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Fighting Fatigue? Get a Better Life

Take Stock, Set Priorities, Take Care of Yourself

Exercise -- It's Soul-Satisfying

Exercise is a great stress-relief aide -- even if you're too tired for it, says Mack. "If you're feeling overwhelmed, tired for whatever reason, exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing. But moderate amounts of exercise can actually help your mood. You will have more energy and require less sleep. Exercise will make you more tired at night, and you will fall into a deeper sleep, get better rest."

Despite your busy life, push yourself to do this one extra thing, Mack says. "You just have to get yourself going. It does make a difference. It's worthwhile adding on that one extra thing. It can make a big difference -- not just in fatigue, but in your overall outlook, and can act as a very good stress reliever."

Get Plenty of Protein

Even if you're trying to eat right, you may be doing it wrong. "Diet is important," says Horesh. Fruits and vegetables fill you up with fewer calories. But they won't give you the long-lasting energy that you get from proteins and complex, starchy carbohydrates like whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, and beans.

"A diet that is very heavy in sugars -- too many sweets, junk food, cookies -- is going to give you surges in energy," she says. "But you're also going to have a sudden drop in energy.

"For energy, you need a diet that is better balanced -- higher in protein, higher in complex carbohydrates, but low in sugars and, of course, fats," she tells WebMD.

Log Those Zzzs

Yawn, it's the old saw: "If you're not getting enough sleep, nothing else will work," says Mack. "You can't ask your body to work on three to four hours a night and not have some physical complaint. Your body can just take so much."

You absolutely need those seven to eight hours of Z's every night, she tells WebMD. "And it needs to be good rest. You need to feel better when you wake up," she says.

Many people suffer from sleep apnea and don't realize it, says Horesh. "If you snore, if you have ever woken up gasping for air, if you wake up feeling not well rested, if you're so tired you fall asleep behind the steering wheel -- those are all signs that your airway is getting blocked during sleep. You're not getting full REM sleep that you need to feel rested. Unfortunately, people take it as normal. They say, 'I'm a bad sleeper.'"

For the rest of us, caffeine can be a big problem. It's easy to sip eight or nine cups of coffee through the day -- just to get the buzz you once got on two or three cups. If there's also Mountain Dew or tea at night, you're likely to have trouble sleeping, says Mack.

"Drinking two or three cups a day is OK," she tells WebMD. "But very large amounts from multiple sources -- tea, iced tea, soft drinks -- all that counts as caffeine. Drink too much, and you get into trouble."

Good "sleep hygiene" is essential: That means going to bed and waking up at the same time, not drinking a lot of caffeine or alcohol (it also disturbs sleep). Also, don't use the bed for much more than sleep. No eating, watching TV, or reading in bed.

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How much sleep do you get most nights?