If you arrive for your next shift, only to find that your get-up-and-go is consistently gone (even after a full night’s sleep) you could be experiencing TATT, or ‘Tired All The Time syndrome.’
Often seen as the little brother of chronic fatigue syndrome, TATT manifests itself in poor concentration, a feeling of constant exhaustion, difficulty in making decisions, and/or difficulty in accomplishing daily tasks. This can be especially dangerous if experienced at work where your career is at stake.
Here are six ways to fight TATT:
1.Rule out a treatable medical condition
Research has not yet identified a single cause for TATT, so before starting any effort to boost your energy, it’s imperative to see your healthcare provider to rule out a treatable medical condition.
Stress, disease, or conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or adrenal dysfunction can all contribute to chronic exhaustion.
Sleep apnea can sometimes be the cause of TATT. This condition occurs when the tissue at the back of the throat is damaged, obstructing the airway. This can make it difficult to breathe properly while resting, causing sufferers to wake up often during the night as the body reacts to the lack of oxygen.
Anemia can be another reason you may feel sluggish. Anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to carry iron-rich red blood cells around your body, which can cause you to feel fatigued.
2.Make sleep your #1 priority
There’s no overstating how restorative a restful night’s sleep can be. Establish a bedtime routine to maximize your success in getting seven to nine hours of good quality sleep.
Create a relaxing and inviting bedroom environment with a comfortable bed where electronics and ambient light are banned.
You should also avoid stimulants such as caffeine or television at night and energy-zappers like large meals and alcohol that could interfere with a refreshing sleep.
Studies have shown that 71% of people sleep with their smartphone, or have it on their bedside cabinet. Using a smartphone or laptop before going to sleep disrupts the natural sleep process, as these devices produce what’s known as blue light, which mimics sunlight.
Blue light stimulates the brain, suppressing the body’s production of the vital sleep hormone melatonin, which can make it more difficult to fall into a restful sleep. Limiting your use of smartphones, tablets, and other devices in the late evening can help improve the quality of your sleep.
3. Fuel yourself efficiently
Proper nutrition spread throughout the day can enhance your energy while keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels consistent. This means a balance of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy products, and lean meats.
Mini-meals can be a great option for people on the go, but be aware of portion sizes to avoid weight gain, and if you need to snack, choose a fiber and protein combination to give you an energy boost that lasts.
If you work irregular shifts, it’s recommended to make yourself a healthy lunch full of fruit and wholegrains, rather than fast food or vending machine snacks that are high in sugar or fat.
4. Don’t let dehydration derail your day
Fatigue is one of the first indicators of dehydration, which can affect your mood, decrease concentration and cause headaches.
Lack of fluids can also create a drop in blood volume that forces your heart to work harder when pumping oxygen and nutrients to your brain, skin, and muscles.
If you can’t drink a glass of water every hour or two, keep a bottle of water bottle handy to drink throughout the day so you can maintain hydration.
How do you know you’re drinking enough? Your urine should be clear or a pale yellow color.
5. Get in that work-out
Exercise naturally boosts energy, reduces stress, and improves sleep.
Moderate daily exercise such as gentle stretching or walking invigorates the body and mind, and can help maintain balance, strength, and flexibility.
But be sure to avoid exercising before bed, as the stimulation can interfere with your sleep.
Sleep studies have shown that sufferers who opted for moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking or light jogging, reduced the time it took to fall asleep. High-intensity exercise such as running or weightlifting had less effect however.
Stress affects your body in a variety of ways, which can include irritability, insomnia, tension headaches and depressed immune function.
Identifying your stress triggers and developing effective coping mechanisms can help you cultivate a peaceful, positive attitude that will allow you overcome challenges that would otherwise beat you into exhaustion.
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND is a diet and nutrition expert, who explained the medical reason behind TATT: “Physical or mental stress on a chronic basis does not allow the body to recover which can create Tired All The Time Syndrome. Stress stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone ‘cortisol’ to give you energy to respond appropriately to fight or flight situations.”
“As difficult as it may be when tiredness has become an issue, developing a positive attitude towards sleep can be a useful technique for achieving a rejuvenating rest. Thinking too often about sleep can create anxiety and contribute to the problem. Instead, try to look at sleep as a positive thing, and help clear your subconscious of worries.”
Finally, if you’re still tired after doing all of the above, it’s a good idea to consult a physician (if you haven’t already) about finding the cause of your fatigue and whether you need to look at different ways of fighting it.
After all, if you can’t count on your energy, what can you count on?