All guys feel their energy fizzle once in a while. Maybe you stayed up late to watch the game. Or you pulled an all-nighter at work. Or woke up every couple of hours with a newborn. It's normal to be tired after something like that.
But if you lean on the coffee or soda every day to rev your engine and still feel wiped out, it’s time to troubleshoot.
What Are the Symptoms of Fatigue?
Frequent fatigue is more than just being tired. It’s a constant run-down feeling that steals your strength and causes a mental fog.
- Slow or sluggish
- Constantly tired
- Weak all over
- Like everything is an effort, or harder to do
How Can You Stay Powered Up?
It depends on what's causing your fatigue. Sometimes you might need medical treatment. But start with these lifestyle changes and see if they help.
Toss the technology at bedtime. Cell phones, tablets, and other gadgets that keep you plugged into the world mess with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
Boosters can be busters. The caffeine in coffee and energy drinks gives you a short-term jolt, but you might crash when the buzz wears off. Also, switch to decaf in the afternoon and evening. That way you won't spend the night counting sheep.
Skip the vending machine. Junk food is full of "empty" calories. You might feel jazzed for a few minutes, but sugary treats set you up for a nosedive. Pick smart snacks like whole-grain pretzels or tortilla chips, a handful of unsalted nuts, apple or celery slices with peanut butter, or whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese.
Get frisky. Exercise, including sex, fights disease, boosts your mood, keeps your mind sharp, and so much more. Some men have trouble getting in the mood due to dips in testosterone or other health problems.
If that’s you, do another hobby you enjoy. The idea is to get your blood pumping. Adults need about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week -- that’s 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can do it just 10 minutes at a time. Little things can make a big difference in your energy level.
What’s to Blame?
One way to get your energy back up is to find out what’s draining it. Here are a few common causes.
Lack of exercise. It’s simple: Move more, and you get more energy. Sit more, and the opposite happens. If you take it too easy too often, you’re more likely to get long-term health problems that cause fatigue.
Too little sleep. Men under 65 need 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night. You can get by with less as you get older.
Depression and stress. If you’re upset, sad, or worried, that can drain your mind and spirit.
Could It Be More Serious?
Talk to your doctor if you can’t tie your fatigue to one of the culprits above, or if it lasts for more than 2 weeks. Your doc may need to dig deeper to find the cause. One of these could be to blame:
Anemia. This condition tends to happen when your body doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells. Fatigue is the most common symptom. You may also feel short of breath, dizzy, and have cold hands or feet. Some guys get chest pain and headaches. Anemia can also stem from an ulcer or bleeding in your colon. Signs would include vomiting and stools that are dark and tarry, or spotted with bright-red blood. A simple blood test can tell you if you have the condition.
Low testosterone. This is the hormone that makes you a man. It helps you produce sperm and body hair. It also fuels your sex drive. Your body normally starts to make less of it around age 40. Some people call this "manopause." Too little testosterone can cause erectile dysfunction and loss of interest in sex. You might also get mood swings.
Low thyroid hormone. This condition is also called hypothyroidism, and it happens when your thyroid gland doesn’t work like it should. It can make you gain weight, get constipated, slow your heart rate, and dry out your skin. Blood tests can also check for this health problem.
Medication side effects. Drugs that treat allergies, depression, blood pressure, cancer, and other health conditions can zap your energy and leave you feeling more tired than usual. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of all your medications.
Chronic fatigue. If you’re tired all the time for 6 months or more, this could be why. It usually affects women, but guys can get it, too. Other symptoms include muscle aches, trouble with your memory, headaches, and sore lymph nodes.
Major illness. These conditions and others, or their treatments, can be linked with fatigue: cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, and heart disease.