Fatigue and lack of energy is everywhere. Our culture seems to encourage pushing until we hit burn out, but then doesn’t offer solutions when that happens.
Fatigue and exhaustion can be a symptom of so many things, that it can often get brushed aside, or you get used to being tired all the time. However, it can have a huge impact on your quality of life, with a trickle-down effect on every aspect. For example, maybe you crave more sugar and are quick to lose your temper, maybe you get a headache every afternoon, maybe you can’t focus on your tasks and often get confused, you get the picture.
There are a few basics that I always like to ask about, to rule them in or out as a contributing factor. The first is obvious, it’s your sleep patterns and the quality of sleep you get. Issues can range from waking to urinate, to sleep apnea, to full blown insomnia. On the flip side, maybe you sleep a lot but are still exhausted.
For women especially, I ask about thyroid health. Fatigue is a major symptom of a lagging thyroid, but also feeling cold, constipation and weight gain. Sometimes you can be borderline for hypothyroid but still feel miserable, it can be good to have a conversation with your doctor about it.
Lastly, I like to look into some nutritional components that can be crucial for sleep and energy production. For many, vitamin D can make a big difference, as well as iron for women. However, since these can become toxic, blood tests are necessary. B vitamins are a big player in sleep and magnesium can also play a part.
In TCM, we look at a couple major systems to deal with fatigue and sleep issues. The Spleen is a major player here, its in charge of blood and energy production and can be damaged by overthinking and overworking. The Liver oversees the smooth flow of qi and keeping a rhythm, waking at 3am can be a clue. The Heart and Stomach can be involved with nightmares and restless sleep. Kidney Yin can be crucial to help you fall asleep. But also, the Lungs are the first stop for qi production and oxygenating the blood.
So you can see, that there is not one answer, but many and it depends on what’s right for you.
Besides acupuncture and herbs, some of my favorite things to address fatigue and sleep are Qi Gong and 30 minute naps while listening to binaural beats.