Do you feel tired all the time? Do you lack the energy you used to have? Join the club. Chronic fatigue is an extremely common complaint and one with many different causes. Here’s what you need to know to get to the root of your problem…
• Lack of sleep
Although sleeplessness seems an obvious reason to be tired, it’s often overlooked. These days, people like to brag about how little sleep they need. But there are actually very few people who truly need only five or six hours a night. Most of us need eight. Some of us need nine or 10. Just because you can get by on six or seven hours a night does not mean that’s all the sleep you need. If you suffer from persistent fatigue, see how much better you’ll feel with an extra 30 or 60 minutes of sleep each night.
Maximize the quality of your sleep, too. Never work or worry in your bedroom. Make your bedroom as quiet as possible use earplugs if you must. If street lamps or other sources of light outside your window bother you, try heavy drapes or an eye shade.
• Lack of exercise
Too little exercise can cause fatigue or make it worse. Of course, over exercising can also cause fatigue, but moderate exercise is actually an energizer. What’s moderate? Twenty to 60 minutes three times a week is ideal. Do not exercise within two hours of bedtime. Doing so may interfere with your sleep.
Sleeping pills can cause a sort of fatigue “hangover” in many people. That goes for melatonin as well as prescription sedatives like diazepam (Valium). Fatigue can also be a side effect of many other over-the-counter and prescription medications, including blood pressure drugs like propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin) as well as many antidepressants and antihistamines. If you suspect your medication is making you tired, ask your doctor about alternatives.
Heavy meals, especially late in the day, or particularly starchy meals can cause fatigue. If you insist on a heavy meal, have it early in the day. A hearty breakfast is less likely to sap your energy than a hearty lunch or supper.
What else can you do to boost your energy? Consider taking vitamin and herbal supplements. B-complex is especially effective take this supplement once a day. Vitamin B-12 is good, too. Take 1,000 micrograms a day. Since B-12 is found almost exclusively in meat and dairy products, many strict vegetarians suffer from B-12 deficiency and from chronic fatigue as a result.
Vitamin B-12 may be better absorbed when it’s injected, and some people swear by injections for an energy boost. I generally prefer B-12 tablets. They’re far less costly and, I think, just as effective.
Coenzyme Q10 helps fight fatigue by maximizing the heart’s pumping efficiency. Take 30 mg once or twice a day.
Ginseng tea, capsules or extract can be a potent source of energy. Be sure not to mix ginseng with caffeine or another stimulant. The combination can cause palpitations or irregular heartbeat.
Siberian “ginseng” isn’t really ginseng at all, but another plant species called Eleutherococcus. It, too, has energizing qualities. Both herbs are adaptogens, meaning that they help the body to adapt to stress.
If these measures don’t boost your energy, see a doctor. You may be suffering from depression, anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome or another disease that requires medical intervention.