Do you always feel tired?
The Fatigue Epidemic
As many as one to two people out of ten report that they feel tired or exhausted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some particularly important numbers from the CDC study:
- More women report that they always feel tired or exhausted than men across all age demographics (15.3% to 10.1%).
- The percentage of women who say they always feel tired or exhausted is consistent across age groups (from 18 to 64 years and up).
- The rate of men who report feeling very tired or exhausted increases by 71% from the ages 18-44 years (8.7%) to 45-64 years (12.2%).
As with many health studies, the above numbers likely understate the extent of the problem. Numbers aside, there is one fact that we can take away from all of this: far too many of us are suffering from fatigue. Even worse, we have chosen to simply “put up with it.” This is a bad idea, as we will talk about shortly.
When you feel tired all of the time, it negatively affects every aspect of your life – personally, professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. At its worst, feeling tired can even be deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that “driver fatigue” causes over 100,000 vehicle crashes every year; resulting in 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
When we choose to ignore feeling tired, we put our health – and quite possibly, our lives – at risk.
5 Big Reasons Why You Always Feel Tired, According to Science
“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” – Dale Carnegie
1. Lack of Sleep
Lack of sleep is the number one reason for the fatigue epidemic in the United States. It is estimated that more than one in three U.S. adults (35%) do not get enough shuteye. Besides ensuring a dreadful day to come, a poor night’s sleep – when allowed to remain a consistent habit – increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. In addition to making you always tired, poor sleeping habits also lower our tolerance for stress.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier; make this your “wind down time.”
- Sleep in a room that is relatively noise-free, cool, and comfortable.
- Go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends.
2. Bad Diet
What fuel is to your car, food is to your body. You wouldn’t fill your car with the wrong type of fuel; so why do so many of us make an exception for our precious body? It makes absolutely no sense, and a bad diet will simply make you feel always tired. Understand, accept, and adjust your lifestyle to this fact. Every thing you put into your body directly affects how you think, feel, and act. This knowledge equips you to live healthier than the vast majority of people.
- Prioritize protein and fiber for every meal.
- Eat something healthy every three to four hours.
- When possible, eat more whole (less processed) foods.
3. Lack of Physical Activity
We didn’t evolve to be couch dwellers. Not in the slightest. Think about this: For the first 199,000-plus years of our roughly 200,000 year history, our Homo Sapien ancestors – with whom we share well over 99 percent of our DNA – foraged, hunted, and gathered. In other words, they were in perpetual movement. If not, they perished. Now, fast-forward to 2018: 80 percent of us do not get the recommended amount of exercise. Over 20 percent of people don’t get any exercise at all. With such a genetic history, and the predominantly unhealthy behaviors of most adults, it’s no wonder researchers find a strong correlation between physical movement and energy levels.
- Don’t think of exercise as boring; find an activity that’s fun and also breaks a sweat!
- Try high-intensity interval training, or HIIT. (Example: The Tabata Routine)
- Get up and move around. Even if you’re at the office, just move!
4. Excessive Stress
Not all stress is bad! In fact, multiple studies have shown that a little stress can improve performance and the urgency needed to complete our to-do’s. Prolonged periods of high stress, however, throws the brain-body chemical balance out of whack. As a result, our body produces far too many stress chemicals than is necessary. When allowed to continue, this can damage our heart and drain our energy, making you feel like you’re always tired.
- Pinpoint the things causing too much stress.
- Refuse to take on more than you can handle (learn to say “no,” for example).
- Eliminate the people in your life who are toxic.
5. Medical Problems
Of course, no “stress list” would be complete without mentioning underlying medical conditions. If you’ve tried sleeping better, exercising more, eating healthier, and limiting your exposure to stress only to find you’re still always tired, it may be advisable to see your health and wellness professional. Here’s a list of underlying medical disorders that are known to cause excessive feelings of tiredness:
- Anxiety disorder
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Food intolerance
- Heart disease
- Nutrient/vitamin deficiencies
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Urinary tract infection