How is your Energy Level? Getting Ahead of Fatigue….
Liza M. Colimon
Gynecologist, Minimally Invasive Surgeon, Pelvic Pain Specialist
If you are feeling tired, sleepy, have a lack of energy, or have difficulty getting your day started then you are not alone. “Fatigue” may be defining you. Fatigue is a common complaint for men and women across the United States and make up almost one third of visits made to primary care physicians every year. Whether your symptoms are sudden or have kept you under the covers for months the most important step is to first identify that there is a problem and find a physician you feel comfortable with to help get to the bottom of what may be causing your energy loss. Here are a few things to consider if Fatigue has been dominating your day and preventing you from being the usual multi-tasking pro ….
- Your Medical History
Many individuals don’t realize the roles their medical history may be playing in their energy level. If you have a medical condition and have noticed major changes in your ability to get through your day …the answers may be closer than you think. Many conditions can cause fatigue and leave you feeling like you haven’t slept a wink all night. If you suffer from Thyroid Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Autoimmune diseases, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Anemia or Cancer, to name a few, it is important to talk to your doctor. Blood tests or further medical studies may be warranted. Other infections can also cause energy loss such as Lyme Disease, Epstein-Barr Virus (Mononucleosis), and HIV. Be sure to inform your health care provider if you have any risk factors for infectious causes such as recent travel, camping or hiking, or if you work around other individuals that may have been ill. Also consider your mood history…Depression and Anxiety are often linked hand in hand with fatigue. Many medications such as anti-anxiety treatments and anti-depressants can often cause energy loss. There are many medication options so it is important to figure out which will work best for you.
- Are you getting a good Night’s Sleep?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention site insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic. Poor sleep quality is a major cause of tiredness and fatigue effecting an estimated 50-70 million adults in the United States. Increased access to technology in recent years has been to blame as well as work schedules. However sleep disorders such as Insomnia and Obstructive Sleep Apnea must be ruled out. Snoring is a major indicator of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you’ve been told you snore and you suffer from energy loss, you must be evaluated by a physician and undergo a sleep study.
If you are frequently awakened due to stress, movement, a snoring spouse, children, or pets maybe it is time to reconsider your environment and nighttime ritual. It may be time to turn off your television and stow your iPad and cell phone in another room. Although most adults average less than 6 hours of sleep per night, the National Institute of Health suggests adults need a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep. For many individuals, advocating for a good night’s rest will take work.
Treat yourself to a good night sleep by setting the tone:
Schedule a regular bedtime for yourself each nigh
Avoid caffeine and alcohol 4-6 hours prior to your bedtime
Create a sanctuary for sleep, comfortable bed, dark room, peace and quiet!
Avoid eating 4 hours prior to sleeping
Limit use of technology and television 2-4 hours before bedtime
- Manage your Diet
Diet plays an important role in your overall physical health and well being. Healthy eating can ward off unwanted medical problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Although participating in the latest diet trends may be tempting, a balanced diet is key. Food is meant to be eaten and enjoyed, but always in moderation. Nutritionists typically recommend eating three meals with two healthy snacks in between. Be sure not to skip breakfast. Of all meals, breakfast is probably the most important one, providing you with an early foundation and energy bank to pull from. Skipping meals will ultimately lower your metabolism and contribute to fatigue.
Ready to grab a doughnut and coffee in the morning? Although carbohydrates give you an immediate energy boost, proteins will sustain you and provide you with the fuel you need to get through a taxing day. So start off your day heavier in proteins such as eggs or a protein shake. There are varieties of meats and bacons as well. Unfortunately, your latte packed with sugar and calories will likely leave you with hefty appetite come lunchtime.
- Exercise your Heart
It is no secret that exercise will ultimately energize you and protect your heart from cardiovascular disease in the process. The benefits are endless such as weight loss, stress reduction and improved sleep… all resulting in you feeling less exhausted during your day. The American Heart Association recommends one get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week or three days of vigorous aerobic activity for at least 25 minutes. Being active includes anything from walking, to climbing stairs and playing sports. Biking, swimming, and organized aerobic classes are also wonderful ways to exercise your heart and get your body moving. If it’s been awhile since you’ve pulled your cross trainers from the back of the closet, don’t panic. Make an exercise schedule you will adhere to. Start with a doable, logical plan such as walking. If you have a busy schedule but spare time on the weekends, start your routine on the weekends and add a day to be active every two-four weeks. Although you may feel tired after your initial efforts, eventually you will feel more energized.