It seems with all the go-go-go our society demands, fatigue is becoming more and more common among Americans – especially busy women and moms.
One cause of the problem? Overcommitment. As women we value relationships and connection with people, so we say ‘yes’ to too many things in order feel productive or needed, when we should instead evaluate whether or not we have time before signing up. Learning to say ‘no’ can be one of the first steps to fighting fatigue.
Another cause? Lack of sleep. According to health experts we’re supposed to get 7-9 hours a night. But more often we’re only getting 6-7 hours, which just isn’t enough for optimum mind and body function.
So what can we do about it? Women’s Health Magazine contributor Dr. Keri Peterson, recently stopped by The Today Show to share her top five tips on how to fight fatigue.
1) Drink plenty of water. Although we most often think the first sign of dehydration is thirst, Peterson says it’s actually fatigue. It’s easy to forget to drink water throughout the day when we’re busy, but when we’re dehydrated we lose alertness and become tired fast. To refuel throughout the day, grab a glass of water every couple hours. Or my favorite tip is to carry a water bottle and aim to refill it 4-6 times a day.
2) Turn off that iPhone. Peterson argues the importance of disconnecting from technology before bedtime because our devices can stimulate brain activity and make it harder for our brains to shut off. The screens omit an artificial blue light that can suppress melatonin production, which can interfere with our ability to fall asleep. In addition to unplugging at least an hour before bed, Peterson also suggests turning your phone off at night since there’s no need to get phone calls or texts in the middle of the night that can interrupt your rest.
3) Study the fine print on your medications. Did you know fatigue can be a side effect of several common medications you may already be taking? Allergy and depression medications are just two examples that can cause tiredness and fatigue. So be sure to ask your doctor if any of your prescriptions could be slowing you down.
4) Mix up your workout. In general, exercise reduces fatigue and re-energizes us, which we love. But one thing you may not know is that if you’re a ‘prolonged exerciser’ – meaning you exercise regularly more than 30 minutes a day – this can actually be stressful on the body and raise cortisol levels, which can cause fatigue. Peterson suggested the best activity is interval training. Simply alternate intense bursts of activity with weight training to keep your body guessing and avoid weightless and fitness plateaus.
5) Don’t forget about iron. Low iron levels can cause anemia, which can also cause tiredness. We need at least 18 mg of iron a day, and even more for women when we’re menstruating. Visit your doctor and get your iron levels checked to see if this may be a cause of your fatigue.
Keep these five simple tips in mind when you’re feeling low on energy. We especially love the advice on staying hydrated, well rested, and switching up your workouts, and can personally testify to their benefits.
March 30th, 2012