Fatigue is a common complaint today. Many people are tired occasionally, after a busy, over-scheduled day, but when fatigue becomes chronic and interferes with daily activities, there may be an underlying reason. A recent survey by Sydney's Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Australia found that 11.7 percent of people suffer from chronic daytime sleepiness, 32 percent have insomnia or sleep disturbances and almost 18 percent sleep fewer than 6.5 hours a night. If you are getting a healthy 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and are still tired all the time, here are some reasons that could explain your fatigue:
A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean meats can improve your energy level. Poor diets that consist of fast food, junk food, refined sugars and white flour leave you feeling tired because your body is simply not getting the nutrients it needs. Whole grain carbohydrates, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread and pasta, are better choices because these foods are easily converted to sustainable energy. Low levels of iron also can contribute to fatigue. Red meat and green leafy vegetables provide your red blood cells with the oxygen and nutrients they need.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day. Because an average person's body weight is 60 percent water, most people are not getting the recommended amount. Dehydration is the result. When you become dehydrated, your blood volume falls and your heart has to work harder to pump the same volume, which can lead to fatigue.
Being overweight puts a lot of strain on your heart. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, a random sampling of 16,500 people showed 8.7 percent had excessive daytime sleepiness and this fatigue was more strongly associated with obesity. Those with a body mass index over 32 (anything higher than 25 is considered overweight), reported double the incidence of tiredness during the day.
Alcohol and Caffeine
Some people use caffeine to wake up in the morning and alcohol to relax and sleep at night. This can create a vicious cycle of tiredness as your body begins to depend on these substances. Even if alcohol helps you feel sleepy, it can disrupt your sleep cycle. You may still sleep for 7 to 8 hours, but if the quality of sleep is disrupted, you will still wake up feeling tired.
Fatigue can be the result of a treatable medical condition. According to Dr. Mansfield at Melbourne's Epworth Sleep Center in Australia, the top three medical reasons for fatigue are depression, iron deficiencies and thyroid disease. All of these can be treated with the right medication. A simple blood test can determine if you are anemic and whether your thyroid is functioning properly.