There are few things more frustrating than feeling tired all the time. Fatigue can be a trial both physically and mentally, and battling it can drain the best of us. Having the need and desire to be busy and productive is a natural part of the human condition. When the energy that is necessary to accomplish this is absent, we feel broken and incomplete. While fatigue can sometimes point to one of many health concerns, the good news is that in most cases, we have the power to regain our vim and vigor by making a few lifestyle adjustments. Let’s dig deep and explore the frequent causes of fatigue and some natural solutions that can restore our energy and enthusiasm.
What is Fatigue?
A good definition of fatigue might be as follows: “Acute or chronic physical and/or mental exhaustion that can be caused by any number of factors, including stress, poor lifestyle choices, illness, or medications.”
We all experience fatigue to some degree or another. In fact, a certain amount of fatigue is a good thing. Ever hear the saying: “It’s a good kind of tired…”? When we have put in a long day, fatigue helps us know that it is time to get rest and sleep, and in fact, it enables us to sleep well.
But harmful fatigue is more than just sleepiness. It is characterized by a seemingly unending lack of energy that is not relieved by a night’s sleep or a day off from the daily grind. Mental and emotional fatigue can also be debilitating. It can lead to poor concentration, inability to make quality decisions, and even memory loss in some cases.
Complaints of fatigue are probably one of the top reasons for most doctors’ visits. Unfortunately, it seems to be a normal part of life for many in these hectic times we live in. Who has time to get enough sleep and eat right in the rat race most of us are involved in daily? Bills to pay, obligations to meet, and unrealistic expectations about how our life should be are just a few causes of fatigue. Something has to give, and typically, it is our health that we sacrifice. When this occurs, fatigue is almost inevitable.
What Are the Frequent Causes of Fatigue and Natural Solutions
The vast majority of fatigue can be traced to lifestyle choices that we can change if we make them a priority. Let’s take a look at the most frequent causes of fatigue.
Not getting enough quality sleep is an epidemic in America today. It ranks high in the frequent causes of fatigue.
We live in a 24-hour society that never shuts down. Just a few generations ago, most people lived in rural settings and sometimes literally “went to bed with the chickens, and got up with the chickens.” The workday was dawn to dusk, and without electric lights, bedtime was shortly after dark.
Currently, we have nonstop entertainment and numerous choices of activities that can keep us up far too late into the night. As a result, many people are lucky to consistently get a good 6 hours of sleep every night. In addition, our forefathers engaged mostly in physical labor rather than sitting behind a desk all day, as many of us do. Thus, they were tired and able to sleep well when evening came.
Chronic lack of sleep leads to ongoing fatigue, and it becomes a vicious cycle that can be hard to break. However, many of us would make the necessary sacrifices to get to bed early enough if we could experience what it feels like to go through a day without being plagued by fatigue.
Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or narcolepsy can all manifest fatigue as a symptom. Therefore, it is worth your time to ask your doctor to prescribe a sleep study to make a good diagnosis.
Natural Solutions: Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night–including weekends. Be in bed at the same time every night, and set your alarm clock to wake you up at the same time each morning. This helps your circadian rhythm stay on schedule. In addition, your mattress should be comfortable, the room should be dark and cool, and your cell phone, digital devices, and television should be off.
Lack of Physical Exercise
Back in the day, most people got enough physical activity to make them naturally tired by the end of the day. However, in modern times, we must schedule exercise into our busy days. It is necessary for several reasons. First, it enables us to sleep well at night and avoid fatigue that way. Secondly, physical activity is a great way to deal with the stressors in our lives that keep us from feeling rested and refreshed.
Natural Solutions: If you are looking for a safe and effective exercise that will benefit your entire body, the many health benefits of rebounding will amaze you. One of the most important benefits of rebounding every day is that of lymphatic drainage. Other health benefits of rebounding include: easy on your joints, provides exercise that affects every part of the body, is easy to do with minimal cost. Best of all – it’s fun, energizing, and can help tremendously in alleviating stress. Speaking of stress…
Stress, both physical and mental, can rob you of the ability to rest, relax, and get quality sleep as well. Stress is a fact of life, but it opens the door to fatigue and other health issues when it is not dealt with proactively. Taking care of yourself by making sure you learn to combat stress can go a long way towards eliminating the frequent causes of fatigue in your life.
Natural Solutions: One suggestion for dealing with stress that is very effective for many people is the art of deep breathing. This can be done as a planned part of the daily routine or on an as-needed basis as things come up during the day. The best technique is to lie flat on your back, preferably on a hard surface such as the floor. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. It is amazing what even 10 minutes of this can do as far as battling stress and ultimately fatigue. If a stressful situation arises unexpectedly, learn to deep breathe for a minute or so without interrupting whatever you are doing. Many people swear by this, and it has made a wonderful difference in the quality of their lives.
Changing the way you eat is a huge step towards addressing the frequent causes of fatigue. If you are feasting daily on sugar-laden drinks and desserts, it won’t be long until you begin to experience fatigue. While sugar can cause an “energy boost,” it’s always temporary. The “let-down” will not only make you crave more sugar, but it will also make you fatigued.
Natural Solutions: A healthy and balanced plant-based diet consisting mostly of healthy fats, organic vegetables, fruits, and whole grains not only gives your body the proper fuel it needs but also provides vitamins, enzymes, and minerals that can help to keep your body free of disease. Most people that go on a diet of this type experience less fatigue and a boost in energy.
When your liver is unable to rid the body of excess fat and other waste products, you will likely feel sluggish and fatigued most of the time.
Your liver is actively involved in keeping your body free from diseases of all types. However, it is also true that a poorly operating liver can contribute to many illnesses and debilitating health conditions. There are many liver diseases and dysfunction types, but the most common and hazardous is called fatty liver (R).
Natural Solutions: Liver supporting organic/wild-crafted herbs such as Milk Thistle seed, Wildcrafted Chanca Piedra (helps with liver stones), Fringetree bark, Dandelion root, Organic Nettles root, and Organic Turmeric Root. There are several reasons to use the milk thistle seed rather than silymarin extract. First, using the whole herb is recommended as often it will have a more balanced effect. Second, the milk thistle extract silymarin, for instance, has proven useful in treating liver disease. However, the main drawback to using silymarin is that if a healthcare professional prescribes other drugs, such as steroids, silymarin can interfere with the liver’s ability to detoxify them. Milk thistle seed has the same healing effect on the liver without interfering with the organ’s ability to detoxify drugs or environmental chemicals. It also has a side benefit of normalizing blood lipids as the liver heals (R).
The health benefits of clean water are innumerable. One of the most important is that purified water increases the volume of your blood, which, in turn, can help to avoid fatigue.
Did you know that every cell in your body is bathed in water? Water makes up nearly 85 percent of our brain, about 80 percent of our blood, and about 70 percent of lean muscle. Water accounts for about 60% of a man’s body weight and represents about 50% of a woman’s weight. However, water deficiency can quickly lead to dehydration, which occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry on normal functions. Chronic dehydration has been called “the hidden epidemic,” and an estimated 75% of all North Americans are chronically dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can zap your energy, make you tired, and affect mental clarity. Be aware that water loss of 9-12% of total body weight can be fatal. Dehydration is a major cause of infant illness and death throughout the world and hospitalization for the elderly. So, in a nutshell, dehydration creates some genuine health risks.
Natural Solutions: Drinking half of your body weight in ounces of purified water is a valuable target for most people. So make sure to “drink up” every day!
Consumption of High-Fat Foods
Fatty foods take longer to digest than low-fat foods, so they remain longer in the stomach. This causes blood flow to increase to the abdominal area and thus be decreased to the brain and other organs. This can contribute to fatigue.
Natural Solutions: Good fats such as avocado, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, organic grass-fed butter, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds. Most people don’t realize that it’s the good fats that act as carriers for those all-important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Healthy fats are also needed for mineral absorption, which is very important for good health and a host of other biological processes.
Overeating makes you drowsy, and in addition, it can lead to being overweight. Carrying around extra pounds is a major factor in fatigue.
Natural Solutions: Simply losing weight can improve energy levels significantly for many people. I suggest researching Food Combining.
Low Iron Levels
Iron aids in the oxygenation of the blood, and this can be a great weapon against fatigue. Iron deficiency anemia is one of the frequent causes of fatigue in women. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, and iron is the main component of these cells. When you don’t have adequate iron, it may deprive your body of the oxygen it needs for energy, causing you to be fatigued. Women who experience heavy menstrual periods or are pregnant may be at higher risk for iron-deficiency anemia.
Natural Solutions: If you are anemic due to iron deficiency, you may be able to replenish your body’s iron through diet. Suggested iron-rich foods include meats, beans, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, nuts, apricots, and brown rice. Talk to your doctor if you think you need iron supplements to determine the proper dosage. A plant-based iron supplement is best.
High-caffeine drinks such as coffee and sodas may give you a temporary energy boost, but they will lead to ongoing fatigue in the long run. After the effects of the caffeine have worn off, your energy level will crash, and you will feel fatigued. Some people respond to this by taking in more caffeine, but this only leads to a vicious cycle that encourages daily fatigue. In addition, caffeine can exacerbate the fatigue issue further by interfering with quality sleep.
Natural Solutions: Ditch the sodas; there’s really nothing good about them. It’s a good idea to change over to the more clean and organic coffees. Some companies have decaffeinated choices that are non-toxic. While organic coffees have caffeine, some brands seem not to cause issues, as do non-organic brands.
Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications
In addition to lifestyle choices, many medications can contribute to frequent causes of fatigue. Some of the most common culprits are blood pressure medications, antihistamines, anti-depressants, and certain antibiotics.
Natural Solutions: Therefore, you may want to consider switching to another medication or a more natural alternative to alleviate any fatigue caused by taking these drugs.
Low blood pressure often results in poor circulation, which can manifest fatigue.
Natural Solutions: The best way to avoid hypotension is to deal with the underlying condition that’s causing it. For example, if you have low blood sugar, try eating small meals six times per day. Never go without good, wholesome food long enough to allow your blood sugar to drop too low. Dealing with hypotension is much different than hypertension. Many causes of hypotension are beyond your control, unlike hypertension which can be managed more aggressively.
However, if you effectively deal with your low blood sugar, glandular concerns, dehydration, or whatever the root cause of the hypotension may be, it can indirectly be the best way to treat hypotension (R).
The causes of anemia are several. If insufficient iron levels in the blood cause anemia, fatigue is a widespread side effect. In fact, fatigue is the hallmark symptom of anemia.
Natural Solutions: Dietary changes can remedy this. There are plenty of high-quality sources of non-heme foods and quality non-heme iron supplements.
Many with depression have very low energy levels and feel like they are “carrying a piano on their backs.” They are not refreshed by sleep and may feel continuously burned out, physically and mentally. Some will even move and speak more slowly than normal and tend to talk in monotones.
Clinical depression and/or grief can wear a person out emotionally and lead to fatigue. It also causes sadness, anxiety, and physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, aches, and pains. In addition, the medications that are often prescribed will often make you drowsy and contribute to fatigue as well.
Natural Solutions: If you or someone you care about is depressed, seek medical counseling. Depression may not resolve without treatment, and there are many treatments, including natural medicine, that can help with symptom relief. I suggest reading Depression – What You Need to Know.
The most reported symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) include pain or burning during urination and/or the feeling of needing to urinate frequently. However, UTIs can also cause fatigue and weakness.
Natural Solutions: If you suspect you have a UTI, contact your doctor. The usual treatment for a UTI is antibiotics, which should cure the condition rapidly, alleviating the fatigue and the other symptoms. There are also some natural treatment tips for preventing and treating UTI naturally, of which you should be aware.
When the body battles debilitating diseases such as cancer, fatigue is inevitable– either from the disease itself or the recommended treatment.
Conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, bone marrow transplantation, and immunotherapy can cause fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue is also a common symptom of some types of cancer (R).
Natural Solutions: Try to find a Naturopath or a Natural Medicine Practitioner to help with the fatigue that goes with cancer treatment.
Kidney disease, especially in the end stages, is often characterized by extreme fatigue. A severe decrease in kidney function can lead to a buildup of toxins and impurities in the blood. This can cause people to feel tired, weak and can make it difficult to concentrate. Another complication of kidney disease is anemia, which can cause weakness and fatigue (R).
Natural Solutions: Speak with a Naturopath or Natural Medicine Practitioner for natural remedies.
Excessive fatigue is often a side effect of diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are too low, fatigue will most likely be present.
Natural Solutions: If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to understand how to manage your disease. Your doctor will often recommend lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. You may also be prescribed insulin or other diabetes medications to help you control your blood sugar levels. There are also natural treatments for diabetes that you should know about.
If you find yourself overly fatigued from everyday activities such as shopping, cleaning, or climbing stairs, it’s time for an evaluation from your healthcare practitioner. When your heart is less able to pump blood to all parts of your body, it conserves resources by diverting blood from the limbs instead of sending it to the vital organs. This can cause fatigue which is often included in signs of cardiovascular disease.
Natural Solutions: Cardiac disease is a serious health condition that requires diagnosis and treatment–be sure to speak with a knowledgeable health care practitioner. Many lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy, and natural medicine treatments can help you control heart disease and get you back to doing what you love.
Both an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can result in fatigue.
The thyroid is a gland that regulates the metabolism, or how fast the body converts fuel into energy for your body’s functions. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) causes fatigue, depression, and weight gain.
For those with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), the body’s metabolism speeds up. This overactivity can cause fatigue as well as sleeping concerns.
Natural Solutions: Blood tests can confirm if you have hypothyroidism. The good news is that the condition usually responds well to replacement thyroid hormones. I would also suggest looking into nascent iodine.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
The symptoms of this syndrome (inability to keep the legs still and/or pain in the extremities) are most often experienced at night. Therefore, they will often contribute to insomnia and the resulting fatigue associated with it.
Natural Solutions: Natural recommendations for restless legs syndrome include implementing consistent bedtime and leg stretches before bed. Caffeine is a known restless leg syndrome trigger, so it’s best to cut it out of your daily routine. Be sure to watch for hidden caffeine in foods and drinks. Try taking a stress-relief bath or shower. Warmth relaxes muscles and helps prevent spasms and twitching. Apply either heat or cold to your legs — some people like hot, and some prefer cold—experience with both to see which works for your situation. Mild to moderate exercise scheduled in the morning or afternoon leads to fewer restless leg syndrome episodes.
Deep, diaphragmatic mindful breathing is also a good choice. Mindfulness meditation is easy to learn and promotes reduced stress and lower levels of inflammation. Just about any meditation which causes relaxation will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls homeostasis (from the Greek words for “same” and “steady,” refers to any process that living things use to actively maintain fairly stable conditions necessary for survival) and manages the “rest and digest” response. Even practicing meditation for a small amount of time every day can reap big benefits — benefits that tend to be cumulative.
Also, check for anemia as those with anemia often have restless legs syndrome. Some medications can cause restless legs syndrome — check with your doctor or pharmacist. A good magnesium-calcium supplement can help RLS. I suggest IntraCal, which contains the proper ratio of calcium orotate to magnesium rotate. And last, some people find that a weighted blanket provides a constant but gentle counterstimulation to override the feeling of restless legs.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
As the name indicates, one of the primary symptoms of CFS is ongoing fatigue (continuous for six months or more) that cannot be attributed to other sources. Other clues that can point to a CFS diagnosis are flu-like symptoms, muscle weakness and pain, and other neurological manifestations. CFS is difficult to diagnose, but even considering that, there are up to 2 million known cases in the United States. It is much more common in women than in men.
Natural Solutions: As a chronic condition, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for CHS. However, lifestyle changes can often help ease some of the frequent causes of fatigue which include good sleep habits (limit caffeine, keep your bedroom dark and quiet), relaxation techniques (meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, etc.), light exercise, pacing yourself, and eating a balanced and healthy plant-based diet.
Other illnesses and diseases that can cause fatigue include Addison’s Disease, Allergies, Congestive Heart Failure, Lupus, Tuberculosis, Mononucleosis, and AIDS.
And More About Frequent Causes of Fatigue
Fatigue is a debilitating health condition that can very negatively affect the quality of your life. It can also wear you down and make you susceptible to other illnesses. Lack of energy robs you of the ability to live a full and rewarding life. If you struggle with fatigue, the first thing I recommend is that you take a good hard look at your diet and lifestyle habits. You can remedy most fatigue by making changes in this arena, and you will also be rewarded with many other health benefits to boot.
Finally, some fatigue is an indicator of many possible illnesses or disorders. Therefore, if you have tried correcting fatigue by implementing lifestyle changes or eliminating suspect medications and your fatigue has not lessened, you may want to consider getting a thorough physical by a knowledgeable health care provider of choice to eliminate the possibility of a disease condition.
Be wise and proactive when it comes to your health. Prevention is always the easiest way to keep your body healthy. However, knowing what may or may not be going on goes a long way in eliminating fear and stress, leading to fatigue. Once you have a diagnosis, I suggest finding a natural medicine practitioner or a naturopath to teach you how to support your body’s natural healing mechanisms.