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Women's Health

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Fight Fatigue With Short Energy Breaks

Too pooped to pop? Avoid energy drains and use the tips to put the spring back in your step.
WebMD Health News

March 18, 2004 -- Does even sleeping make you tired? You're not alone. In fact, the CDC says we are far more exhausted than previously thought -- 2.2 million people from all ages and education levels suffer from marked fatigue lasting more than six months.

Being drained is no longer the trendy domain of overstressed yuppies -- fatigue is affecting everyone, rich and poor, educated and non-educated, and collars of all colors. And it takes a toll on us emotionally and physically.

"This is an epidemic of exhaustion spreading through our country," says internist Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, a clinician who himself suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome in the 1970s, inspiring him to study the disorder ever since. Teitelbaum also authored From Fatigued to Fantastic.

Why We Are Dragging

"We need to feed the body, use the body, rest the body," Teitelbaum tells WebMD. "The reason we are so tired begins with the Standard American Diet, which features 150 pounds of sugar a year, white flour, and almost no fiber. It's dreadful! This is the first time in the history of the world that we have high-calorie malnutrition. We don't even know which vitamins to take."

If you don't get enough sleep, eight to nine hours a night, Teitelbaum says, you will be in pain, gain weight, and look older. "When we are asleep, this is the time we make the human growth hormone everyone is talking about," he says. "Sleep, sex, and exercise contribute to that. We need those."

Another factor leading to exhaustion, says Jon Gordon, MA, author of Become an Energy Addict: Simple, Powerful Ways to Energize Your Life, is the fairly recent phenomenon of free-floating fear in the country. Gordon was so negative and grumpy, his wife almost left him. "We are too high on the fear scale," he tells WebMD. "We are running on adrenaline, which is supposed to be for a short-term, fight-or-flight reaction. This is taxing our adrenal glands."

Another energy sapper is the things we tell ourselves, Gordon says. "I am so busy." "I don't have enough time."

Scattering focus also drains energy, Gordon says. "If you finish what you are doing, you will have more energy."

All of these conditions result, they both say, from not taking proper care of ourselves.

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