Common Causes of Fatigue

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Close to 4 million Canadians suffer from insomnia – a common type of sleep disorder that can make it difficult for one to fall (or stay) asleep at night, in addition to contributing to other symptoms including difficulty focusing, agitation, and daytime fatigue. The good news is, when it is identified, insomnia is something that can usually be easily treated – and sometimes all it takes is making a few small changes to your sleep hygiene habits, such as:

• Sticking to a regular sleep schedule each day
• Establishing a relaxing routine (reading a book, taking a warm shower/bath)
• Going to bed when you feel tired, not forcing yourself to stay awake
• Having a comfortable sleep environment
• Turning off your phone alerts/notifications at night
• Medication, if necessary

That being said, while insomnia is certainly one of the most common causes of fatigue, it’s also not the only cause – and if you’re experiencing unexplained tiredness – particularly during the day, then this is something that should be further evaluated by a medical professional, as there are many reasons why you could be feeling more fatigued than normal – including both lifestyle and physical factors.

When it comes to lifestyle factors associated with fatigue, these include things such as:

• Physical exertion
• Weight (being overweight or obese)
• Having an unhealthy diet
• Overconsumption of caffeine
• Certain medications

Fortunately, these are all things you can improve on your own. For example, getting regular exercise and weight loss, while also changing your eating habits can significantly improve your energy levels. If a medication you’re on is the main contributor to your fatigue, you could speak with your prescribing physician about potentially changing the dose (or switching to a different medication.)

When it comes to the physical factors that are associated with fatigue, these include conditions such as:

• Arthritis
• Anemia
• Fibromyalgia
• Thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism)
• Autoimmune disorders
• Diabetes
• Eating disorders
• Liver disease
• Kidney disease
• Congestive heart failure
• Cancer

Mental health can also be a contributor to fatigue. For example, if you’re under a lot of stress or feeling depressed, this can cause you to feel extremely tired. If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s always important to reach out to someone you trust – be it a friend, family member, or doctor. Speaking to a licensed counsellor and going for cognitive behavioural therapy treatment (also known as CBT) can also be beneficial.

If you’re unsure as to why you’re always feeling so tired, seeing your healthcare provider for regular examinations can be a good place to start, as this will often include you being sent for bloodwork (and, if necessary, medical imaging tests), which can tell a lot about your health and why you feel the way you do. If you have already been previously diagnosed with any of the aforementioned medical conditions, also ensure you’re seeing your physical for regular check-ups, and report any abnormalities with your symptoms or medications you’re taking.