Why Am I Tired All The Time?
Ohhhh…yawn. If you didn’t get enough sleep last night and you’re tired, that’s understandable. But if you continually wake up feeling tired, not refreshed and you’re crashing in the afternoon, that’s something else. If you are battling chronic fatigue, it’s time to take a closer look at what might be causing it.
Join Dr. Irene M. Hutchins, a specialist in hematology and oncology, and Dr. Elber Camacho, medical director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, for a seminar on Wednesday, September 19 at the Stergios Building at the Desert Care Network Palm Springs campus. They will discuss common reasons people feel tired and how to improve your energy level.
Among the common reasons for tiredness include:
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Poor sleep hygiene
- Underlying medical conditions
Stress Management is Key to Health
Stress is a big reason people feel tired. It can contribute to emotional exhaustion and some people have a hard time shutting their mind off at night, which negatively affects their quality of sleep.
Establish An Evening Routine
You’re intimately familiar with your morning routine, but fewer people establish an evening routine. Is the last thing you see before going to bed the glow of your cell phone? What if you put it away at least an hour or two before bedtime? Dr. Hutchins will discuss the importance of establishing routines and good sleep hygiene. Simple things like having a digital curfew, starting to dim the house lights at a certain time, taking a bath, doing gentle stretching, reading before bedtime or setting out your clothing for the next day – these seemingly simple habits can help you unwind and cue your brain it’s time for sleep.
Go to Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time Each Day
It can be difficult, but the rewards are well worth it.
“Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time can help you maintain your circadian rhythm and wake up feeling more refreshed,” said Hutchins. Try it for a few weeks and see if just this doesn’t make a difference in your quality of sleep and daily energy.
It’s Not Just What You Eat – It’s When You Eat It
At the seminar, Drs. Hutchins and Camacho also will review recommendations for dietary modifications that may help improve energy.
“Many people eat foods that are high in refined carbohydrates close to bedtime,” said Hutchins. “But this can result in spikes in insulin and can interfere with quality sleep.” The same goes for alcohol. “People drink alcohol before bed and think it will help them sleep. While it does induce sleepiness initially, it can cause you to awake a few hours later. Our goal is not to take away these things, but encourage moderation and the best timing,” said Hutchins.
Caffeine: you knew this would be on the list. Minimizing intake of caffeine in the afternoon can help people fall asleep more easily and avoid the vicious cycle of using caffeine to stay awake.
Energy Drinks: Dr. Hutchins cautions people to beware of energy drinks. “Energy drinks contain high doses of caffeine and many herbal components that have not been studied well,” she said.
“There is evidence that melatonin can help some people experience better sleep,” said Hutchins. “But it’s important for people to talk with their doctor about all the supplements they are taking as not all dietary supplements are harmless and appropriate for every person.”
Medical conditions that cause tiredness
Among the most common medical conditions that cause tiredness include:
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid disorders
“Anemia is one of the most common medical causes of fatigue,” said Hutchins. “Anemia can cause symptoms similar to the usual tiredness, but with a few unique features. Someone who is anemic may feel short-winded or light-headed when exercising,” said Hutchins.
What causes anemia can be as simple as a vitamin deficiency, blood loss from menstruation, childbirth or it can be more complicated and a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition. Dr. Hutchins recommends that everyone have lab work done at least annually to get their blood counts checked among other things.
“Sometimes we are able to correct anemia quickly, especially if it’s caused by a vitamin deficiency,” said Hutchins. “People might feel better quickly with an iron or B12 booster. However, people may not realize that iron carries a risk of overload if taken by those who aren’t iron deficient. Taking iron supplements doesn’t help all kinds of anemia, only those caused by iron deficiency.”
Vitamin B12 is a different story. “With B12, there’s no toxicity in taking too much. There are many people who find it helps improve their energy,” she said.
Hutchins also explained that some people have trouble tolerating iron pills, which can lead to constipation or diarrhea.
“In our clinic, we can offer an IV iron preparation and other types of injections for more complex blood disorders. For people who are severely iron deficient, it would take too long with pills. We can provide a higher dose much more quickly intravenously.”
Desert Care Network’s Comprehensive Cancer Center offers the latest immunotherapies as well as chemotherapies and targeted therapies. “Some of the therapies come in the form of pills, some are IV medications and some are subcutaneous injections. We offer a wide variety of treatments that are targeted to each patient’s specific condition as well as their personal needs,” said Hutchins.
Whether you are just looking for some healthy lifestyle tips to boost your energy and improve your quality of sleep or you want to learn more about the possible medical causes of chronic fatigue and have the opportunity for a question and answer session, this promises to be an informative seminar.