleep too long. This is a great way to revitalize. If you don’t work from home, you may be able to add in a nap in your car at lunch. I’ve also used this approach when I did not work from home. It may also prevent you from eating from the vending machine in the office which can be a double win!
Prioritizing your physical and mental health is also extremely important. Interestingly, studies have found that improving physical health also has a significant positive effect on mental health and depression. So, finding ways to increase physical activity and especially adding in some form of regular exercise can have a tremendous impact on overall levels of energy, both physically and mentally.
Other things you may find helpful in this area are any type of activity that helps you to relax. A walk in the park, a hike, sitting on the balcony reading a book, yoga, meditation, prayer, listening to music, getting a pet, etc. are all ways of reducing stress and can potentially help with improving overall levels of energy.
We hear all the time that we need to make sure to stay hydrated. However, it truly is an important and often overlooked area of our health and it can significantly impact our energy levels when we are dehydrated. Don’t overcomplicate it. You don’t need a special formula to figure out how much water you need. Keep it simple. Make sure your urine is light or clear in color and you’re probably good. If you are feeling a bit light headed or have a low-grade headache, one good initial action is to simply grab a glass of water. Headaches are often caused by simply not having enough fluid.
Finally, we come to vitamins and minerals. I don’t necessarily recommend that you go out and start taking loads of vitamin supplements. In fact, it would be a good idea to first get your bloodwork done by your Dr. to find out if you are deficient in any areas. Some areas of particular interest when it comes to fatigue are iron, vitamin B, and vitamin D.
If iron and vitamin B are a problem area, you may look to add some red meat to your diet. This is an excellent source of these two vitamins. Also, if you are vegan or vegetarian, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin B from plant sources alone so you may need to consider supplementation. Iron in plants is also not as bioavailable as the form found in meat so you generally need a higher intake if plants are your only source of iron. Again, your Dr. may recommend supplements if your blood shows low levels of these two.
Vitamin D is one of those where most people could probably use supplementation. Most of us simply do not get enough direct sunlight to provide adequate vitamin D. When we are outside, we often cover up with sunscreen which prevents vitamin D production as well. Furthermore, food sources generally don’t provide enough vitamin D to offset this deficiency. Most people can benefit from a simple dose of 2,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily (make sure it is D3 as it is the most bioavailable). That’s basically 1-2 tablet from most brands you find in the drugstore. Make sure to take it with a meal or your fish oil (yes, fish oil is also a great supplement for most people) as it requires fat for optimal absorption. Also, don’t go any higher than this unless instructed by a physician as it is possible to get too much vitamin D which may result in a serious medical condition.