Saturday, September 23, 2017
Why am I Always Tired?

TIRED TIRED TIRED TIRED

Tired. Sleepy. Fatigued. When your friend asks, “How are you today?” do you ever respond with any of these words? “A little tired.” “Worn out, man; I didn’t sleep well last night…..” We all frequently use these adjectives as if they mean the same thing; they don’t. There are subtle differences, and though you certainly don’t need to spend the next couple of hours researching the topic, knowing something about each will definitely help you help yourself.

Sleepy implies “Leave me alone for just a few minutes, and I’m asleep.” Fatigued implies “Leave me alone for just a few minutes, and I wish I had more energy, felt better, and my muscles and bones didn’t ache or hurt so much.” Tired implies “Leave me alone for just a few minutes, and I’ll probably ask that you leave me alone for a few more.”

Tired and fatigued don’t always mean sleepy. If you had to choose just one word that best describes you most of the time, what would it be? One word. One thing. If you could fix THAT, what would it be? I am a dentist, but I’m devoted to treating the snoring and sleep apnea patients of the world with Mandibular Repositioning Devices. My patients usually describe themselves as sleepy, but in the same breath, many of them also say they are fatigued and tired. Do you snore? Are you sleepy? Have you had a sleep test to look at whether or not your airway is closing down at night while you sleep? If not, then I would suggest you start the process immediately to get a test done. You don’t have to go to a sleep lab to get this done; many patients now do sleep testing in the comfort of their own home, just hooking up a couple of wires.

If you are the sleepy patient: Get a sleep test to figure out whether or not you have sleep apnea. If you do, then consider your treatment options (dental device therapy, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), or surgery) carefully and seek out a competent health care practitioner to figure out which treatment is best for you.

In addition, consider other “sleep hygiene” recommendations, such as:

  • Get to bed on time and allow enough time for sleep
  • Leave yourself time to unwind
  • Don’t check emails or work schedules right before you hit the pillow
  • Use your bed for sleep and sex only
  • Cut off caffeine by early afternoon
  • Limit alcohol intake, cut off by after dinner
  • Don’t eat big meals late in the evening

If tired and fatigued more accurately describe how you feel, I would still recommend a sleep test to rule out sleep apnea. In addition, you will want to work with your PCP to evaluate your levels of testosterone, thyroid, iron, and Vitamin D. Then discuss the test results with your physician.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, muscle aches and pains, depression, even some cancers, among other things. The best way to get Vitamin D is sunshine! Get outdoors and get some sun on your skin (not too much now, skin cancer….) additionally, you can buy supplements OTC at your local pharmacy or grocery store. Persons at higher risk for Vitamin D deficiency: dark skin, obesity.

Low thyroid or hypothyroidism has been linked to many things, including feeling tired, weight gain, poor memory and concentration, and an inability to tolerate cold. You will need a blood test to determine your thyroid levels, and if low, your doctor will prescribe some form of levothyroxine (generic name). Fill the script; take it every morning, twenty minutes before you eat anything, and you will feel better.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. You need iron to help your blood carry oxygen to your cells. Too little iron causes anemia, and has been linked to feeling tired, fatigued, dizziness, hair loss, and even restless leg syndrome. You can get iron supplements at the same places you get your Vitamin D.

If you watch TV at all, then likely you have seen the many commercials out there for testosterone replacement therapies. There are even clinics popping up all over the U.S. devoted to treating fatigue, libido, and muscle mass enhancement through testosterone therapy. Work with reputable medical professionals and weigh your options carefully.

In the end, we are all tired, all fatigued, and all sleepy at times—sometimes we are all of these at the same time. The elephant in the room, for most of us, most of the time, is sleep apnea, and a major symptom of sleep apnea is Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). That’s what I do as a dentist; treat sleep apnea and snoring with oral appliances. My dental device will help keep your airway open when you are sleeping, and this will help you oxygenate, sleep, and rest better.

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