If you are regularly getting 8 hours sleep a night and yet still feel constantly tired then it may be worth making a visit to your doctor. There are a number of serious illnesses that make you tired especially those that cause pain, but quite often we are surprised to find that minor illnesses also leave us feeling completely wiped out. There are a number of fatigue-causing health conditions to watch out for.
1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is also known as ME or myalgic encephalomyelitis. It is a severe and disabling tiredness that often continues for well over six months. Other symptoms associated with ME include sore throat and headache, and muscle and joint pain.
2. Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease is found in people who have intolerance to gluten. Gluten is found in products such as cereals, bread, biscuits, pasta, sweets, gravy thickeners and cakes. When ingested the body reacts badly. There are currently 250,000 diagnosed cases in the UK, but actually there are many more sufferers unaware that they have gluten intolerance. Other symptoms to look out for include diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss. Coeliac disease is diagnosed through a blood test.
For many of us, the most common medical reason that we feel so tired and run down is because we are suffering with iron deficiency anaemia. Anaemia affects around one in 20 men and post-menopausal women but it is most commonly found in women who have heavy periods, especially around the time of the menopause. Other symptoms include feeling apathetic with heavy muscles.
4. Under-active Thyroid
If you have an underactive thyroid gland you are producing too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body and this is what causes the feeling of tiredness. This can have a knock on effect as we may have aching muscles, meaning we will exercise less and put on weight. An underactive thyroid is generally most common in older women. Diagnosis is through a simple blood test.
5. Sleep Apnoea
Sleep apnoea can be a scary condition. What happens is that the throat narrows or closes during sleep which can repeatedly interrupt breathing. This leads to bad snoring (which will also disturb your bedmate) and a drop in the oxygen levels of your blood. This difficulty in breathing inevitably means that you wake up more often during the night than is normal, and so you feel completely exhausted the next day. Sleep apnoea is most common among overweight, middle-aged men. Smoking and drinking are known to exacerbate the problem.
6. Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is becoming increasingly better recognised. This syndrome causes sufferers to have uncomfortable sensations in the legs, which keeps them awake at night. There is an uncontrollable urge to keep moving the legs, or a deep ache in the legs. Sometimes the legs might jerk spontaneously through the night. Quality of sleep is therefore poor and sufferers feel tired throughout the day.
Feeling tired is a key symptom of diabetes, which itself is a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood. Other important symptoms to note include a strong thirst, going to the toilet a great deal, and weight loss. Diabetes is diagnosed through a blood test.
8. Glandular Fever
Glandular fever is a common viral infection, mainly present in teenagers and young adults. Sufferers will commonly have fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Usually, glandular fever symptoms clears up within four to six weeks, but unfortunately the resulting fatigue can carry on for several more months.
We all recognise that depression makes you feel very sad and brings you down. It also has the knack of draining you of all reserves of energy. No matter how tired you are, if you suffer with depression you may also find that dropping off to sleep, or staying asleep, is problematic too. A rough night results in you obviously feeling more tired during the day.
A feeling of anxiety is usually perfectly normal, however for some people their anxiety is way out of control and their daily life is affected. Doctors call this generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety is known to affect one in 20 people in the UK. Sufferers find that they are worried and irritable. They often have trouble sleeping or staying asleep as their worries roll through their minds over and over again. The smallest trigger can set off a bout of anxiety.
Bear in mind that sometimes we should be less concerned with how much sleep we are getting and more concerned with how well we sleep. Constant waking, tossing and turning will sabotage what little sleep we do manage to get. Practice essential sleep hygiene by getting rid of electronics in the bedroom, avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and stimulants and make sure your bedroom is a relaxing oasis with black out curtains and good ventilation.
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