Identifying the Signs and Causes to Prevent Daytime Fatigue
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Daytime drowsiness is all too common for Americans. Cooper Clinic Preventive Medicine Physician, Emily Hebert, MD, says fatigue is a complaint she hears from patients on a daily basis.
Constant sleepiness isn’t something to take lightly. Sleeping in on a Saturday morning probably won’t cure your fatigue and left untreated, fatigue can be dangerous. Drowsy driving is to blame for nearly 1,000 fatal car accidents annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The first step in treating fatigue is to determine the root cause of your drowsiness. What’s making you so sleepy? Dr. Hebert breaks down some of the most common causes of fatigue.
Leading cause of fatigue: Poor sleep
Quality of sleep and quantity of sleep are to blame for most cases of fatigue. Adults need to get between seven and eight hours of solid sleep a night to feel rested and function at maximum capacity during the day. In reality, most American adults get between five and six hours of sleep per night, and some get even less. The amount of time you sleep at night is extremely important to feeling well rested.
Quantity isn’t the only measurement of sleep that matters. Quality of your sleep should also be considered. Stress, electronics, alcohol -- these are all factors that can affect quality of sleep.
To improve the quality of your sleep, be sure your phone is on silent before you go to bed. Do not keep a television in your bedroom and leave your iPad and other electronics outside your bedroom when it’s time to sleep. Even a faint blue light from a cell phone on the charger can interrupt sleep.
Avoiding drinking alcohol at night can also help improve the quality of your sleep. While alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it will negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Alcohol can cause you to wake up frequently at night and once you wake up, it can be difficult to fall back asleep. Likewise, caffeine can also affect your sleep. Avoid caffeine late in the afternoon if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Stress is another factor impacting quality of sleep. We all have stress in our lives, but managing your stress as best as possible can improve the quality of your sleep. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and give yourself time to unwind before hitting the pillow at night to help minimize the impact of stress on your sleep.
Other causes of fatigue
Poor sleep isn’t the only possible cause of your fatigue. If you are getting the recommended hours of quality sleep at night and are still fatigued, there are some other issues to consider, including the possibility of medical conditions that may be making you tired.
Medications -- Certain medications contain stimulants that can make it difficult to sleep or interrupt your sleep. Drowsiness can also be a side effect of some medications. Talk to your physician about the medications you are taking to determine if they are the cause of your fatigue.
Sleep apnea -- Sleep apnea is a medical condition that affects the quality of sleep. The sleep disorder can obstruct your airways while you sleep, making it difficult to breathe. Sleep apnea is often treated with a CPAP machine and patients report better sleep and less daytime fatigue. If you think you may have sleep apnea, ask your doctor to refer you to a sleep specialist for a sleep test.
Hormone imbalance -- For men, testosterone deficiency can cause fatigue. Testosterone treatments can help, but should only be used if testosterone levels are tested and found to be abnormal. Women going through menopause often have difficulty sleeping at night, which can cause fatigue. Unfortunately, hormone replacement treatments for women often comes with significant risk of breast cancer and other health conditions, and should only be considered if quality of life is so poor that hormone replacement treatments are the best option.
Mood disorders -- Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders can also be a cause of fatigue. Treatment through talk therapy and/or medication can help.
Heart trouble -- In some causes, fatigue may be a sign of underlying cardiac risk factors. In this case, you might notice more fatigue during routine activities or exercise than normal. It’s important to rule out high blood pressure, diabetes and other cardiac risk factors as the consequences of leaving these conditions untreated can be severe.
Get rested: Tips to reduce fatigue
First, you and your doctor must work together to determine the cause of your fatigue. If it’s related to poor sleep or a medical condition, those underlying causes should be treated.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help reduce daytime fatigue. Eat a varied diet that is high in protein and low in carbs (to avoid sugar crashes). The healthier your diet, with fruits, veggies, lean cuts of meat, the better off you’ll be and the more energy you will have during the day. Eating multiple small meals throughout the day can also help prevent you from getting sleepy during the day.
According to Dr. Hebert, many times fatigue is purely related to lifestyle, but that can be hard to overcome. For example, there is little a stay-at-home mom may be able to do to get more rest during the day.
If you suffer from constant fatigue, talk to your doctor. While it may simply be due to your lifestyle, it’s important to rule out any more serious health conditions as the cause of your fatigue.
Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.