How is that you can awake from a full night’s rest, only to feel exhausted by 11 o’clock in the morning? If you can relate, you’re not alone — in fact, it’s estimated that at least one million Americans currently suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome – and many Australians. If you do not suffer from this syndrome, you may feel weak and tired based on a number of other possible lifestyle and medical factors.
Why Am I So Tired All the Time?
This is a question that millions of people ask themselves on a daily basis. It’s clear that between work and family duties, life quickly becomes hectic. Is it your busy lifestyle to blame, or is something else contributing to low energy levels? If you’re dragging your feet day-in and day-out, it’s important to be aware of the following potential factors.
Factor #1: Dehydration
Considering 60 percent of your body and up to 85 percent of your brain is composed of water, if you do not drink enough, you will quickly experience negative effects. According to the Institute of Medicine, approximately 75 percent of Americans do not consume enough water – it would be similar here in Australia. In turn, millions of people are experiencing chronic dehydration.
When you feel thirsty, it is a sign that you are already dehydrated. At this point, you suffer from reduced cognitive function. While surveying 300 GPs, it was found that one in five patients visit the doctor complaining about fatigue, which is attributed to not drinking enough water. Shockingly, only four percent of the doctors surveyed, said that their patients were aware of how much water they should be drinking.
If you are often tired, experience headaches, joint pain, and lack concentration, you may need to simply increase water consumption. It’s recommended that you drink half of your weight in ounces daily. Meaning, if you weigh 120 pounds, you need to drink around 60 ounces of water per day. (convert pounds to kilograms here)
Factor #2: Poor Diet
Nutrients sourced from your diet are essential for a wide range of biological functions. Although your body can synthesize some vitamins and minerals, the majority need to be consumed through your diet. This is why it’s essential for you to consume whole foods, offering your body the nutrients it requires. The key is consuming a wide variety of fresh foods, including plenty of fruit, vegetables, lean protein sources, nuts, and seeds.
Within a study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that as many as 97 percent of Americans are deficient in potassium, 70 percent don’t get enough vitamin D, and 30 percent do not consume enough vitamins A and C. While focusing on fatigue, B-vitamins, magnesium, and iron are of particular importance. Here are some suggestions based on common deficiencies:
- Iron-rich foods – grass-fed beef, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, beans
- Magnesium-rich foods – fish, bananas, yogurt, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens
- B-vitamin-rich foods – broccoli, lentils, spinach, eggs, shellfish, bran, dried fruit, seeds/nuts
- Potassium-rich foods – squash, sweet potatoes, beet greens, fish, edamame beans
- Vitamin K-rich foods – spinach, turnip greens, kale, parsley, endive, pumpkin
Factor #3: Imbalanced Hormones
For those who are overly tired, all the time, your hormones may be to blame. More specifically, your thyroid gland. Found in your neck, this small gland produces hormones which control your metabolism. Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can cause symptoms such as fatigue, muscle soreness, weakness, and a reduced ability to focus.
If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, you may also be overly sensitive to the cold, have brittle nails, hair loss, dry skin, and explained weight issues. It’s critical that you have your thyroid hormone levels checked, as severe complications can arise when left untreated. To support thyroid function, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, and selenium; manage emotional stress; and ensure that you’re getting enough sleep.
If you are concerned about chronic fatigue or an overall lack of energy, it’s important to visit a qualified health professional. Once the underlying causes are identified, you can work towards more sustainable energy levels, while improving your overall health.
Borland, S. (2015). Is dehydration the reason you’re tired ALL the time? One in five ‘don’t realise they need eight drinks a day.’ DailyMail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3096702/Could-one-five-GP-visits-dehydration-New-study-claims-fatigue-epidemic.html
Ericson, J. (2013). 75% of Americans May Suffer From Chronic Dehydration, According to Doctors. Medical Daily. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/75-americans-may-suffer-chronic-dehydration-according-doctors-247393
Fulgoni, V et al. (2011). Foods, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? Journal of Nutrition. 141(10), 1847-1854. doi: 10.3945/ jn.111.142257