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Daytime Fatigue

Do you feel like you have to drag yourself out of bed every day and need a strong dose of caffeine just to get going? Or, do you feel that you could take a nap every time you stop moving during the day? If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone. Daytime fatigue is a significant problem that affects people from all walks of life. While Starbucks and Red Bull appreciate the business daytime fatigue generates, the good news is that it is often treatable once you know what is causing it.

Some of the causes of daytime fatigue include:
1. Not having good sleep habits:
For example, not having enough time to sleep at night or not having a regular sleep schedule.

2. A sleep disorder, such as:
Narcolepsy – People with this condition are very sleepy in the daytime and sometimes fall asleep suddenly during normal activities.

Sleep apnea – People with this condition stop breathing for short periods during sleep.

Insomnia – People with this condition have trouble falling or staying asleep.

3. A medical problem, such as:
Hypothyroidism – This is the medical term for when a person does not make enough thyroid hormone. This hormone controls how your body uses and stores energy.

Low testosterone – People with this condition often feel depression, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, decreased strength and low energy levels.

Depression – People with this condition feel sad or down a lot of the time. They often also have trouble working or doing everyday tasks.

4. Things that disturb your sleep, such as:
Sounds – For example, if you have a new baby, he or she might cry and wake you up at night.

Health conditions, such as restless legs syndrome or nighttime leg cramps.

Schedule changes that affect sleep – This might include working a night shift or traveling to another time zone.

Medicines – Certain medicines can cause daytime sleepiness.

What can you do to improve on your own?

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
  • Have drinks with caffeine in them only in the morning (these include coffee and tea).
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking, especially in the evening.
  • Lose weight, if you are overweight.
  • Exercise several days a week, but not right before bed.
  • Stay off your back when sleeping. (This is not always possible and does not always work.)
  • Avoid looking at a phone or reading device (“e-book”) that gives off light before bed. This can make it harder to fall asleep.

When should you come see us?

  • You have tried some of the things above and still don’t feel as good as you would like during the day.
  • You are often very sleepy in the daytime.
  • Your fatigue interferes with your work or other aspects of your life.
  • You fall asleep in the middle of normal activities.
  • You fall asleep in a dangerous situation, such as while driving.

How can I know what is causing my fatigue?
There are many different tests, but you might not need any. It depends on your age, other symptoms, and individual situation. Basic questions can help us determine the cause of your fatigue, but a simple blood draw is often beneficial to help us determine the cause.

Depending on your personal situation, a “sleep study” may also be very beneficial for you. Historically, this test required you spend the night in a sleep lab, but for many people, this can now be done in the comfort of your home. The results of the test tell us if you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

How is daytime fatigue be improved?

  • Correcting any medical causes of fatigue such as thyroid, depression or low testosterone.
  • Lifestyle changes – These can include changing your work schedule, taking naps, losing weight, or avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
  • Devices you wear at night – These can help people with sleep apnea.
  • Medicines – There are medicines that can help you stay awake in the daytime or sleep better at night.

If being tired during the day is a concern, come in and let us help you feel better and let you get more out of each day.

Jared Ricabaugh, FNP-BC

About the author

Jared Ricabaugh, FNP-BC

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