Find out how to fight fatigue and stop feeling tired all the time.

It’s normal for everyone to feel tired now and then, but if you are constantly exhausted ⁠— you are probably experiencing fatigue. What is fatigue? Keep reading to find out exactly what fatigue means and how you can avoid feeling tired all the time.

Did you know?
Fatigue is extremely common. About one-third of healthy adults and teens in the U.S. report feeling fatigued regularly. (1)(2)(3)

man and woman doing yoga outdoors

The best way to avoid fatigue is to remember that you need to balance your time between activity, rest, and sleep.

What does fatigue mean?

Fatigue definition: Fatigue is a state of feeling a lack of energy and motivation. You feel chronically tired – both mentally and physically. It can be described as either acute or chronic. (4)(5)

Acute fatigue

Acute fatigue can result from short-term sleep loss or just a boring and monotonous day at work. Nearly everyone is overtired or overworked from time to time. This type of temporary fatigue can often be reversed just as quickly with a quick snack, sleep, or relaxation techniques. (6)(7)

Chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue, on the other hand, is more unrelenting and isn’t relieved by rest. Chronic fatigue occurs when symptoms of extreme fatigue or exhaustion persist for six months or more.

If you suffer from chronic fatigue, you are in a nearly constant state of weariness that snowballs over time, eating away at your motivation, energy, concentration, emotional, and psychological well-being. (8)(9)

woman in the car pressing buttons

Did you know you are three times more likely to crash if you are fatigued while driving? Luckily, a pre-drive nap, driving with a friend, and listening to the radio can help. (10)(11)

What is chronic fatigue syndrome?

If you have been experiencing extreme fatigue for over six months, your practitioner may diagnose you with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). To be diagnosed with CFS, you often have short-term memory or concentration problems that cannot be explained by any other underlying medication condition. (8)

Right now, no test can accurately determine whether someone has CFS or not, but the medical field is working on it.

Researchers have recently developed a blood test that correctly identified all CFS sufferers in a pilot study. If validated in more extensive studies, the blood test could help diagnose the disease and enable researchers to test potential treatments. (12)

What are the symptoms of fatigue?

Chronic fatigue symptoms and signs of general fatigue include: (4)

Did you know?
Because fatigue is one of the leading causes of injury at the workplace and at home, most companies provide fatigue avoidance protocols to workers. (13)

person pouring oil on a bowl of salad

A diet full of fruits and vegetables, such as the Mediterranean diet, is a sure way to boost energy levels and fight fatigue naturally.

What causes fatigue?

Fatigue is a common symptom for many conditions and diseases such as adrenal fatigue or insomnia, but in most cases, it’s generally the result of a less-than-perfect lifestyle. Most of the time, your symptoms of fatigue can be traced to one or more of your personal habits, such as a sedentary lifestyle or soda before bed. For example, other common fatigue causes include: (14)

Did you know?
If you are chronically fatigued, you should consider talking to your practitioner about omega-3 fish oil supplements and adaptogens. (15)

Ten tips to avoid fatigue and get a natural energy boost

1. Nourish your energy levels

A number of factors can cause general sluggishness, but medical experts agree that nutrition is a big culprit. What you eat (or don’t eat) can have a profound effect on your energy levels.

Foods to avoid for fatigue: Try and avoid sugary and white starchy carbohydrates that give you a short-lived sugar rush followed by a sluggish crash. Focus on cutting out junk foods such as fast food, cake, cookies, white rice, bread, and pasta.

Instead, opt for whole-wheat carbohydrates, high-fiber, and anti-inflammatory rich foods. Quinoa, bananas, chia seeds, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, and brown rice are some good examples. (16)(17)(18)

Did you know?
Iron deficiency anemia is a common source of fatigue in women. (19)

pregnant woman in the kitchen holding a grapefruit in her hand

If you are anemic, consuming foods high in vitamin C can help your body absorb iron.

2. Don’t skip meals

Our bodies need the energy provided by food to be able to perform our daily activities. If you tend to eat at irregular times or skip meals, you may experience fatigue, food cravings, or increased eating at the next meal.

Eating smaller meal portions more frequently can help keep your blood sugar levels stable. This, in turn, keeps your energy levels stay balanced. Skipping meals, on the other hand, has been associated with fatigue and an increased risk of chronic disease. (20)

Did you know?
Intermittent fasting -when done correctly and in a consistent manner – can help with symptoms of fatigue. (21)

If you often feel fatigued, try eating every three to fours. With frequent meals, you are less likely to experience an energy crash. In turn, this will mean you’re probably less likely to reach for a coffee or sugary donut next time you feel fatigued at work. (22)(23)(24)

two men at work one writing and eating a salad snack

If you suffer from fatigue, you should eat more frequently. Healthy snacking is good for keeping you awake at work. (25)(26)

3. Cut out caffeine

Though it can give you a boost of energy in a pinch, drinking a lot of caffeine leads to trouble with sleeping and fatigue long term. Lowering your caffeine intake can actually give you more energy in the long run. Studies have shown that ingesting too much caffeine can be a root cause of your fatigue. Try slowly reducing your caffeine intake to help balance out your energy levels. (27)(28)

Did you know?
You should avoid drinking coffee or any caffeine eight hours before bed. Instead, try sipping on a calming tea like chamomile or mint to give your body time to wind down for a quality night of sleep naturally.

4. Try acupuncture for fatigue

Research has shown that acupuncture, which is a well known traditional Chinese medicine practice, could reduce both mental and physical fatigue symptoms of chronic fatigue. It’s said to act as an ‘immediate’ treatment for fatigue because it directly affects qi energy, and therefore works rapidly. (29)(30)(31)(32)

If you are trying acupuncture for fatigue, ask your practitioner about warm needling. Based on large study data, researchers have found that warm needling acupuncture is significantly more effective at reducing symptoms of fatigue than using standard or sham acupuncture. (33)

Did you know?
Just one acupuncture treatment may help regulate circadian rhythms and relieve daytime sleepiness within 24 hours. (34)

5. Stay active

Get moving! There is a laundry list of benefits for staying active. And If you spend a lot of time sitting and suffer from fatigue, it’s especially important to get your energy flowing through physical exercise. And it doesn’t have to be a high-impact style workout. Weekly low-intensity and moderate-intensity exercise have both been shown to reduce symptoms of fatigue significantly. (35)

Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every other day during the week.

Did you know?
Being overweight can cause tiredness. Just a small amount of weight loss has been shown to improve the quality of life for people with chronic fatigue. (36)

close up of someone's feet walking up the stairs

Using the stairs at work instead of the elevator or just stretching out at your desk for a couple of minutes can boost your energy levels.

6. Find out if you are a ‘morning’ or ‘night’ person

Are you a night owl or an early bird? All of our bodies follow an “internal” or “biological clock” cycle of wakefulness, alertness, and sleep. Although our circadian rhythms are influenced by external clues such as the sun setting and rising, it’s our brains that really set our personal patterns.

Most cycles are 23-25 hours long, and there are natural dips or periods when you feel tired or less alert – even for those who are well-rested. The five most common types of cycles are:

  • Definitely Morning (DM)
  • Moderately Morning (MM)
  • Neither (N)
  • Moderately Evening (ME)
  • Definitely Evening (DE)

Adjusting to a morning or nighttime routine depending on if you are an early bird or more of a night owl can have a significant impact on your energy levels. (37)(38)(39)

7. Get restful, quality sleep

If you have problems with fatigue, your sleeping habits often have room for improvement. Getting enough sleep is essential to maintaining balanced energy levels and avoiding fatigue throughout your day. Studies have shown that people diagnosed with CFS tend to have abnormal and erratic sleeping patterns. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Looking for ways to relax before bed if you tend to be an anxious sleeper or wake up at night? Try some light stretching, running a bath, sipping on a cup of chamomile tea, taking a natural sleep aid, or diffusing lavender or another essential oil in your bedroom before bedtime. (40)(41)(42)(43)

Did you know?
If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep. Try setting your thermostat to a cool temperature between 60–75°F.

8. Consider cognitive behavioral talk (CBT) therapy

Do you ever talk to anyone about feeling rundown all the time? Because talking to someone can help. Several studies have shown that talk therapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can improve symptoms of fatigue in people diagnosed with CFS. (44)(45)(46)

It can also help with anxiety, stress, and depression that often accompany CFS.

9. Drink more water

Dehydration is linked to low energy levels and trouble sleeping at night. Plus, if you go to bed dehydrated, studies have shown you are more likely to wake up with brain fog and fatigue the next day.

Try and drink at least eight glasses of water every day. According to one study, increasing water intake in people who usually don’t drink enough had a significant positive impact on energy levels. (47)(48)

Did you know?
People who drink water more frequently report more feelings of calmness, energy, satisfaction, and positive emotions. (49)

10. Practice mindfulness

A lot of the fatigue we experience is due to the fast-paced world we live in. Taking the time to relax, slow down, and be mindful of the world around us can do wonders for our health. (50)(51)(52)

There are countless ways you can practice mindfulness. Deep belly breathing techniques, yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage, and gentle stretching are all excellent examples of ways you can unwind, relax, and replenish your energy.

Did you know?
Practicing mindfulness has been shown to reduce exhaustion in entrepreneurs. (53)

woman sitting on couch indoors reading a book

Mindfulness practices come in all shapes and sizes. For example, you can go to the spa for a pampering treatment, or you can curl up on the couch with your favorite book.

When it’s time to see a practitioner about your fatigue

You should make an appointment with your practitioner if you have any of the following symptoms. These are signs that a condition, illness, or disease may be behind your fatigue. (54)(55)

  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained fever or pain
  • Confusion
  • Prolonged dizziness
  • Recent weight gain and swelling
  • Little to no urine when you try and go to the bathroom
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic headaches
  • Waking up throughout the night
  • Constipation
  • Cold intolerance
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Unexplained weakness
  • Intense change in mood

The bottom line — stay balanced

Some days and weeks are more tiring than others, but it’s essential to recognize the difference between being a little tired and being chronically fatigued.

The best way to avoid fatigue is to remember that your body and mind needs balance. Make an effort to balance your time between activity, rest, and sleep. Above all, honor your body and listen to how you’re feeling.

It’s normal for everyone to feel tired now and then, but if you are routinely rundown despite getting more sleep, slowing down, and eating — it may be a sign of a more severe condition. Talk to your practitioner. You may have an undiagnosed medical condition that needs attention.

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