From Freshly Charged To Falling Asleep On Your Feet…..The Fight With Fatigue

Each of us as humans have faced the problem of being overtired and excessively weary from time to time. Those times when we feel and act like the living dead and a task as simple as getting dressed feels like a marathon in the making. Fatigue, weariness, lethargy and a severe lack of energy from time to time is actually a perfectly normal condition that on occasion affects all of us. It can be brought about by a variety of situations or things, Common triggers for excessive fatigue include stress, mental or physical exhaustion, a reaction to specific medications or even has its root in a psychological disorder. However when this state of lasting for more than a few days, and isn’t taken care of by a few good nights of solid sleep, that is when we have to consider that it may be n affliction or illness and not just a passing phase – Therefore, should this prove to be the case, it is important to diagnose the condition as early as possible, and set about treating  its root cause as opposed to just dealing with its symptoms.

Clinical research has documented an interesting fact, and that is that over thirty percent of all visits to a doctors office is because of the same complaint – the feeling of extreme fatigue, exhaustion and lack of energy. The problem one often encounters here is the fact that determining the reason for extreme exhaustion can prove rather difficult to determine from a medical point of view, which is often the reason that a doctor will recommend that the patient undergoes a wide scope of tests, everything from blood to urine and stools are requested in order to try and identify the precise underlying issue that is causing the constant sense of exhaustion. As mentioned earlier extreme tiredness can be brought about by anything from sleeping disorders, an unbalanced thyroid gland, anxiety or even anaemia. There is definitely no one size fits all when it comes to identifying the cause of extreme fatigue.

Some of the causes of fatigue have already been mentioned. Alterations to our bio-rhythmic sleep patterns can be one of the most serious culprits responsible for sudden constant fatigue, these can include a lack of sufficient sleep, sleep apnea, interrupted sleep, over-consumption of alcohol, shift work (changing day to night) and an excessive amount of sleep can all be a reason for fatigue. Malnutrition and other nutritional disorders like protein deficiency, marasmus, complete calorie deficiency and kwashiorkor have also been linked many times to causing excessive fatigue or exhaustion. Endocrine disorders may also play a significant role especially in the format of low or high blood pressure, and high or low blood sugar, variations in thyroid functionality and gastrointestinal disorders, like peptic ulcers or gastroesophageal reflux.

Lastly but certainly worth mention is the fact that excessive fatigue can be triggered by exercise and what would be termed Exercise abnormalities or disturbances, by this we mean the lack of physical exercise, over exercising and creating a state of burn out. An unhealthily excessive workload, along with psychological reasons that could range from depression and anxiety to unresolved grief or stress that has yet to be worked through. Medicinally the consumption of blood pressure medication, antidepressants, beta blockers, diuretics, ACE inhibitors and anti-anxiety medication (especially the benzodiazepine group) too can cause fatigue.

So, as you can see, the causes of fatigue are numerous and varied, ranging from physical to psychological and even medicinal. The one common denominator that seems to be present in all the aspects that relate to the cause of fatigue is an imbalance or disturbance of some sort. Too much or too little physical activity, too much or insufficient mental activity, medications that don’t completely agree with our physiology, hormone levels that are not being dispersed in the correct ratio by our brains or bodies, emotions that are running rampant as they haven’t been analyzed and dealt with.   

Listed below are examples of the four most common reasons for feelings of exhaustion and malaise

The first is the most obvious, and that is overexertion of your body, which can cause all three of your doshas ( Vata, Kappa, and Pitta) to become unbalanced due to exerting yourself beyond your capacity. Exercise and physical activity is a vital component of health, but as with all things it should be performed in moderation.

Much as overuse of your body contributes to a tridoshic imbalance, underuse of your body with little to no physical activity can create a cycle of inactivity, lethargy and fatigue, a result of which is an accumulation of ama throughout the body, as undigested toxic matter builds up and creates feelings of severe tiredness and malaise

Within the science of Ayurveda, the amount of recorded information detailing the value of nutrition is staggering, the Ayurvedic philosophy of Annaha Brahmaha, which translates into “food is divine” is all that needs to be taken into consideration when looking at your diet, if your diet is irregular, high in over-processed foods and generally unhealthy, then your body cannot extract the nutrients it requires to nourish itself and provide you will energy and zest. In addition to this, there are certain foods that have a direct impact on your prana or vital energy, draining it and leaving you feeling exhausted, a few examples of these are foods that are over-processed, high in fat content, and drinks which are high in caffeine or alcohol.

When it comes to sleep there is no documented exact amount that you need to obtain in order to be in prime health. However insufficient, interrupted and irregular sleep all contribute to a sense of exhaustion and feelings of tiredness. In a recent publication by the Environmental and Occupational Medicine journal of Great Britain, it was concluded that getting less than six hours of sleep nightly has a direct effect on judgment, reaction time and bodily coordination. It also plays a contributing factor in creating higher levels of anxiety, depression and stress levels.

Some of the physical symptoms of excessive fatigue and malaise can include; dizziness and vertigo, laziness, a shortness of breath and heart palpitations and bodily weakness combined with the obvious lack of energy and feelings of tiredness.

In the science of Ayurvedic healing and treatments, excessive fatigue and exhaustion are caused by an imbalance of one or more of the doshas. The imbalance could even be in all three of the doshas. As we know exhaustion and fatigue may have causes that stem from mental physical or emotional factors. In terms of the doshas when fatigue is the condition that you are looking to treat, it is generally Vata that is primarily involved, as aggravated and unbalanced Vatta is one of the main causes of diminished circulation of the nutrient plasma that is distributed to all of the body’s organs and tissues. This poor circulation may well cause feelings of exhaustion and fatigue. Fundamentally imbalance and aggravation of the various bodily constituents, leads to the stomach being overburdened, leading to an excessive production of Ama as opposed to healthy ojas. The production and accumulation of Ama within the body can lead to the onset of all sorts of illnesses and disease including fatigue and exhaustion.

A diet that pacifies the three doshas is one of the most important remedies to counteract and combat fatigue. Looking at your diet from an Ayurvedic perspective, whole foods, that are consumed in as natural a state as possible is the basis for a healthy diet. The Ayurvedic sciences advocate the consumption of pure foods, called Sattvic foods in Ayurveda. Sattvic foods tend to be mild and not overly abundant in flavours such as spiciness, saltiness or heat. The Ayurvedic diet also advises that stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and tobacco be minimised. Chilled and iced drinks should also be kept to a minimum and never consumed during or directly after meals, this is to ensure that our agni or digestive fire is unaffected. However warm water or herbal teas can be consumed during mealtimes.

Sufferers of fatigue should avoid physically excessive exercise, the practice of yoga could be of great benefit to recharge your energy levels and breathing exercises such as Pranayama can also be highly beneficial.