© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling
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Too Tired? Get Your Life Back!
“I am so tired I don’t have the energy I need for my family, my friends, my job or for me.” Summer is a time for lots of activity. Trying to keep up with the children or your responsibilities is difficult. Fatigue is a common health problem.
Approximately 20 percent of Americans complain to their doctors of fatigue. However, in my practice when I ask the question, “Are you fatigued?” the answer is, “Yes,” about 90 percent of the time!
Most causes of fatigue aren’t revealed through our annual physical. Your physician may have ordered a chemistry panel. The labs were normal and he or she says, “You’re fine.” But you know you are tired and lack energy.
There are days when you are exhausted even though you may have slept eight or nine hours. Some days you’re so low on energy you’re drowsy by lunchtime and you need a nap by mid-afternoon. At the end of the day, the thought of sex can seem ridiculous. The phrase, “Are you kidding?” is often expressed verbally or mentally.
You deserve to live your best life with abundant energy.
What’s making you so tired all the time? Stress, poor eating habits, overwork, even medical treatments can wear you down and cause fatigue. Perhaps you are bored, worried or not getting enough exercise.
Fatigue is not Simple
Fatigue may result from poor sleep, worry, boredom or lack of exercise. But let’s look further.
Anemia can cause fatigue especially in women during their reproductive years. Anemia can be caused by low iron, folic acid or B12. But many times anemia is not the cause. Men are tired, too. It is often harder for a man to admit he is tired.
Thyroid hormones affect metabolism, brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, skin dryness, menstrual cycles, weight, cholesterol levels and more. Low thyroid can cause the following symptoms:
A simple blood test, TSH, is not enough to make the diagnosis. A complete thyroid panel is required, including a TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies and a reverse T3. If the TSH is greater than 2.50 you probably have decreased thyroid function.
According to the American Thyroid Foundation, by age 60 approximately 17 percent of all women will have a thyroid disorder and most won’t know it.
Adrenal Fatigue is often the culprit. Do you feel tired, suffer from lack of sleep, and have joint pain or muscle stiffness? Do you frequently catch the flu or colds, feel anxious and depressed, and have headaches or gastrointestinal disturbances, difficulty concentrating or remembering, or experience various allergy symptoms? Do you have difficulty getting up in the morning, feel more fatigued from 3 to 5 p.m. and get a second wind in the evening? Are you craving salt? Do you feel lightheaded? Do you or others see you as not your old self?
“Eighty percent of people will suffer adrenal fatigue at some point in their lives,” says Dr. James Wilson, author of the best-selling book, Adrenal Fatigue: 21st Century Stress Syndrome.You may be one of them. Specialty testing is available to determine if low adrenal function is causing your fatigue.
Neurotransmitter imbalances such as low norepinephrine, low epinephrine or low glutamate can cause lack of energy, lethargy and fatigue. Low levels of serotonin and GABA can cause insomnia leading to fatigue, anxiety and depression.
The brain produces more than 100 neurotransmitters which control every thought, mood, pain and pleasure sensation we feel, as well as our energy level, motivation, appetite and cravings. Neurotransmitters even regulate how well we sleep, our sex drive and our ability to focus and concentrate. When out of balance, mood disorders and addictions can result.
When your neurotransmitters are tested they can be balanced using specific amino acids the body uses to make more neurotransmitters—and they don’t have side effects!
Hormone imbalances such as low levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone significantly impact our sleep, our energy and our sense of well-being.
While testosterone is also a female hormone, men with low testosterone experience fatigue, lethargy, lack of energy, depression, irritability and low libido in addition to muscle-wasting, weight gain and erectile dysfunction.
Balancing these hormones is very important because they also interact and support the thyroid hormones, neurotransmitters and the adrenal cortisol function. They really are dancing hormones.
Insomnia is all too common. Harvard states a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Lack of sleep not only affects alertness and energy, but it weakens your body’s defenses against infection, increases anxiety, and boosts your risk of chronic illness.
There’s compelling research indicating that sleeping less than six hours may increase your insulin resistance and risk of diabetes. And recent studies show that less than five hours of sleep can double your risk of being diagnosed with angina, coronary heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
Lack of sleep can cause weight gain! In the Nurses’ Health Study, 70,026 women were studied to see whether not sleeping enough increased the risk of future weight gain and even obesity. Researchers concluded that self-reported sleep restriction impacts your ability to burn calories and increases the risk of weight gain. In fact, they reported that women in the study who slept 7 to 8 hours per night had the lowest risk for major weight gain.
It’s also a safety issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that one in 24 adults say they have recently fallen asleep while driving. Sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages.
Start by looking at your sleep habits. Late night horror movies are not recommended. If you are light-sensitive use a mask. And what about the animals? Some of my patients are so sleep-deprived they can barely function. Upon further questioning, I find they are sleeping with so many animals it sounds like they are sleeping in a kennel.
Do you or your spouse snore? If so be evaluated for sleep apnea.
Other causes of insomnia are prevalent. Hormone or neurotransmitter imbalances, stress, low blood sugar and pain can all contribute to your lack of sleep.
Hidden infections, toxins, prolonged emotional and physical stress, poor nutrition, weight gain and medications can all cause fatigue. Hidden food allergies and gluten are common causes of fatigue.
Dealing with Fatigue
Fatigue is not simple but there are solutions for the symptoms. You can have an abundance of energy!
Keep your sense of humor and laugh a lot! A life of meaning and purpose, a life in balance with connection, community, love, support and a sense of empowerment are essential for health.
Overwhelming stressors such as social isolation, overwork and disempowerment create enormous strain on our nervous systems, leading to burnout and breakdown.
Find the underlying cause of your fatigue. Seek a knowledgeable practitioner who can find the pieces of the puzzle and provide the solutions to your symptoms without just writing a prescription.
You deserve to have energy, strength, restful sleep, motivation, joy, laughter, happiness, clear thinking, peace, healthy digestion, balanced hormones and a pain-free body. Choose to live your best life. You deserve it.