Fighting Fatigue? Get a Better Life
Take Stock, Set Priorities, Take Care of Yourself
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
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
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.
When Should You Worry?
If fatigue has lasted more than a month -- and your lifestyle
is in fairly good shape -- then see a primary care doctor, advise both Mack and
- If blood sugars are chronically high, a sign of diabetes, you will feel
- Cancer will also make you feel rundown. That's good reason to get routine
screening mammograms and other screening tests.
- Fibromyalgia, lupus, and other autoimmune diseases also have fatigue as a
- Chronic fatigue syndrome is more than it may sound. "The term is really
misused. Many people think that if they're always tired, they have chronic
fatigue. People who truly have it are completely debilitated, they are up and
functioning only about two hours a day, just can't move otherwise -- severely