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10 Reasons to Feel Tired All the Time

10 Reasons to Feel Tired All the Time

Everybody gets tired from time to time, but for some people, it’s a daily struggle. Some people are always tired, and this affects them physically, mentally and emotionally.

Work becomes difficult, sometimes impossible. Physical strength is lacking, and mental focus takes a dive. Instead of enjoying the challenge you just want to rest or procrastinate.

Not only is it a struggle to do things but your mood is impacted too. You may feel down and emotionally drained or “stressed out” and “tired but wired”.

As both energy and mood are affected, a chronically tired person will often skip social events or activities. What can you do when your just not up for it?

A person may feel life is passing them by. It’s frustrating for a person to see their potential wasted, knowing they are capable of so much more, if only there was more gas in the tank.

Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Hopes, dreams, aspirations and ambitions are robbed by constant daily fatigue.

Thankfully it is possible to regain your energy levels. Even if you have been stuck for years with chronically low energy levels it is possible to “reboot your system” and regain your energy levels.

There is hope! But how you go about doing this will all depend on what’s causing your fatigue in the first place.

The aim of this post is to help you identify what the root cause of your fatigue is. If you can figure out what’s causing it, you can begin to take steps towards improving your energy levels.

It may not be easy to fix low energy levels if you have been suffering a long time. In biochemistry there is a concept known as “metabolic reserve”.

When a system in your body is put under consistent pressure or stress, it becomes depleted. In order to rebuild robust energy levels, you need to replenish this metabolic reserve. 

This is an important concept to understand, as you can’t expect an overnight fix. Even when energy levels return, you still must keep making the right choices for a long time in order to build metabolic reserve.

Otherwise, you just put yourself back on square one whenever you go off course. Good health is something you build over time.

There isn’t really just one cause of fatigue. Therefore, it isn’t easy to diagnose and put a label on.

There isn’t usually a drug that can fix it.  

What it comes down to is nutritional and lifestyle support to improve your biochemistry and build your metabolic reserve.

But to do this, you need to know what’s going on. So here are 10 possible causes of why you may be feeling tired.

1. Blood Sugar Imbalance

1. Blood Sugar Imbalanceod Sugar Imbalanceally this affects everyone.

Low blood sugar means low energy levels. Ironically this is caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates like white flour and sugar.

These foods are rapidly absorbed, spiking your blood sugar levels.

Insulin is released to mop up the excess sugar and put it too use and that’s a good thing, but this then leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar and fatigue kicks in.

To get your blood sugar back up you crave simple carbs and so the cycle continues.

2. Stress

Stress is a natural part of life, but prolonged stress leads to burnout.  This is also very common in today’s world.

When I talk about stress, I don’t just mean long work hours and hectic work stress. 

Bad diet, illness, poor sleep, stimulants, emotional distress, trauma, over-exercising, lack of movement, environmental toxins, drugs, alcohol and social isolation all add to the burden of stress (2).

To recover from burnout, you need to reduce stress. As you can see this may mean more than taking a holiday. It means improving your whole lifestyle!

3. Stimulants

We are hooked on stimulants. They give is the boost of energy that we need improving motivation and focus.

These include caffeine, chocolate, sugar and certain herbs. 80% of us drink caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea (including green tea) and energy drinks.

The problem with stimulants is that they lead to burnout. This leads to a vicious cycle as you then need the stimulant to get you going again.

It’s fine to enjoy tea, coffee or other stimulants up to a point. And that point is when you start feeling tired all the time.

Withdrawal is tough but necessary, if you want to rebuild your metabolic reserve.

4. Insomnia

Everybody gets insomnia from time to time. Occasional bouts are normal. However, when it becomes constant a person’s metabolic reserve becomes depleted.

For some people, its not being able to get to sleep. For others, it’s waking up during the night and not being able to get back to sleep.

Sleep hygiene plays a part. Stimulants can keep you awake as can eating late at night. The blue light form screens and devices blocks melatonin, the sleep hormone.

Blood sugar can play a role too in waking during the night. If it becomes too low, then adrenaline kicks in to raise it and this can wake you up and keep you from getting back to sleep.

Insomnia leaves many people exhausted and tired all the time. Improving deep restful sleep is vital for good consistent every levels. Sleep builds metabolic reserve.

5. Dysbiosis

Your gut has billions of microbes living inside of it known as the microbiome. When in balance, these critters are beneficial, healing the gut and helping with detoxification.

But when out of balance, opportunistic microbes can take over, producing toxins which affect the nervous system.

This can be a major source of not only gastrointestinal problems but also fatigue, insomnia and other issues.

Rebalancing the microbiome will for some people resolve their fatigue.

6. Food Intolerances

This can be another trigger for fatigue.  Food intolerances set off inflammation in the gut which can lead to many varied symptoms.

The classic one is usually bloating and fatigue, so if you notice this happening to you, suspect that a certain food may be causing it.

Usually removing the offending food for some weeks or months is enough to improve the situation, but this depends on the overall health of the gut.  

7. Mitochondrial Dysfunction

This is quite serious. A person with Mitochondrial Dysfunction can suffer with debilitating fatigue.

Often, they can’t work because periods of physical or mental concentration completely exhausts them.

They often suffer from insomnia which compounds the problem.  They may experience painful cramping in the muscles, headaches, digestive issues, depression and anxiety.

Often the label Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is given and sometimes Myalgic Encephalitis, when inflammation is present.

The mitochondria are the power stations that exist within every cell of the body and it’s their job to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the currency of biological energy.

It’s a complex piece of biochemistry and if something goes wrong with it, there is a deficiency in cellular energy production.

The biochemical pathway which produces ATP
(known as the Kreb cycle) becomes blocked in places.

Often this is because of a serious infection (eg. Lyme disease, Chlamydia Epstein Barr, etc) at some point in the patient’s history or because of heavy metal toxicity.

Heavy metals (e.g lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic) bind to cellular receptors and DNA preventing them from working properly, blocking the biochemical pathways.

To recover from this debilitating condition not only must the offending cause be removed but a protocol of supplemental nutrients are needed to kick start the biochemical pathways into action.

8. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is chronic pain body-wide pain condition

Not to be confused with Chronic Fatigue as it often is on websites and sometimes in the literature!

The symptoms can be similar, but the cause is very different.

It is a condition of the nervous system which primeraly causes pain with secondary fatigue (Chronic Fatigue is the opposite).

Like Chronic Fatigue other symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, headaches and mood disorders

For decades this condition has been completely misunderstood and only recently has a clear picture emerged. A lot of misdiagnosis still goes on.

Fibromyalgia is caused by maladaptation of the nervous system to chronic stress or trauma. 

When pain is stimulated in the nervous system it should be switch off by the DANS pain-gate manager in the spinal cord.

In the case of Fibromyalgia this doesn’t happen, and pain stays switch on. This exhausts the nervous system leading to constant fatigue.

To recover from Fibromyalgia the patient must support dampening of the nervous system with appropriate diet, nutrients, herbs, lifestyle and stress reduction techniques.

Sometimes a person will claim they have been to a chiropractor and he fixed their Fibromyalgia, but such cases are muscular skeletal problems and not true Fibromyalgia.

9. Nutritional Deficiencies

This of course can be a major source of fatigue. B12 and Iron deficiencies are major culprits. They cause anaemia and are easy picked up with routine blood work.

But of course, biochemistry is complex and other nutritional deficiencies that are not rountinly checked for could be causing the problem.

Magnesium, B-vitamins and antioxidants such as Vitamin C, CoQ10 and Glutathione play a major role in energy production and a deficiency could be the cause of fatigue.

10. Low Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid gland is the bodies accelerator pedal. Thyroid hormones rev up the work done by the mitochondria.

A deficiency of thryroid hormone leads to fatigue, feeling cold, constipation, loss of hair and eyebrows, weight gain, and joint and muscle pain.

For some people, their thyroid gland is malfunctioning, and they are low on T4, the hormone produced in the thyroid gland.

A major cause of this is Hashimoto’s syndrome. This is an auto-immune condition where antibodies directed against the thyroid glad cause inflammation and destruction of the gland.

There may be a problem converting T4 to T3, the more active version of the thyroid hormone. 

If stress or inflammation levels are high, or there are blood sugar issues, then T4 may be converted in Reverse T3 which is inactive. This leads to a hormone deficiency.

Another issue is an excess of thyroid binding globulin, the protein responsible for transporting thyroid hormone around the body.  Only free thyroid hormone is active.

High oestrogen levels can cause an excess of thyroid binding globulin, tying up available thyroid hormone.

Knowing the actual cause of thyroid hormone deficiency is key to recovery.

Synthetic T4 is usually prescribed but the patient should also look for nutritional and lifestyle counselling to deal with the root cause of the issue.

Conclusion

As you can see, the different reasons for having low energy and feeling tired all the time are quite different from each other and thus need a different approach to resolve them.

This list is by no means complete. There are many possible reasons why a person may be feeling constantly tired, e.g an infection, an auto-immune condition, chronic dehydration, a lack of activity, the list goes on.

It’s often not easy to recover from constant fatigue but except in a few rare cases, it is completely possible. It just takes an understanding of the root cause of the issues and a protocol to remedy it.

It can often take weeks or months to fully recover from long term fatigue but the results in terms of well-being, quality of life and productivity are well worth it.

Knowing the root cause, you can begin the research needed and take steps towards your own recovery.

I appreciate this may seem to some quite daunting. If this is something you would like to discuss further with me feel free to get in contact.

I’m always happy to talk about how life can improve.

Your health is in your hands!

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Ciaran Ryan

Nutritional Therapist at International Clinic of Nutrition
Dedicated to the pursuit of natural and lifestyle medicine, Ciaran is a qualified Nutritional Therapist. When not being a nerd about health and biochemistry Ciaran likes to go dancing and enjoys watching Japanese cartoons (a little too much).
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Ciaran Ryan

1 month ago

Nice Article.

Helping you to overcome; Chronic Fatigue, Burnout, Insomnia, Digestive Issues and IBS

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