Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fatigue and Insomnia: 8 Ways To Deal With Constant Exhaustion

I have struggled with fatigue on and off for many years and it still never fails to kick my butt when it happens. So I have slowly been sliding back on the caffeine wagon and now I am trying to get back off. No caffeine for me unless it is in tea. Or chocolate. Caffeine makes for a lot of other problems for me in my life. However, getting away from it is easier said than done especially if I am exhausted and need to get something done!

Fatigue really is life-stopping for me. Getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home to make supper, attend the kids' activities, and coming home again is all I can accomplish some days when the fatigue sets in. Most of the time, I am fine with that because the important things in life are being taken care of. But I have so much more to do and get done! I get so frustrated!

Why do I experience fatigue in this way and manner?

First and most, I had a nasty little bout of mononucleosis when I was a teenager. When doctors say that will follow you around for the rest of your life, they aren't kidding!

Secondly, my body is trying to tell me something. Either I am overdoing things, I am stressed out, I am not feeding my body right, or I am not taking care of myself. I can be guilty of all four of those things simultaneously.

Thirdly, while I like autumn, I do not care for winter, the shortening of days, and lack of sunshine. I like sunshine and being warm! When fall comes, I find my energy levels going down.

Along with the fatigue, the insomnia has come back in full force. Which does not make any sense whatsoever. If I am tired, I should be able to sleep. But when I am tired all day and stressed out on top of it all, sleep doesn't come easily. My normal sleep pattern with insomnia is sleep for 3-4 hours, awake 1-2 hours, sleep 2-3 hours. I wake up feeling like I haven't slept at all.

Insomnia is something I have struggled with for the last 6-7 years. However, I got 7 hours straight last night so maybe I getting back to sleeping right.

So what I am saying is that I am not functioning at top levels which is irritating me because it is fall, I want to do a lot, get a lot done, and get in the spirit of the holidays. So not happening right now.

What to do? How do I overcome this?

I have several tips and techniques I employ. Let me put the disclaimers here and now: I am not a doctor or a medical professional of any sort. I just know what worked for me. I have done a lot of experimenting and researching to find things that work for me. They may not work for you and that is okay. You might have to do some research and experimenting for you.

Tips and Techniques to Overcome Fatigue (that worked for me!)

1. Take a daily multivitamin. I take one that easy to chew and digest. Very important to get these into your system quickly and not make your stomach do all the work of breaking the vitamin down.

2. Take as much Vitamin D as you can have. I take at least 2000IU in the morning and 2000IU at night. This helps me tremendously in the fall and winter to feel better and have more energy. My doctor suggested taking Vitamin D because almost everyone does not get enough Vitamin D. Again, find one that easy to chew and digest.

3. Soak up as much sunshine as I can. Safely. I do not condone the use of tanning beds. I mean all-natural sunshine that is normally in abundance (although in Iowa that can be a toughie sometimes!). Sunshine has been shown to have a very positive effect on a person's energy levels and attitudes as well as their health. Please use sunscreen though. I burn easy so I have to!

4. Get plenty of sleep! With insomnia, this can difficult. I try to be in bed by 10:00 if not sooner. I also find doing a little reading and meditating helps to get myself to sleep. I also find shutting off the television and the phone also helps. I like to sleep in total darkness so I make sure all forms of distracting light is covered up including the alarm clock. When I wake up in the night, if the room is dark and nothing to distract me like my phone, I will usually fall back to sleep faster.

5. Exercise! I know, I know. I hate that word too. Most days I don't have time for much exercising away, but I try to walk a few blocks in town, around the farm, a mile in the country, or clean house vigorously every day. Some days are better than others for that. Sometimes I turn on 90's dance music and get my groove on while cooking dinner. Do whatever works for you! Exercise helps get my energy up and makes me feel better.

6. Eat well. Cut out the processed junk and eat as little sugar as possible. I know this is not easy. I get my choice of concession stands at least 2-3 times a week that do not offer whole, unprocessed food. But eating plenty of vegetables and fruits will make you feel so much better. Eating meat, whole grains or gluten-free, minimal dairy will make you feel better also. I make a lot of our food from scratch and the difference is amazing in how we feel and how some of our health issues have cleared up. I highly recommend this step!

7. Deal with the stress. Stress will cause me a significant number of health issues. Stress directly impacts my ability to sleep and stay asleep. Notice I don't say to get rid of the stress. Sometimes that is not possible, but dealing with the stress is possible. Find something that helps you process the stress like meditating, praying, journaling, talking to a good friend, exercising, etc. If you can get rid of the stress, by all means do!

8. Cut down the caffeine! I am not saying that a cup or two of tea or coffee is bad for you in the morning. I have a cup or two of tea every morning. But drinking caffeine all day long will definitely impact how you sleep and your energy levels. Feeding your body false energy all day will be very detrimental to your body. Your blood sugar levels never get a chance to stabilize themselves and you will be left with a dragging feeling that never quite goes away. Besides that, soda and energy drinks are absolutely horrible for your body and health. Get rid of them and feel better!

I hope I have helped you in some way. I know writing this article has helped me remember what I need to do, but I also want to help you! Struggling with fatigue and insomnia is difficult. Listen to your body and make that changes in your life that you need to feel better!

Thanks for reading!


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