“I am tired of being tired and talking about how tired I am.” ~ Amy Poehler
Three Paths to Discovering the Root Cause of Your Exhaustion
Many people are dealing with mental and physical fatigue.
Waking up and feeling tired is a common issue in our 21st-century society which I classify as a “hustle” culture.
In this article, I want to share my story and provide you with three paths to investigate as you look for the answer to your fatigue. The three paths include:
I remember it well, waking up every morning exhausted before my feet hit the ground.
It was five years ago before I learned anything about sustaining health in the long run. My sleep gradually, over the years, began to deteriorate to the point I was tossing and turning, getting up and going to the recliner, and getting about 2-3 hours of actual sleep a night.
This went on for nearly ten years. I was stressed from business pressure, kids transitioning out of high school to college, and just too much to do for too long.
I didn’t know that I had several developing issues in my physiology that contributed to waking up and feeling tired all day.
If not for my close and expensive relationship with Starbucks, I’m not sure I could get through most days. I diligently went to the gym four to five days a week, but every workout felt terrible.
You know the saying, “no pain, no gain.” It’s all I knew, so I kept moving forward, never asking why I felt this way. I had turned 50 a few years earlier, so I chalked it all up to aging and accepting it as my lot. I’ve since learned that is a mistake.
About this time, I met a brilliant physician with a different approach than I was used to in my primary care doctor’s office.
Traditionally, I would go in for my physical; the doctor would examine me, review the labs, and suggest that I was well within the averages, as I was waking up every day exhausted!
I also suffered from acid reflux; we tested my testosterone, but to no avail; nothing changed. I learned this was all my local doctor could do - not because he didn’t want to do more but because (according to the insurance company) insurance prevented him from trying unnecessary things.
I could hardly fault my local doctor, an excellent clinician. His hands were tied.
If I had an actual disease, he has a full range of options to treat my disease through surgery, prescription drugs, and other therapies depending on the condition. When it came to being tired, however, no answer.
Enter Dr. McNamee, my new friend, who suggested he have a go if I was willing to invest my own money in the process. Right then and there, I agreed. I wasn’t going to let the insurance industry determine how I cared for my only body.
Here is what I learned…
Every human has something called an Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This is a branch of your Central Nervous System.
To keep this simple, the ANS is responsible for balancing your body with the external environment.
Housed in the ANS is your stress response, the mechanism that enables your body to mobilize for a threat. Fortunately, in today’s world, we don’t have tigers chasing us; our problem is inside us.
Humans have the unique ability to create stress merely by their thoughts.
You’ve done it; an argument with your spouse is replayed a million times in your mind afterward. Perhaps you’ve had a deadline approaching, and you ruminate or worry about this deadline.
Here’s the bottom line, when you think like this, looking back or looking forward, you activate your body’s stress response as if a lion were right behind you. Because we do this constantly as humans, we create a situation where we are in chronic stress response.
The literature is clear on this - chronic stress that is not managed well leads to chronic disease. It also plays havoc with your ability to get restful, restorative sleep.
So, your relationship with stress is one path to investigate and determine if a course correction is necessary.
The good news is that you can learn to self-regulate through stress through diaphragmic breathing and other techniques.
No one but you can adapt to remove some stress from your life. Engaging in stress management practices can be life-changing and improve your energy.
I used to say something dumb, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I have too much to do to lay in bed.”
That landed me in severe burnout, and some significant health issues were developing. Fortunately, I caught all this in time and changed how I lived. You can do the same.
Sleep is the most crucial task you do each day.
Research by the National Sleep Foundation suggests we get 7-8 hours of “in bed” time each night.
At Tiger Medical Institute, we teach our clients that they need 6.5 hours of actual sleep each night or five sleep cycles.
For those learning about sleep, this requires 8-9 hours in bed until they can improve their sleep efficiency (asleep time divided by time in bed).
When we sleep, the body works to restore our tissues, complete neuro-cellular cleaning, and other critical functions.
When we fail to sleep adequately, those functions never happen. This can lead to disease and significant fatigue.
Poor sleep over decades can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
To repair your sleep start with stress management and combine it with sleep hygiene.
Hygiene includes a set sleep and wake time, a good bed, good bedding, a cool and dark room, turning the television off in your room permanently, and when you finish eating at night.
This combination of stress and sleep management can be decisive for people with fatigue. For others, it only scratches the surface. Let’s now talk about physiology.
To get to the real truth, I encourage you to do what I did and seek out a functional medicine practitioner. You can find a functional physician at www.ifm.org.
This is a real physician who uses a different approach, focusing on root causes, not prescribing a drug (which is not healing you, but merely managing the symptoms).
A functional doctor will likely not accept insurance as insurance companies won’t reimburse for what they deem unnecessary preventative tests.
The problem is that these root cause tests are exactly what you need.
They provide the physician with a mosaic of data on any physiological imbalances you have today. Your fatigue could very likely be rooted in those imbalances.
When you correct the imbalances, manage your stress and commit to improving your sleep, the combination can transform your energy and health; it did mine.
Commit to Improving Your Sleep, Managing Stress, & Getting to the Root Cause
By committing to improving your sleep, managing your stress, and seeking out the root causes of your fatigue, you can solve the being tired riddle you are tired of talking about.
At Tiger Medical Institute, we integrate three pillars of medical science to transform the health of our clients.
Those pillars include:
- Peak performance science (stress management and sleep optimization)
- Root-cause functional medicine
- Cognitive disease risk assessment and treatment protocols
We act as your guide through this complex maze of potential solutions, create a personalized plan for recovery, and provide you with a doctor and a health coach for a year. Collectively, they help you implement the plan and our eight health habits for sustainable optimal health.
My story ended well.
Dr. McNamee, Tiger’s Chief Medical Officer, reverse-engineered my issues, created a custom treatment plan, and then worked with me to implement all the aspects of the plan.
Today, I’m more energetic and healthier than I’ve been in two decades. You can live the same story as me as well.
Consider jumping on a consultation call with one of our professionals at Tiger Medical Institute today!