Being tired is such a fact of modern life that it’s easy to forget it’s not normal. Sure, if you had a late night, just moved into a new house, started a new job, or are ill, you’re going to feel tired for a time. But if fatigue is part of your daily life, if no amount of sleep makes a dent in your tiredness, or if fatigue penetrates you to the bone, then it’s a real health problem.
This deeper level of fatigue becomes more common as we age, but can happen to any of us at any time.
Tiredness is often a biological syndrome related to low energy reserves and less muscle mass. Other times, fatigue is a psychological reaction to social stressors. The antidote in simple cases of chronic tiredness is merely to push yourself to be active, with the goal of rebuilding muscle and re-sparking your joy and energy for life. Exercise may make you tired afterward, but it’s the best medicine of all for general fatigue and listlessness.
Other times fatigue is a symptom of a deeper health issue, ranging from the simple, such as an infection, to the serious such as cancer. Whether it’s a symptom or the result of other issues, tiredness predicts future disability and sometimes even death.
If you feel chronically tired, take it seriously. Start with a full physical with your healthcare provider, then add one or more of the following strategies.
3. Take a Power Nap – Just 10 to 20 minutes. These naps are indeed powerful at restoring energy levels. Following the nap, wash your face with cold water, then go outside in the sunlight or sit under a bright lamp while you drink a cup of regular tea. These post-nap activities alone or together, will give you more energy than the nap alone.
4. Get screened for Depression – Feeling fatigued and tired regardless of how much you’re sleeping is a primary symptom of depression. Ask your doctor to administer a depression screen test.
5. Ask for a Blood Test – Anemia, or low levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, can be a major cause of fatigue. A simple blood test can indicate if you’re anemic, and a course of prescription-strength iron or other medications can improve anemia within a few weeks.
6. Go herbal with Roseroot – Supplements of Rhodiola rosea L, also called Arctic root or roseroot, can improve fatigue. It’s considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning it helps strengthen your body systems to better manage stress. The plant is used in traditional medicine to stimulate the nervous system and reduce depression so it makes sense that it could help with tiredness.
7. Try Siberian Ginseng – Another adaptogen, this herb significantly improved symptoms among 45 people with moderate fatigue as compared to a placebo group.
8. Choose the right antioxidant – One that seem to help people with unexplained chronic fatigue is coenzyme Q10. Certain medications can reduce levels of this important antioxidant in the body, particularly the widely prescribed cholesterol drugs called statins.
9. Try Yoga – Yoga is great at any age. This ancient stretching, strengthening, mind/body regimen offers something for everyone, regardless of physical condition. In a survey, 25 percent of people with unexplained fatigue who added yoga to their activities found it improved their fatigue throughout the two-year study period. Try the form called pranayama. It involves breathing techniques and stretching, and in one study, it significantly improved mental and physical energy in people with chronic fatigue.
10. Breathe deeply – Cumulative stress could be the culprit behind your fatigue. That’s why relaxation breathing may help. In one study of patients who had had stem-cell transplants, those assigned to listen to a tape that instructed them in relaxation breathing for 30 minutes a day for six weeks reported significantly lower levels of fatigue than a group who didn’t listen to the tape. It may test your patience at first, but give prolonged deep breathing a try. It’s the next best thing to yoga or meditation and requires no training or skill. Merely sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and slowly and fully inhale through your nose, the slowly exhale through your mouth. Keep doing it for 15 minutes. For variation, feel free to add a gentle stretch or move your ankles in circles while performing the deep breathing.
Remember, Take charge of your health! Health isn't something that happens to you, you make it happen!
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