Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Now that I'm spending a whole week with the focus on sleep, I'm looking for other causes of my fatigue. Let me say first that I'm hypothyroid. Being hypothyroid makes me very sensitive to feeling fatigue and I have to pay close attention to those feelings. Repeated bouts of fatigue during the daytime, when I'm getting adequate sleep at night, can raise a red flag and send me to the doctor for a thyroid medication check. Before I head to the doctor's office in a state of panic, there are a few other things I've learned to check first.
One of the first things that I usually check is the amount of protein that I've consumed for the day. Yesterday, I was feeling way too tired and dragged out to be normal. Upon checking the food tracker (got to love that thing) I noticed that my protein consumption was way too low. So for dinner I had a healthy serving of meat. Within about 40 minutes I was wide awake and full of energy. It was amazing! Obviously protein consumption is something that I need to watch for my own health. Some people who are hypothyroid need to make sure that their diet is rich in protein. I appear to be one of them.
The second thing that I check is the amount of water that I've consumed. Believe it or not, if I haven't had enough, it manifests itself in feeling tired and drained of energy. Since I live in Florida, keeping myself hydrated is a must. Today, for example, I did a strenuous workout in the water for about 75 minutes. The way the pool is shaped there is no place to set a water bottle. It is therefore very important that I drink quite a bit of water after my workout is over. When I started to feel really tired today, I knew that it was important for me to increase my water intake. Just like yesterday, as soon as I addressed the problem, I drank about 20 ounces, I perked right up.
The third thing I look at is physical stress such as illness, allergies or menstrual cycle. Any one of these or a combination can cause me to feel exhausted for no apparent reason. Several years ago I started getting frequent respiratory infections. In order to find out what was causing them, I started tracking combinations of things such as the weather, emotional stress, where I was in my menstrual cycle and the daily pollen count. Now I take allergy shots, monitor my sleep, eat lots of fruits/veggies and watch my stress levels. With my family doctor's help, I have reduced the respiratory infections to once or twice a year. I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism which is somewhat controlled with medication. I have found that I need to pay closer attention to my body's signals.
The last thing that I take a look at is the amount of emotional stress that I'm experiencing. Stress can do lots of strange things to your body including making you feel tired and or sick. If I've already checked on my protein, my water and my physical stress, emotional stress is the next thing on my list. There are lots of things you can do to deal with stress. Some of them are deep breathing, venting to a journal, venting to a trusted friend/ family member, distracting yourself by doing something fun, getting some aerobic exercise, meditating, practicing yoga, giving yourself a spiritual shot in the arm and getting professional help to manage your stress, just to name a few. Hubby and I are currently working on a very stressful community project. Being aware that I am stressed out is important. I can't do anything about the stress until I become aware that I am stressed! I've been doing deep breathing, aerobic exercise, venting , praying and some meditation. This has been very helpful in managing my stress level and fighting fatigue.
Sometimes fighting fatigue is as simple as tracking your sleep or your food and water on the tracker. Sometimes it's more complex and requires professional help. Learning to know the difference is important. My motto is, if all else fails contact the doctor and get yourself checked out. Find out what is causing you to feel tired so that you can enjoy your life. Remember, fatigue isn't just caused by not sleeping!