Unfortunately, fatigue is all too common these days. The National Institutes of Health reports that approximately one in every five Americans suffers from fatigue that is severe enough to interfere with daily life.
Are you that one in five? Then keep reading to find out how to treat fatigue, what you can do to reclaim your vital, energized self.
What Are the Causes of Fatigue?
If you’ve been experiencing long-term fatigue, the first thing you need to do is work with your physician to determine if the culprit is an underlying health condition—something I refer to as an “organic cause.”
Some of the top causes of fatigue include:
- Heart disease
- Digestive system conditions
- Liver or kidney dysfunction
- Sleep apnea
- Adrenal exhaustion
- Long-term microbial infections
And these are just a few on a very long list of the medical conditions that have fatigue as a major symptom, so the investigative work you do with your doctor needs to be thorough.
How to Treat Fatigue
If you have no organic causes of fatigue, it’s time to consider other factors--lifestyle factors, to be specific.
It’s no wonder that so many people feel wiped out in this day and age. We live in a culture where jam-packed schedules, multi-tasking, and constant digital connectedness are the norm. In our busy lives, our minds become so focused on getting things done that we often lose sight of taking care of our bodies.
Physically and mentally, we are exhausting ourselves. And one of the ways this exhaustion manifests itself is through fatigue.
Now more than ever, it’s critically important for you to listen to your body. When your body experiences chronic fatigue, it’s telling you to make some important changes.
6 Ways to Get Your Energy Back
1. Stay Hydrated.
Given the fact that water makes up approximately 50% of our bodies, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important to stay hydrated. Yet, according to medical research, almost 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Dehydration can affect your mental and physical health. In fact, recent research found that young people who were mildly dehydrated were much more likely to feel fatigued, both during moderate exercise and while sedentary. Researchers also found that dehydration is the top cause of midday fatigue. ,
The good news is that drinking more water may be the simplest way to help relieve your fatigue. Over and over again, I’ve seen patients’ energy levels improve simply by increasing water intake.
To treat fatigue, you should drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of water daily. If you tend to feel tired in the mornings and late afternoon, drink a glass of water right when you wake up and before you feel the afternoon crash coming on. You will be amazed at how fast water can fuel your body and mind.
2. Eat a Healthful Diet.
Unfortunately, in our hectic, over-scheduled lives, we often opt for over processed convenience foods rather than healthy food choices that actually fuel our bodies and stoke our energy levels.
The diet I suggest for patients and others who want to feel more energized, lose weight, and regain their vitality is called the “Modified Paleo Diet.”
This style of eating is based on the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet—what our ancestors ate before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago—but it’s less restrictive, so it’s easier to stick with over the long haul. This diet emphasizes whole foods, including vegetables, pasture raised and grass fed meats, fish, eggs, fruits, and nuts. It’s deliciously healthful nutrition and a powerful way to treat fatigue.
3. Get Sufficient Exercise.
Exercise has been shown to increase blood flow throughout the body, help modulate metabolism, improve mood, and even supercharge mitochondria, which are your cellular engines. All of these benefits can help to treat fatigue.
What I’ve found to be very important for exercise success, both personally and with my patients, is committing to a specific exercise schedule. Blocking out time—even if it’s two days a week for 30 minutes—will help you stick to your exercise commitment.
Working out with a friend is another great exercise tip. Knowing that someone else is counting on you makes it easier to get going with your exercise and the companionship makes the time you spend exercising more enjoyable.
4. Recharge with Restful Sleep.
Sleep is the time when our bodies do the hard work of detoxifying, restoring and rejuvenating. And without 7-9 hours of deep, restful sleep each night, you’re not only inviting fatigue the next day but also short-changing your overall health.
Researchers once thought that lack of sleep primarily affected cognitive health—with symptoms of tiredness, inattentiveness, and poor cognition. But more recently, studies have revealed that chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even early death!
That’s right. Getting your ZZZ’s is something to take seriously. And to do that, you should focus on improving your sleep hygiene. A few simple steps can go a long way toward successful sleep habits:
- Avoid heavy meals, alcohol and caffeine after 7:30 p.m. These can cause indigestion and an insulin response, which can keep you up at night.
- Go to bed at the same time each night—preferably before 10:00 p.m. And stay away from screen time, including phone, laptop or television, before turning in. I especially advocate staying away from news or sports programs before bed because they can fill you with stress and disrupt your sleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark. This environment is best for proper production of melatonin—your primary sleep hormone—as well as for keeping your nasal passages moist for optimal nighttime breathing.
- Repeat a simple wind-down routine each night to ease you into sleep. Meditation, prayer or restful music are all helpful tools for this.
5. Mitigate Your Stress.
We can’t talk about how to treat fatigue without addressing stress. While it’s unrealistic to suggest that you can simply eliminate stress from your life, you can try techniques to improve your body’s response to stress.
For instance, try five minutes of belly breathing every morning, listen to relaxing music on your way to work, play your favorite musical instrument, or walk in the neighborhood with your spouse or pet.
My favorite de-stressor is meditation. I’ve found that on the mornings that I ground myself with meditation, the days that follow seem to be less stressful. And when I’m under less stress, my energy level is noticeably higher. Maybe mediation can work the same magic for you.
6. Take Targeted Nutritional Supplements.
I learned from my father, Dr. Stephen Sinatra, about the importance of healthy mitochondrial function—not only for cardiovascular patients, but also for how to treat fatigue.
Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses in your cells that produce a cellular fuel molecule called ATP. Specific nutritional supplements, including CoQ10, magnesium, L-carnitine, and D-ribose, support the production of ATP.
In my practice, I’ve seen patients make incredible energy improvements when using these powerful, natural supplements…even in difficult cases of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Ganio, M. S., Armstrong, L. E., Et. Al (2011). Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. British journal of Nutrition, 106(10), 1535-1543.
Armstrong, L. E., Et. Al (2012). Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(2), 382-388.