- This Is Why You Get Sleepy After Lunch
- 1. Don't skip breakfast
- 2. Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- 3. Opt for macro-nutrient balanced meals
- 4. Go outside or get moving
- 5. Check in with the doctor
- 12 Sneaky Reasons Why You Always Feel Tired
- 1. Low Sleep Quality
- 2. Anemia
- 3. Caffeine
- 4. Poor Diet
- 5. Low Vitamin D Levels
- 6. Chronic Stress
- 7. Thyroid Disorders
- 8. Diabetes (or Prediabetes)
- 9. Autoimmune Disorders
- 10. Heart Disease
- 11. Depression
- 12. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- 12 Possible Reasons You May Feel Tired After Eating
- When to See a Doctor
- The Hypothalamus Hypothesis
- 13 Possible Reasons People Get Tired After Meals
- 1) Sugar and Refined Carbs
- 2) Inflammation and Food Sensitivity
- 3) Acid-Base Balance
- 4) The Mitochondria and ATP
- 5) Leptin
- 6) Low NAD+
- 7) Rest-and-digest System Activation
- 8) Circadian Cues
- 9) CCK
- 10) High-tryptophan Foods
- 11) Insulin-Induced Low Potassium
- 12) Marijuana and Alcohol Use
- The 14 Most Common Causes of Fatigue
This Is Why You Get Sleepy After Lunch
You've just enjoyed a tasty burger for lunch and are back at your desk slugging away. Five minutes in and you're overwhelmed with sleepiness, so much so that the space under your desk is looking pretty damn comfy right about now.
But why do we get sleepy after lunch? Is it just because we're full, or is it a sign we're not doing lunch right?
“Feeling a little tired after eating a meal is perfectly normal,” Robbie Clark, dietitian and sports nutritionist, told The Huffington Post Australia. “There are a few reasons why we experience the post-lunch slump, but the main reason is due to the digestive process.”
Although it might not feel it, the body uses a fair amount of energy to digest the pasta you've just eaten.
“Our body requires energy to function and survive. We get this energy from our food, which is broken down through the digestive process and converted into fuel, or glucose, and then macronutrients provide calories (or energy) to our bodies. Our digestive system triggers all kinds of responses within our body,” Clark explained.
Another reason we may feel sleepy after lunch, or after eating in general, is due to the amount of insulin produced after certain meals, which can trigger our 'happy' and 'sleep' hormones.
“After eating — particularly sugary foods — insulin is produced by the pancreas which then converts these sugars (glucose), circulating in the bloodstream into glycogen within our cells,” Clark said.
“Excessive secretion of insulin causes the essential amino acid tryptophan to move into the brain. Once in the brain, it leads to increased production of serotonin and melatonin, which are two neurotransmitters that have a calming effect and help regulate sleep. Interestingly, around 90 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movements.”
Accredited practising dietitian Jemma O'Hanlon agrees, saying the amount of carbohydrates we eat at lunch can affect how sleepy we feel afterward.
“Carbohydrate containing foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes boost the production of a neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which can boost our mood but also make us feel content and possibly sleepy,” O'Hanlon told HuffPost Australia.
“It's often when we've eaten quite a large meal that we may feel uncomfortable and sluggish, as well, so it's always good to listen to our hunger signals and stop when we feel comfortably satisfied.”
Another factor that may contribute to drowsiness after a meal is if you suffer from a food allergy or intolerance.
“Food allergies and intolerances are usually associated with digestive problems such as bloating, gas, reflux, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, as well as lethargy,” Clark said.
“Finally, general overeating, large portions and the consumption of particularly fatty meals can leave you feeling sleepy because the body has to work overtime and utilise more energy to break down the quantity of food.”
On top of these physiological reasons as to why we may feel sleepy after lunch, there are also a few other key foods which can contribute.
“Though all foods are digested in much the same way, not all foods affect your body in the same way,” Clark explained.
“For example, you've probably heard or experienced that turkey can make you sleepier than other foods. Turkey and other high protein foods such as spinach, soy, eggs, cheese, tofu and fish contain higher levels of tryptophan. Studies have shown that cherries (particularly sour cherry) affects melatonin levels, which is the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.”
Another sleepiness inducing food is white bread, particularly when compared to whole grain, wholemeal or multigrain bread.
“When you consume white bread your body quickly absorbs the fibre-less starches and refined sugars rapidly, which causes a spike your blood glucose levels. This spike is short lived and results in plummeting blood glucose levels, which can lead to feelings of tiredness and sleepiness,” Clark said.
To avoid after lunch sleepiness, Clark and O'Hanlon recommend the following.
1. Don't skip breakfast
We've all been told how important breakfast is for both our bodies and mind. According to Clark, eating breakfast can also help reduce tiredness later in the day.
“If you skip breakfast, it sets the energy standard for the rest of the day,” Clark said. “Plus, come lunch time you will be extremely hungry and are more ly to make poorer food choices or have a larger portion.”
2. Eat smaller meals throughout the day
“A large meal requires more energy to digest. Instead of eating large lunches, you may want to try eating smaller meals throughout the day,” Clark said.
“For example, balance a small lunch with mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks so that you meet your recommended dietary intake of calories throughout the day.”
“Eating smaller, more frequent meals across the day can help keep our blood sugar levels steady and give us those regular top ups of energy,” O'Hanlon added.
“It's never good to overdo it at any meal, and getting the balance of carbohydrates, proteins and good fats can help fuel us for longer.”
3. Opt for macro-nutrient balanced meals
“Instead of choosing processed foods and starchy sides, make sure that your lunch is balanced and healthy by opting to have a lunch that features colourful vegetables as the main attraction, and a serving of whole grains and lean protein,” Clark said.
“Other food tips to avoid slumped energy levels include drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, avoiding too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, and eating smaller, more frequent meals.
“Also, to help balance blood sugar and insulin levels, choose natural foods that are high in fibre and protein such as whole grains, legumes and nuts.”
To know how to choose (or make) macro-nutrient balanced meals, O'Hanlon recommends focusing on the healthy plate model.
“Aim for half your plate to be non-starchy veggies, one quarter to be lean meat or alternatives, and one quarter to be whole grains,” she said.
“Often we tend to skimp on the vegetable or salad component, but it's important to get a few serves of our 'five a day' at lunch time and this will help balance the rest of our plate.”
4. Go outside or get moving
Instead of spending your lunch time inside, enjoy your meal outside and, if you can, schedule in a walk.
“Exercise can keep you alert during the day by optimising oxygen and blood circulation around the body and to the brain, minimising the risk of your post-meal slump,” Clark said.
“Getting outdoors is also going to help increase oxygenation to the brain.”
5. Check in with the doctor
If you're constantly feeling tired and it's affecting your day-to-day life, O'Hanlon recommends checking in with a health professional.
“If you're feeling tired it could be also due to a vitamin or mineral deficiency. For example, iron deficiency, which is very common in young females, particular those not eating meat,” O'Hanlon said.
“If you're feeling tired regularly, I'd recommend visiting your local GP and having a general check-up.”
This story was originally published on 01/09/2016.
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12 Sneaky Reasons Why You Always Feel Tired
Reaching for that 3 p.m. coffee because you feel tired all the time? The truth is, what’s in your favorite mug may be masking the real reasons you’re forever fighting fatigue. Most doctors agree that major causes of daytime fatigue include:
- lifestyle issues lack of sleep,
- chronic stress,
- poor diet,
- and lack of physical activity.
1. Low Sleep Quality
An array of issues may plague your sleep, including too little of it, low quality, or sleep apnea, any of which can have a cascading effect on your energy and metabolism.
Sleep balances your body and circadian rhythms, and regulates hormones that control everything from eating habits and cravings (ghrelin and leptin), to stress response (cortisol), growth hormone, and more.
Some reasons you aren’t getting stellar sleep can include:
- Light, specifically blue light emitted from modern gadgets with screens. Mounting research, including a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, points to blue light exposure two hours prior to sleep causing a decrease in overall sleep quality and making it harder to wake up. Use the blue light filter on your phone, or get an app for your computer f.lux, which gradually dampens blue light after sundown.
- “Sleep apnea has been linked to daytime fatigue,” says Gene Sambataro, DDS, of the Julian Center for Comprehensive Dentistry. One apneic event means airflow stops for a minimum of 10 seconds. “Sleep apnea results in very poor and fragmented sleep and an inability to achieve deep sleep. Plus, the adrenal glands are releasing adrenaline during sleep due to the ‘fight or flight’ response caused by choking and obstruction from the tongue and soft palate,” Sambataro adds.
- Alcohol can also negatively impact quality of sleep even though it may make you sleepy, says Mladen Golubic, MD, PhD, medical director for the Center of Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
Anemia occurs when too few red blood cells are produced. “Red blood cells transfer oxygen, so if you don’t have enough oxygen being transported to tissues, you may feel tired,” explains Dr. Golubic. Fatigue is the number-one symptom of anemia, so it’s a common first place to look deeper, especially in women of childbearing age who are menstruating.
There are various types of anemia, however—from iron deficiency anemia and B12 deficiency to more rare conditions.
Iron can be found in dark leafy vegetables, legumes, and even dried fruit, but “even if you’re eating a diet high in these plant foods your nutrient absorption could be off (vitamin C may enhance iron absorption), plus anyone with a chronic disease could be anemic, too,” warns Dr. Golubic.
As much as you may love your beloved coffee or diet cola, caffeine later in the day can interrupt sleep, which can cause daytime fatigue.
What’s more: certain medications, the birth control pill, can prolong the effects of caffeine, says sports nutritionist and author Marie Spano, MS, RD, making a single cup of coffee last in your system for up to a full day and possibly longer. You may want to avoid your caffeine vehicle of choice after noon.
4. Poor Diet
One of the biggest nutritional culprits for causing fatigue is high sugar intake. And it’s not just sugary drinks and cakes that top the list.
Sugar can be hidden even in seemingly healthy foods sauces and cereal, energizing you temporarily, and then making you feel tired shortly afterward.
To avoid blood sugar spikes from hidden sugars, eat more fruits and vegetables as your carb sources, plus lean protein, healthy fats, and fewer processed foods.
Diets high in unhealthy fats from fried foods can also make you tired because ”they take a while to digest. So blood from the brain and muscles is shuttled to digestive tract to digest the fatty foods,” Spano explains.
Plus, adds Spano, “You may simply not be eating or drinking enough.” People who are trying to lose weight need to strike a balance in fueling for enough energy. And hydration is also imperative.
When you’re dehydrated, you have decreased mental function and fatigue; because less water equals lower blood volume, and lower blood volume means less water going to the brain and muscles.
” Water recommendations vary, but the Institute of Medicine recommends 2.7 liters daily for women and 3.7 liters for men.
Even food allergies can cause fatigue, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RDN, manager of wellness nutrition services for Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. They lead to inflammation, which could cause you to feel tired. To test for them, you’ll take a food allergy test; or, for improved accuracy for gluten and lactose, genetic tests may help, she adds.
5. Low Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, one that can help regulate mood, energy levels, and more. Research in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences shows that fatigue is common in vitamin D deficient patients and that bringing those levels back to normal improved D-related fatigue. Get outside more to help your body produce vitamin D, or supplement with D3.
6. Chronic Stress
Believe it or not, stress is actually a good thing, providing motivation and focus to get things done. But when it turns into chronic stress as your foot stays glued to the gas pedal, says Dr. Golubic, it can cascade into fatigue and worse, because your body is flooded with the stress hormones.
Mounting research points to benefits of regular practice of stress-relief techniques as being one of the single most important outcomes of chronic stress-related disease because stress can trigger not only fatigue, but also increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, autoimmune flare-ups, and more.
How to kick the hothead habit? Self-care practices such as meditation and/or yoga—they really do work.
Startling research in the journal PLOS ONE reveals a direct connection between meditation and the turning on of genes that contribute to energy metabolism, mitochondrial function (again, related to energy), insulin secretion, and reduced genes related to inflammation and stress.
“Give [meditation] a try, five minutes a day, three times a week, building up to 20 minutes a day. You may find yourself far more resilient and able to bounce back from stressful events more quickly,” Dr. Golubic says.
If meditation isn’t your thing (or in addition to it), Dr. Golubic suggests relying on friends to talk to and decompress with and to be physically active.
“It doesn’t have to be running a triathlon, it can be walking, running, biking, or strength exercises. You want to have a habit of it,” he says. Every step, every muscle move counts.
Find the activity you enjoy and the time of day that works for you.
RELATED: How Today’s Workout Affects Tonight’s Sleep
7. Thyroid Disorders
Whether you are hyperthyroid (produce too much thyroid hormone) or hypothyroid (produce too little), you could be fatigued throughout the day, according to Dr. Golubic. The reason is that the thyroid regulates the body’s metabolism, or its production of energy, among other things.
Hypothyroidism is actually fairly widespread, affecting about 5 percent of the U.S. population, according to Jacqueline Jonklaas, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, division of endocrinology at Georgetown University. Yet many people don’t know they have it.
“Since fatigue is a common symptom, your doctor may test your TSH [thyroid-stimulating hormone],” says Dr.
Golubic, “then he or she may look into thyroid hormone T3 and T4 levels,” and only if those are not optimal your doctor might consider looking at thyroid antibody levels, which can indicate an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s disease.
Synthetic or natural thyroid supplements can help symptoms, as can a whole foods diet that avoids gluten, dairy, and soy, according to clinical pharmacist Izabella Wentz, Pharm.D., author of the New York Times best seller Hashimoto’s Protocol.
8. Diabetes (or Prediabetes)
“Low energy can be seen with diabetes, either due to insulin deficiency or resistance to insulin,” says Dr. Jonklaas.
Too much blood sugar can create a groggy effect and too little means that blood cells don’t have enough energy to transport. “If diabetes is present it can be easily diagnosed.
It is then treated with lifestyle modifications and medications, including insulin, and energy levels would be expected to improve,” she explains.
9. Autoimmune Disorders
Any autoimmune condition, from Hashimoto’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis and lupus, can cause fatigue, says Dr. Golubic. For autoimmune diagnoses, your doctor will order appropriate tests.
10. Heart Disease
Those with heart disease, coronary artery disease, or arrhythmias may feel tired or weakness due to reduced optimal blood flow to the body’s tissues. Reversing heart disease starts with changing your diet and exercise habits.
For this you’ll have to go beyond your doctor for help. “Creating a plan for monitoring lifestyle modifications is usually a team effort involving a primary care physician, a specialist, a nutritionist, a support group, trainers, etc.,” Dr.
RELATED: 10 Simple Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Heart
Depression may affect sleep, causing you to get too much or too little, and can cause anxiety among many other symptoms, draining the energy reserves you have. Previous theories linked depression to low serotonin, but this 50-year-old hypothesis has been disproved. As it relates to fatigue, sleep disruption seems to be the major connection between depression and fatigue.
12. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS is defined as six or more months of extreme fatigue, and can also include loss of memory, mood changes, joint pain, and more.
CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion—meaning all other medical conditions must be ruled out before a doctor can arrive at this diagnosis, and there are no exclusive tests for it,” says Deena Adimoolam, MD, endocrinologist and spokesperson for the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network. Note that CFS symptoms can appear similar to those associated with more common problems depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
As you can see the reasons why you could be tired are numerous. So instead of shrugging it off, if it is chronic or gets worse, talk to your doctor.
12 Possible Reasons You May Feel Tired After Eating
Why do you get tired after meals? Some post-meal fatigue is perfectly normal. Science suggests that there are dozens of reasons you may get that middle-of-the-day tired spell or the crushing post-dinner sleepy feeling. Read on.
People often feel tired after eating. Most of the time, this is a perfectly normal, physiological response.
However, the extent to which we may feel tired after meals can vary – from person to person, day to day, and meal to meal.
It can depend on a number of factors, including age, health status, the amount and type of food, the time of the day, and more.
Scientists have many hypotheses about all the reasons why people may feel tired after eating. We’ll try to give you an overview of all the possible explanations in this article. Have in mind that one doesn’t exclude the other and that there’s no single cause of fatigue after meals.
Note: In the scientific literature, post-meal fatigue is known as “postprandial fatigue.”
When to See a Doctor
If you feel your post-meal tiredness is extreme and it’s impacting your daily life, it would be best to see a doctor.
The following are all reasons to talk to a healthcare professional:
- Suddenly feeling much more tired and sleepy than usual after meals
- Indigestion or other gut issues
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Prolonged fatigue after meals
- Mood changes
- Abnormal eating habits (such as overeating or not eating enough)
- Not having control over the amount of alcohol you drink
- Other types of addiction (including marijuana/THC use)
There are many possible causes of abnormal post-meal fatigue. Your doctor should diagnose and treat the underlying conditions causing your current symptoms, taking your medical history and labs into account.
The Hypothalamus Hypothesis
According to one experimental hypothesis, one of the reasons for fatigue has to do with the hypothalamus. This hypothesis has mostly been tested in animals and we don’t know if it holds true in humans.
Scientists suspect that several hypothalamic areas, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), lateral hypothalamus (LH), and ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) are implicated in the regulation of sleep, wakefulness, and food intake .
But let’s step back first to brush up on the basics.
Metabolism is the process by which energy that goes in (caloric intake) is used by the body. When energy isn’t used the way it’s supposed to, metabolic problems can arise [2, 3].
For example, people who are obese do not expend the calories they take in. Instead, they are being stored as fat. The opposite would happen in people who are underweight because they expend more calories than they take in. We can view both as metabolic problems.
Another issue, yet, are diseases metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and inborn errors of metabolism. Therefore, metabolic problems are a broad category.
That said, here’s a list of some of the possible reasons scientists think people may feel tired after eating.
13 Possible Reasons People Get Tired After Meals
Don’t make any major changes to your diet or lifestyle before speaking with your healthcare provider.
1) Sugar and Refined Carbs
We’ve written about orexin and fatigue already.
Research suggests that high blood glucose suppresses orexin, which controls wakefulness. Orexin is most active in the hypothalamus .
Simple sugars and refined carbs will quickly break down into glucose, which may trigger more sudden and pronounced fatigue. On the other hand, complex carbs and other macronutrients will do so slower. Also, swapping refined carbs white bread for higher-fiber (lower glycemic index) carbs is better for overall health.
2) Inflammation and Food Sensitivity
Researchers believe that another possible reason some people feel tired after meals has to do with inflammation. Inflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-1b seem to suppress wakefulness-promoting orexin .
Some people have food allergies or sensitivities and get inflammation from specific components of their meals. Anecdotally, people have claimed to resolve excessive post-meal inflammation after getting diagnosed and treated for food sensitivity.
If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity or are curious to learn more, check out these articles:
3) Acid-Base Balance
Limited research suggests that orexin may be sensitive to minor changes of pH in the blood [6, 7].
When blood acidity temporarily goes down and blood or tissues becomes slightly more alkaline, orexin is more ly to be suppressed and tiredness will ensue.
Fermented drinks kombucha are hypothesized to be refreshing and energizing precisely because they are slightly acidic (thanks to their lactate content, among other compounds). The same goes for foods sauerkraut and pickles .
Also, exercise is thought to increase orexin by slightly and temporarily raising lactic acid. Plus, getting regular, moderate exercise is good for overall health – and we know from experience that it makes us feel energized .
However, the human body is extremely good at maintaining blood pH levels within a tight, normal range. It’s uncertain to what extent fermented foods and exercise can impact this to affect post-meal fatigue.
4) The Mitochondria and ATP
Orexin is suppressed by glucose, as mentioned. But some scientists think that when there are enough filled energy-related molecules – including adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and pyruvate – orexin may not be as easily suppressed .
Mitochondria are what control the production of energy-related molecules. Theoretically, this means that issues with the mitochondria can reduce ATP, which may cause fatigue. A direct link between mitochondrial health and post-meal fatigue, though, hasn’t been discovered .
Leptin increases with fat mass. It also goes up after meals. Thus, leptin has been called the “satiety hormone that causes weight loss,” the “obesity hormone,” and the “starvation hormone.”
In some studies, chronically-elevated leptin levels have been associated with obesity, overeating, and inflammation-related diseases, including hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease . However, no cause-and-effect has been established.
Meals with carbohydrates and fats increase leptin more than high-protein foods [12, 13]. Some scientists think this may, in part, shed light on why carbs make people more tired than other macronutrients.
6) Low NAD+
Researchers claim that NAD+ is important for DNA repair, stress resistance, and cell death. NAD+ research is still in the early stages, though, and most of these effects remain unexplored in humans [14, 15].
Limited studies suggest that NAD+ also increases metabolism and acts as a signal for energy balance. In line with this theory, healthy mitochondria produce more NAD+, which might set in motion other signals to increase energy intake and expenditure. Low NAD+ might, theoretically, have the opposite effect. This is still uncertain, however, and mostly animal data .
Human studies are needed.
7) Rest-and-digest System Activation
Eating activates the body’s rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) nervous system, which increases blood flow to the gut area. It also stimulates digestive enzymes and liver activity [17, 18, 19].
8) Circadian Cues
You might notice that you feel more tired after lunch than breakfast or dinner.
This is because there’s a rhythm to wakefulness – the so-called 12-hour harmonic in the circadian system – and at around 1 to 3 PM, you naturally feel more tired. This is a real phenomenon and it’s called the afternoon dip or the post-lunch dip .
Research suggests that the post-lunch can occur even when a person skipped lunch and is unaware of the time of day. This can be worsened by a high-carbohydrate lunch and seems to be more ly to occur in extreme morning-type individuals .
After 10 AM, sleep urge starts to go up, peaking around 2 PM. The wavy orange/red line shows the circadian rhythm of fatigue. The other part (sleep need) illustrates the steady buildup of metabolic products such as adenosine that cause fatigue .
The bottom line is that people are more ly to get tired after lunch for circadian biology reasons.
Some researchers hold that cholecystokinin (CCK) is a significant factor in post-meal fatigue. CCK is a gut hormone that seems to be mainly released in response to a fat-rich or lectin-rich meal. Long-chain fats (saturated, MUFAs, PUFAs) might be potent CCK inducers .
In animals, a high protein diet also increases CCK. Animal studies will often use fatty acids from olive oil to induce CCK release (oleate) [23, 22].
Scientists suspect that CCK might:
- Cause sleepiness/fatigue because it directly interacts with the hypothalamus (despite the fact that it activates orexin 
- Inhibit hypothalamic noradrenaline, which is a plausible mechanism for CCK’s fatigue-inducing and appetite-suppressing effect 
- Stimulate the colon (via the hypothalamus), which may cause gas 
- Follow a circadian rhythm
- Cause gut pain hypersensitivity 
Giving a CCK blocker to rats prevented post-meal fatigue, whereas in humans it actually increased post-meal fatigue .
Thus, the impact of CCK on post-meal fatigue in humans is still unclear. Larger human studies are needed.
10) High-tryptophan Foods
The body uses tryptophan to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in sleep and relaxation. Thus, a high tryptophan load may increase serotonin and post-meal sleepiness. One study suggests that this may particularly be the case in people with chronic fatigue syndrome .
Some examples of high-tryptophan foods include: turkey, tuna fish, hard cheese, bread, chicken, eggs, peanuts, and chocolate .
11) Insulin-Induced Low Potassium
Insulin causes serum potassium outside of the cells to go inside. This slightly lowers potassium after meals, which is normal, but linked with fatigue. In healthy people, potassium remains relatively constant after meals. Low potassium from insulin is usually seen as dangerous only in people with diabetes and possibly in those at high risk [30, 31, 32].
12) Marijuana and Alcohol Use
Both marijuana use and alcohol can make you feel more tired. This is true in general, but it can become even more obvious after meals.
One of the side effects of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, is fatigue and sleepiness. Have in mind that cannabis use has been associated with health complications, addiction, cognitive and mood issues, and withdrawal syndrome.
Alcohol can also worsen fatigue after meals. Drinking alcohol before, during, and after meals intensifies daytime sleepiness and worsens the quality of nighttime sleep. Alcohol addiction is a serious worldwide problem .
Don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel your cannabis use or alcohol drinking is taking a toll on your life.
The 14 Most Common Causes of Fatigue
Lack of sleep causes fatigue, and can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being.
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time each morning to keep yourself on schedule.
Make sure your mattress is comfortable, the room is sufficiently dark and cool, and your cell phone and television is off.
If you are still unable to sleep after making changes to your sleep environment, consult a doctor to rule out a sleep disorder.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.
Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. Lose weight if you are overweight, quit smoking, and avoid alcohol. Your doctor may also prescribe a CPAP device, which helps keep your airways open while sleeping.
What you eat (or don't eat) can affect how much you do or don't sleep. Not eating enough, or eating foods that are not nutritious can cause fatigue. If you eat foods that cause spikes in your blood sugar, as soon as those sugars drop, you feel fatigued.
Eat a balanced diet, complete with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Avoid or limit junk foods high in sugar and fat.
Iron deficiency anemia is a common cause of fatigue in women. Red blood cells (pictured) carry oxygen throughout the body, and iron is a main component of these cells. Without enough iron, your body may not be getting the oxygen it needs for energy. Women who experience heavy menstrual periods, or are pregnant may be at higher risk for iron deficiency anemia.
If you are anemic due to iron deficiency, you may be able to replenish your body's iron through diet. Iron-rich foods include meats, beans, tofu, potatoes, broccoli, nuts, iron-enriched cereals, and brown rice. Talk to your doctor if you think you need iron supplements to determine the proper dosage.
Depression causes sadness and anxiety, but it can also cause physical symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, aches and pains.
If you or someone you care about is depressed, seek medical attention. Depression may not resolve without treatment, and there are many treatments including therapy and medications that can help resolve symptoms.
The thyroid is a gland that regulates the metabolism, or how fast the body converts fuel into energy for your body's functions. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) causes fatigue, depression, and weight gain.
A blood test can confirm if a person has hypothyroidism. The good news is that the condition usually responds well to replacement thyroid hormones.
Most people take caffeine to help them perk up. In moderation, caffeine does improve alertness and energy. However, too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, increased heart rate or palpitations, high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia. In addition, after caffeine wears off, users can 'crash' and feel fatigued.
If you drink a lot of coffee, tea, or cola that contains caffeine, or take medications with caffeine, you will need to gradually wean yourself off these drinks, supplements, or medications. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly eliminate caffeine entirely, so start slowly. First, start drinking more water and fewer caffeinated beverages every day.
Common symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs) include pain or burning during urination, or the feeling or needing to urinate urgently or frequently. But UTIs can also cause fatigue and weakness.
If you suspect a UTI, see your doctor. The usual treatment for a UTI is antibiotics, which should cure the condition in a week or two, alleviating the fatigue and the other symptoms.
Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.
If you are a person with diabetes, it is important to manage your disease. Your doctor will often recommend lifestyle changes including diet and exercise. You may also be prescribed insulin or other diabetes medications to help you control your blood sugar levels.
We all know water quenches thirst, but did you know a lack of it could make you fatigued? By the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
While any liquid will help hydrate you, water is the best option. It's free of sugar, calories, and caffeine. Most experts recommend about eight glasses per day, but you may need more if you exercise or live or work in a warm environment. If you're well hydrated, your urine will be clear or pale yellow. If it's darker, you may need more fluids.
Have you found yourself fatigued by everyday activities such as shopping, cleaning, or climbing stairs? When the heart is less able to pump blood to all of the body's tissues, it conserves resources by diverting blood from the limbs and instead sending it to the vital organs. This can cause fatigue and may be a sign of heart disease.
Heart disease is a serious condition and needs treatment, so talk to your doctor. There are lifestyle changes (for example, diet and exercise), medications, and physical therapy that can help you control your heart disease and help you get back to doing what you love.
Shift work can wreak havoc on your body's 24-hour internal clock, or circadian rhythm. When you work nights or rotate shifts, your body doesn't know when to be awake and when to sleep, which causes fatigue.
Daylight is often a cue to be awake. If you must sleep during the day, try to make your sleeping area as dark, cool, and quiet as possible. If you must work at night, keep your workplace brightly lit. Try to work night shifts all in a row and avoid frequently rotating shifts. Stay away from caffeine, and stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as possible on days off.
Food allergies can cause fatigue. Certain foods may contribute to chronic fatigue. If you feel sleepy after eating certain foods, it may be intolerance to that food.
The best way to see if you are sensitive or intolerant of a certain food is an elimination diet. Eliminate suspected foods and see if there is an improvement in your energy levels. If you reintroduce the foods and the fatigue returns, the food just may be the cause. Talk to your doctor about the best way to go about an elimination diet.
Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are conditions that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.
Both conditions are chronic and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue. Strategies include good sleep habits (limit caffeine, keep your bedroom dark and quiet), relaxation techniques, light exercise, pacing yourself, and eating a balanced diet.
Some of us are simply tired with no medical cause. The good news is that exercise may give us a boost. Studies consistently show that people who engage in regular exercise feel less fatigue than those who don't. When exercising for energy stay in the low to moderate exertion range, such as walking, yoga, or light resistance training to fight fatigue.
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- UpToDate: “Approach to the Adult Patient with Fatigue.”
- UpToDate: “Overview of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults.”
- WebMD: “Coping With Excessive Sleepiness.”
- WebMD: “Exercise for Energy: Workouts That Work.”
- WebMD: “Living With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.”