4 healthy habits to help fatigue

Are you always tired? Adrenal fatigue, muscle ache and even ‘social jet lag’ are some of the most surprising reasons you may be feeling fatigued. Transform yourself from exhausted to exhilarated!

Many of us feel tired, but if your doctor rules out underlying medical conditions, it can be frustrating trying to work out the root cause and how to fix it. Lack of sleep and stress are obvious fatigue triggers, but did you know that even a somewhat trivial habit could leave you feeling exhausted? We speak to the experts to discover the latest.

Healthy habit 1: Get the ‘right’ kind of sleep
The first thing anyone feeling tired should look at is his or her quality of sleep, explains Professor Mary Carskadon, a sleep researcher from Brown University. According to Professor Carskadon, Western society has forgotten the importance of sleep. During the day, our brain accumulates sleep-inducing matter that adds ‘pressure’ to help us sleep at night, she explains. This is a sleep mechanism, known as sleep homeostatis. Trying to stay awake to check social media or taking a nap during the day, for example, creates a pressure relieve valve, making it much harder to get a good night’s rest. She adds, “We convince ourselves that we’re not tired then pay the piper the next day.”

Fix it tip: Get technology out of the bedroom. Declare a tv, computer, and iPad free bedroom. Avoid napping after 4pm and avoid caffeine 6 to 8 hours before sleep.

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You need to get the right amount of sleep and to maintain a regular routine for your body

Healthy habit 2: Avoid ‘social jetlag’
If you’re getting 7 to 8 hours of shut eye but still end up feeling really tired, you could be suffering from ‘social jetlag’, explains Professor Carskadon. That’s because even with the right amount of sleep, our bodies need consistent light and dark schedules otherwise our circadian rhythm will be off. “People will not sleep much during the week, when they have work, and on the weekend they’ll get more sleep but usually sleep and wake up at later times,” Professor Carskadon adds. Just like jetlag, if you aren’t sleeping and waking up at consistent times it’s as though your body is trying to function in another time zone. This can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable and fatigued.

Fix it tip: Keep a regular sleep routine, even on weekends and during holidays. Wake up with the sunlight. If you’re a shift worker, turn the lights up so that your body recognises this as a light schedule.

Healthy habit 3: Address adrenal fatigue
Your sleep quality can be affected from your adrenal hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, without you even realising it. “There’s this perfectionism a lot of women feel. We keep going, we’re multi-taskers and we’re in this constant state of panic. But we’re meant to be feel tired,” says naturopath and nutritionist, Janella Purcell. She’s one of an increasing group of integrated health practitioners who believe that stress is leading to sleep disturbances and subsequent fatigue. This stress can also affect how your body absorbs food, according to Purcell. “When you’re in ‘fight or flight’, your stomach shuts down. You’re not getting any nutrition from your food when you’re anxious,” she adds.

Fix it tip: Address the adrenalin exhaustion first. Try to relax and don’t try to do too much before bedtime. Stick to a whole food diet and low GI foods as much as possible. Snack on nutrient dense foods such as nuts and seeds. Speak to your health professional for advice and ask if tests are appropriate. An integrative doctor can also check your cortisol and adrenalin levels to make a tailored recommendation.

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Always consult a health professional if you are continually experiencing aches and pains

Healthy habit 4: Listen to general aches and pains
“If someone has muscle spasms, this in itself can be quite draining,” says chiropractor, Martina Hambly. “I also find that if someone is not comfortable they’re not sleeping so well.” Research has found that people experiencing common musculoskeletal problems, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, report poorer quality of sleep. Left untreated, this can lead to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and chronic pain. Without a good night’s rest, the pain worsens; and the constant worrying about the pain during the day keeps you up at night. “If someone’s stressed or upset about things, they may feel like they have no energy,” adds Hambly. Overall, she agrees that fatigue is a complicated issue and everyone is different. “Especially when it comes to fatigue, there is no silver bullet.” Her advice is to speak to a health practitioner first to determine what’s right for you.

Fix it tip: Speak to your GP first and then consider consulting a chiropractor or acupuncturist. They can help you get to the bottom of your chronic pain and fatigue and work out the best approach.

Have you suffered from severe fatigue? What things did you try, and did they work?