Often linked to lifestyle, stress, modern technology, and medical conditions, tiredness is one the most common health problems we face today. Normal sleepiness occurs at regular intervals following a circadian rhythm that signals the onset of sleep. Abnormal sleepiness, associated with the inability to stay awake at inappropriate times, is a complex physical, physiological or psychological issue that can be exacerbated by disrupted sleep, illness, and current societal pressures. While tiredness is often used to describe both sleepiness and fatigue, they are two separate and distinct conditions, and your health depends on recognizing the difference.
Fatigue is defined as a sustained and overwhelming sense of exhaustion, and decreased capacity to function at the usual level. Although chronic fatigue is not normally accompanied by excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue needs to be taken seriously, as it’s an indication that your body is unable to keep up. While exercise is recommended to help those who are tired, it can exacerbate chronic fatigue, which requires rest, in addition to sleep.
Certain medications and medical conditions, including anemia, diabetes, obesity, adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction, and more, can all deplete energy stores. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are certainly aggravating factors. Add in lifestyle behaviors such as too much alcohol and caffeine consumption; as well as excessive or non-existent exercise, insufficient relaxation time, poor quality sleep, and our 24/7 seemingly sleepless world; and we have a recipe, not only for weariness, but for reduced quality of life.
Good nutrition is often overlooked as a defining factor for poor energy stores. Caffeine and energy drinks may provide a short-term energy boost. However, it’s proper nutrition and a balanced diet that supplies the daily energy reserves to support bodily function, physical, emotional, and psychological health, and overall wellbeing.
Eating strategies to help maximize energy levels:
Eating smaller, more frequent meals helps to fuel a healthy metabolism and prevent unwise snacking. As the brain has limited energy reserves, providing a steady supply of healthy nutrients supports focus and cognitive function.
In addition to smaller meals, healthy snacks help bridge the gap until the next meal. A handful of nuts, unflavored yogurt, or a piece of fruit may be all you need to ward off sluggishness.
Caffeine is a useful stimulant that can increase alertness. However, to take advantage of its energizing effects caffeine should be used wisely. Too much caffeine can result in insomnia, especially for the caffeine-sensitive or when consumed late in the day or evening.
Hydrating with water or unsweetened tea is often all it takes to keep your energy levels constant. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue, so drink up throughout the day and especially before, during and after exercise.
The amount of alcohol consumed determines the effects. One glass of wine or beer has a stimulant effect, but when more is consumed it acts as a depressant, slowing vital functions. These sedative effects that may help one fall asleep faster. However, alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis and can impair sleep function, resulting in insomnia.
Ease up on sugar consumption. Sugar will cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, causing energy levels to plummet. Sweet cravings signal low blood sugar. An apple with almond butter or a handful of almonds may be all that’s needed to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Five nutrients your body needs to sustain daily energy levels:
B vitamins: Your body needs carbohydrates, fats, and proteins from foods for energy. Often referred to as energy nutrients, all B-complex vitamins aid the natural processes your body uses to convert dietary carbohydrates and fats into fuel or glucose. Your body needs B vitamins to convert dietary energy into ATP, which transports chemical energy within the cells for metabolism.
Magnesium: Magnesium plays a critical role in cellular energy metabolism. In fact, all enzymes that utilize or synthesize ATP require magnesium. ATP, which provides the energy for most metabolic processes, exists primarily as a complex with magnesium.
Iron: Fatigue is the first symptom of iron deficiency, which the World Health Organization (WHO) defines as the number one nutritional disorder worldwide. Although low levels of iron can affect men and women of all ages, it often occurs in premenopausal women. Iron supplementation should only be taken under the advisement of a healthcare practitioner.
L-theanine: Believed to increase alertness and improve memory, L-theanine helps to boost energy levels, decrease stress and anxiety, and boost T cell production, which can be a low in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Omega-3 fatty acids: The body requires healthy fats for proper growth and development, as well as normal brain function. Deficiency in omega-3’s can result in low energy, memory issues, depression and a weakened immune system.
Above all, to support energy levels and fight tiredness, work towards getting regular adequate sleep, include energy boosting foods such as spinach, nuts, yogurt and fatty fish, avoid dehydration by drinking adequate amounts of water, and get twenty to thirty minutes of exercise daily.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support cellular energy production and overall health:
B Complex with Metafolin® by Douglas Laboratories: This comprehensive B vitamin complex provides all the essential B vitamins, as well as intrinsic factor, a nutrient necessary for optimal B 12 absorption. Gluten, soy, yeast, dairy, artificial ingredient free, Non-GMO formulation.
End Fatigue™ Daily Energy B Complex by Integrative Therapeutics®: This ultimate blend of B vitamins provides high level support for all day energy, and healthy blood, brain and nerve cell function. End Fatigue™ is especially helpful when under stress or to maintain mental alertness when fatigued. Gluten, soy, dairy, wheat, yeast and artificial ingredient free, vegan formulation.
Mag Complete by Complementary Prescriptions: This key formulation blends four forms of magnesium for optimal absorption and utilization in support of energy production and the maintenance of healthy nerve and muscle function.
L-Theanine 100 mg by Integrative Therapeutics®: This naturally calming amino acid helps to reduce stress and promote a restful, relaxed state without diminishing daytime alertness. L-theanine has no significant side effects. Gluten, dairy, wheat, yeast and artificial ingredient free, vegan formulation.
NeuroNutrients™ with Iron by Neurobiologix: This complete bioavailable vitamin and mineral formulation provides high quality, balanced proprietary nutrients to support cellular energy production, and good physical and neurological health.
Fatigue Definition. http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/fatigue/basics/definition/sym-20050894
Why Am I Tired All the Time? Fatigue vs. Sleepiness. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/why-am-i-tired-all-the-time/
Eating to Boost Energy. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/eating-to-boost-energy
Fatigue Causes Include Lack of 4 Specific Nutrients. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/fatigue-causes-include-lack-of-4-specific-nutrients/
Eating to Boost Energy. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/eating-to-boost-energy
Important to recognize the difference between tiredness and fatigue. http://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/01/31/21652.aspx
8 Energy Boosting Foods to Keep You Alert. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/energy-boosting-foods-to-keep-you-alert/