This is a common question that we health professionals hear. There are many reasons for tiredness, and too many for the scope of this blog post to mention all of them. Some of the more common medical conditions include thyroid problems such as an underactive thyroid, anemia, nutritional deficiencies, and stress-related conditions. This will vary depending on the age and circumstances of the person involved. The younger the person, the more likely it is that is stress or lifestyle-related issue. With older patients, a practitioner has to be aware of more serious conditions such as cancer. Obviously serious conditions may occur in younger patients too, but thankfully it is not as common. If there is any doubt, you should consult your health practitioner for further advice. However, often people have multiple investigations, which are normal, and they still complain of tiredness.
What I will try to do is to try to look at it from a lifestyle point of view as from a tiredness point of view, these lifestyle factors often have a very important role in many people with tiredness. We have treated many patients with this condition and have found that by improving these factors that we can dramatically improve the condition of the person.
Nutrition is one of the main foundations that we encourage. If you do not have the right building blocks for your body, it will not be able to maintain itself. Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are all needed to keep the body going and repair it where needed. Vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients are also needed for maintenance. We at Merge Health recommend whole foods, that will give the appropriate nutrients to repair the body and maintain the body’s tissues. To put it simply, for tired people, we find that the best diet to rebuild the body is protein and vegetables. For example, meat such as chicken, fish, steak, and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow such as green (leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli), orange (carrots), red such as capsicum and purple (carrots and cabbage) are just some of the delicious foods that would help to rebuild a fatigued body.
An incredibly important part of the recovery process is getting sleep right. Sleep is hugely important because it allows the body to recover, regenerate, and repair, which no other process is able to do. This has the effect of enabling the immune system to maintain itself and hormones to regulate. Dimming the lights at sundown, and minimizing and even eliminating the use of blue light such as TV and computers is the first step. Getting early to bed, at a regular time each night is the next step. Then calming the mind as in the use of techniques such as mindfulness meditation should be used to get the mind into the right state to sleep.
We find that stress is a huge contributor to tiredness and fatigue. In our western societies, we live in an incredibly stressful environment, where we are constantly stimulated. Plenty of coffee and stimulants, mixed with the constant visual stimuli such as the use of iPhones and iPads are the norm in our way of life. Add into life other stressors such as stressful jobs, people working longer hours, and perhaps people having to keep up materially with other people around them. This has produced people who are chronically tired and stressed. What is the answer for this? Part of the answer lies in simplifying attitudes towards life, not having to keep up with “the Jones'” and being content with what you have. Another part of the answer is learning how to deal with stress, by using techniques such as mindfulness meditation. This technique enables the person to become present.
What has this got to do with tiredness? There is a biological theory called hormesis, whereby there needs to be some stress present in order for the body to get stronger. In other words, there need to be small amounts of stress such as exercise which will cause the body to express certain genes, that will make certain tissues and thus build up the body. How should we do this? Gradually. Slowly the amount of exercise is increased from a few minutes to half an hour. Most people will benefit from a 20 to 30-minute walk every day. The goal should be to make at least 10 000 steps per day.
The question Why am I always tired is a complex one. This is an increasing phenomenon in today’s busy and stressful world, where most people are fuelled by food with poor nutrition, sleeping less, and exercise is non-existent. We are living longer, but living a poorer quality of life. What sort of life are you leading? Will you allow tiredness and fatigue to get the better of you?