Do you ever feel like you are always tired and exhausted no matter how much you sleep?
If you do, you are suffering from fatigue.
Each year, approximately 1.5 million people visit their local doctor about fatigue. Fatigue is a symptom rather than a condition, which is generally caused by a combination of factors such as:
- Lifestyle – alcohol or drugs (examples such as caffeine or cigarettes), lack of regular exercise, poor diet, poor sleep hygiene.
- Medical – underlying illnesses such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease or diabetes.
- Workplace – day to day stress at work, shift work, burnout, long hours, underemployment or unemployment.
- Emotional – depression, anxiety or grief.
Fatigue can present with a vast array of other physical, mental and emotional symptoms other than chronic tiredness. Some of these other symptoms include headaches, impaired decision making and judgement, moodiness, impaired immune system, poor concentration and low motivation.
Since fatigue is a symptom of an underlying condition and can have a negative effect on your quality of life, it is very important to see your doctor to ascertain the cause. Your GP will diagnose the cause by reviewing your medical history and your lifestyle, and may conduct tests such as blood or urine tests to rule out any physical causes.
In the meantime, there are simple lifestyle changes that you can do to help manage or prevent fatigue, especially if your fatigue is related to lifestyle factors.
- Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
- Eat a diet full of lots of vegetables, fruits, protein and complex carbohydrates. Avoid simple sugars such as soft drinks or highly processed foods.
- Get enough sleep. Ensure you develop healthy sleep practises such as going to sleep at the same time each night, getting approximately 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, avoiding caffeine late in the afternoon or evening and not taking any electronic screen devices to bed.
After that, if you are still finding it hard to be motivated, concentrate or perform normal everyday activities, and you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise, the best advice is to make an appointment to see your local doctor.