Ever since I can remember, I’ve had low energy and been constantly tired. When my sister and brother still believed in Father Christmas (and they were older than me), I knew it was actually my dad tiptoeing round our beds to put oranges and nuts in our Christmas stockings in the middle of the night, because I was still awake. Low energy levels make you feel so low. Even if I managed to doze off in bed, the slightest thing would wake me up. The landing light being switched on (there was a glass pane above the bedroom door). My sister having nightmares and calling for mum. The pillow being too hard. Or too soft. And I was always tired when I went to school. I remember looking at my bed as I was putting my school uniform on, and wishing I was still in it.
Keep a fatigue diary
I’m in my forties now and having no energy is a way of life. I’ve been to doctors over the years and it’s not so easy to a) find out what is causing you to sleep badly and b) to deal with it. There are lots of things that can cause fatigue and low energy levels. Many people compile something called a fatigue diary to track when and why they feel fatigue coming on. Obviously, just not sleeping at night will make you tired in the day, though many chronic conditions cause low energy levels and sleepless nights, as well as tired days.
Migraine and sleep problems
Migraine is one. According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine sufferers are 2 to 8 times likelier to experience sleep problems. Men suffer from migraine too, especially young men, but more women get it than men. I’ve always had headaches and when I was a teenager I was diagnosed as suffering with migraine. (Check out this AlliApp article to know when a headache is a migraine).
I was eating my lunch at school (my mate Susan suggested we all had packed lunches instead of school dinners. To be honest, I missed the chocolate pudding with white sauce that we had every Friday!). Anyway, in the middle of a sandwich, I could suddenly see just half of her face. Turns out it was the ‘aura’ preceding a migraine and not me going half blind – it was scary. Migraine can make you feel tired and groggy – and it can be triggered by lack of sleep, as well as by lots of other factors in your diet and surroundings.
Food and tiredness triggers
I do wonder if it was the more regular intake of bread that triggered off my migraine, as I now find that eating wheat makes me feel sick and tired, and I am more likely to feel strung out and get a headache when I eat it. Definitely if you have coeliac disease – when you can’t properly digest gluten in wheat and some other grains – you feel tired and ill. But it’s not just wheat or grains that can make you feel bad. Everyone is different and different foods can cause fatigue for different people.
Not tonight Josephine! (Or Napoleon)
Over the years doctors have checked me out for ME – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. They ruled this condition out but I really related to this ‘sex diary’ article about sex and exhaustion. Sex Diaries: ‘My Illness Means Sex Leaves Me Exhausted For Days’ When you’re tired you’re tired and there’s even a word (beginning with a k!) that relates to being tired after sex. Well I’m tired before, and sometimes during as well. Luckily, only sometimes.
Asthma and sleep deprivation
My mum has always suffered with asthma and because it affects your oxygen intake that can make you really tired too. Asthma is another illness, like migraine, that can be caused by certain foods and environmental triggers, (eg house dust or cigarette smoke). I’ve realised the best way to get to the root of what makes you tired is to keep a diary and it can be hard to be so methodical, especially when you feel tired just doing ordinary, everyday (and night!) things.
AlliApp Health and Food Diary
AlliApp Health and Food Diary has been a godsend. I just have it on me all the time, on my phone and it helps me keep track of what I eat and do as well as my symptoms. When did I feel more tired? When did I have a migraine? What had I done before this – in the days and weeks leading up to feeling bad? My doctor told me it’s best to check out if there are any recurring patterns over say, four weeks and AlliApp records everything and throws up possible triggers. And even when you have a hunch (or know for sure) what makes you tired and ill, AlliApp then helps you maintain better health in the long term. Constant monitoring is the key to better health.
I’m doing my best to feel better
Nowadays I still suffer from fatigue and recurrent tiredness but it makes me feel less down and despondent knowing I’m doing my best to get to the bottom of everything that makes me feel this way.