A Holistic Approach to Identifying and Addressing the Common Causes of Fatigue

Dana Nikolic

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this article is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional before changing your diet, exercise, or sleep habits.

Fatigue can be extremely frustrating and can sometimes leave you feeling hopeless. The worst thing is that it can be complicated and very time-consuming in some cases to find the root of the problem, even for the best doctors out there. That being said, I'll try to help you as much as I can and share some of the most common causes of fatigue and what you can do about them.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies are one of the easiest fatigue causes to pinpoint and the most important. When your vitamins or minerals are out of whack, your energy levels can take a massive hit. Anna Harris, an expert from Australian company NursingCourses, highlights the significance of addressing nutritional deficiencies when tackling fatigue:

"Addressing nutritional deficiencies can play a crucial role in overcoming fatigue. Ensuring that your body has the right balance of vitamins and minerals will help with energy production, oxygen transportation, muscle function, hormone regulation, immune system function, and nervous system function. A well-balanced diet, including whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, is essential for maintaining optimal health."

Poor Sleep Quality

Poor sleep can have a wide range of adverse health effects on a human. One of the most significant consequences of inadequate sleep is impaired cognitive function. Sleep is essential for maintaining optimal brain function, and when we don't get enough, it can result in problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.

In addition to cognitive impairment, poor sleep can affect our mood and emotional well-being. People who consistently experience insufficient sleep are likelier to suffer from irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and even depression. The ability to cope with stress is also compromised when we don't get enough rest, further exacerbating these emotional issues.

Physically, inadequate sleep can weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to infections and illnesses. In addition, our bodies rely on rest to repair and regenerate cells; when we don't get enough, this essential process is disrupted. As a result, consistently sleep-deprived people may take longer to recover from illnesses or injuries.

Poor sleep is also linked to an increased risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. For example, lack of sleep can disrupt the hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased hunger and a higher likelihood of weight gain. Sleep deprivation can also impair the body's ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, contributing to chronic health issues over time.

Furthermore, sleep plays a vital role in the body's hormonal balance. Insufficient sleep can disrupt the production of hormones like cortisol, melatonin, and growth hormone, leading to imbalances that affect overall health and well-being.

If you suspect sleep apnea or another sleep disorder may contribute to your fatigue, consult your doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Lack of Physical Activity

There are so many processes in the body when you're exercising or simply moving around that it can be challenging to put in text. Apart from getting better circulation, you also release many 'feel-good hormones' when you exercise, leaving you in a state of overall well-being. In addition, it has been shown that even your blood can change with exercise.

The inhibitory neurotransmitter endorphin (a chemical hormone) released when you exercise can also help you handle stress and anxiety much better. It really does make a difference, speaking from personal experience.

Exercise also has a positive impact on sleep quality. Physical activity can help regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle, making falling and staying asleep throughout the night easier. Good sleep is crucial for restoring energy levels and reducing fatigue.

Stress and Burnout

Stress and burnout can significantly contribute to fatigue as they considerably burden the mind and body. When we experience stress, our bodies respond by activating the "fight or flight" response, which involves the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Our bodies have been programmed with this since the stone age, but it could serve us better in the digital age.

While some stress can indeed be good, prolonged stress can lead to burnout, characterized by emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. Burnout typically occurs when the demands on us exceed our ability to cope or recover, leading to constant fatigue and an overall sense of being overwhelmed.

One of the ways stress and burnout affect our energy levels is by disrupting our sleep patterns. Stress can make falling or staying asleep challenging, as our minds might be preoccupied with worries or racing thoughts. Poor sleep quality, in turn, can lead to increased fatigue and reduced energy levels throughout the day. But, again, this is due to the simple fact that your body doesn't get the adequate rest it needs.

Stress can also impair your body's immune system, making fighting off infections and recovering from illnesses more difficult because your stress is 'stealing' the energy that would otherwise be used for self-healing.

Furthermore, chronic stress can affect our mental and emotional well-being, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, or irritability. These emotional states can exacerbate fatigue and make it more challenging to find the motivation and energy to engage in activities we once enjoyed.

In addition, stress can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating or relying on stimulants like caffeine or sugar to provide temporary energy boosts. These coping strategies can ultimately contribute to fatigue, disrupting our body's natural energy regulation systems.

Poor Diet

A poor diet can greatly impact fatigue, primarily because you won't get all the vitamins and minerals you need to function properly. Also, consuming a diet high in processed foods and added sugars can lead to unstable blood sugar levels and big insulin spikes, which can affect your energy levels drastically.

To optimize your energy levels, Anna Harris recommends eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains.

"I had a huge shift in energy when I got on the ketogenic (keto) diet. What keto diet forces your body to run on ketones instead of glucose by eliminating carbs. This completely eliminates any insulin spikes, keeping your insulin and blood sugar stable throughout the day. The fact that I haven't taken a single nap in months after switching to eating low-carb really tells me diet is an underestimated element when it comes to fatigue."

It is important to note that the keto diet may not suit everyone, and individual responses may vary. Therefore, if you're considering trying the keto diet or making any significant dietary changes, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it's appropriate for your individual needs and health goals.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Fatigue can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, anemia, or chronic fatigue syndrome. If you've addressed other potential causes of fatigue and are still experiencing persistent exhaustion, consult your doctor for a thorough evaluation.


Fatigue can be a complex issue with many potential causes. Still, you can take meaningful steps toward restoring your energy levels by addressing nutrient deficiencies, improving sleep quality, incorporating regular exercise, managing stress, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet. Always consult your doctor before making any significant lifestyle changes or if you suspect an underlying medical condition may cause your fatigue. You can overcome fatigue and reclaim your vitality with the right guidance and support.

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Hi, I'm Dana Nikolic! Join me on my journey to make the world a healthier and happier place!

Georgetown, TX

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