Always Being Tired Isn’t Normal—Here’s What It Could Mean

Experiencing more than a random afternoon slump? If you’re one of the many women who suffer from chronic fatigue and brain fog, this is your sign to stop ignoring the issue and labeling yourself as "lazy." More than likely, there’s an imbalance in your system that is crying for attention.

By Anna Hugoboom3 min read
Pexels/Maria Orlova

When I was in high school, I struggled with what I later realized was extreme hormonal and thyroid imbalance, and I had a sensitive stomach (I was diagnosed with Celiac and often had general digestion problems, which affected my energy). When I was a rising sophomore in college, I began having serious digestion issues and chronic fatigue problems, which continually worsened over the next three and a half years. Although off the college food plan, my food habits still weren’t great (too many protein shakes, granola, and raw carrots at some points), and I was running around my senior year with an entirely overloaded schedule. 

I was almost always tired and even looked exhausted and pale. My skin coloring rivaled that of the Twilight vampires, and my once voluminous hair grew thinner. I swung between low blood sugar and nausea where I couldn’t stomach the thought or smell of food. Finally, the fall after graduating – in the midst of a family medical emergency and an extremely stressful teaching job – my gut system crashed with a bad flareup, and I was literally incapacitated on the couch with what turned out to be Crohn’s disease, a blood infection, and possibly a parasitic infection. I wasn’t absorbing the nutrients in my food and had such bad brain fog and exhaustion I couldn’t even drive safely. I got doctor’s orders to quit my job immediately, follow certain dietary guidelines, and get plenty of R&R. Any of that sound familiar?

Root Causes

During my slow but steady healing journey of two and a half years, I’ve often heard of other women’s similar health struggles affecting their daily life, and I realized there is an epidemic of chronic fatigue that is not receiving enough attention, concern, or remedy.

To get to the root of what's going on, you first have to determine if the cause is a lifestyle factor or a condition that is affecting your system’s energy output.

Let’s look at some lifestyle factors that could be the cause of your chronic fatigue. The good news is that lifestyle factors are fairly straightforward fixes; the bad news is that forming new habits can be hard. Do any of these lifestyle factors apply to you?

Lifestyle Factors:

  • Chronic sleep loss and bad sleeping habits.

  • Drug use and/or alcohol (a depressant).

  • Too much physical activity with not enough rest or too little physical activity. 

  • Poor diet choices, especially not eating enough protein.

  • Eating an excessive amount of processed sugar and carbs (which causes blood sugar to drop and energy crashes), especially for breakfast

  • Chronically over-consuming coffee, or even just the common “coffee addiction” of drinking it multiple times per day. (Caffeine actually spikes your cortisol, makes your system dependent on it as an artificial stimulant, and then causes energy dips and weakens your adrenals.)

  • Taking antidepressants, since fatigue and drowsiness are common side effects.

  • Taking birth control, which negatively affects your hormones and may contribute to low energy.

  • Consistent consumption of over-the-counter NSAID medication (Advil/Ibuprofen/Tylenol). NSAIDs attack your mitochondria, reducing the cells’ ability to produce energy. They also tax the liver and increase the risk of heart disease (they literally kill cardiac cells and reduce cardiac viability). 

Now, let’s turn to some more serious health conditions that can cause chronic fatigue. Some of these can be addressed with lifestyle changes, but some will need medical assistance to fully resolve. Bring this list to your doctor as you investigate the cause of your fatigue.


  • Mineral deficiencies – magnesium and iron contribute to healthy energy production.

  • Digestion issues – indigestion, IBS, leaky gut, and colitis are all very physically draining and can also cause brain fog and mineral deficiencies along with inhibited nutrition absorption.

  • Anemia – where your body doesn’t get enough oxygen due to the lack of red blood cells.

  • Autoimmune disorders/diseases – Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, etc.

  • Hypothyroidism – low thyroid hormones basically equals low energy and low metabolism.

  • Diabetes, prediabetes – watch your diet and sleep, especially if diabetes runs in your family.

  • Sleep issues – insomnia, sleep apnea.

  • Adrenal fatigue/exhaustion – stress, caffeine, and insufficient sleep all tax the adrenals.

  • Parasites – these guys wreck your system and can put quite a boycott on energy levels.

  • Obesity – when you’re overweight, your body has to work harder to carry around more weight, and obesity negatively affects organ function and circulation efficiency.

  • Hormonal Disruption – hormonal imbalance such as endometriosis and PCOS can cause low energy, and low hormonal levels are like a bomb to healthy energy output.

What To Do?

If you know the cause is a lifestyle factor, it’s an easy fix once you decide to take the bull by the horns and correct the bad habit. Here are some ideas on how to do just that:

  • Swap to mocktails and tea lattes over alcohol and caffeine.

  • Drink Zevia instead of soda.

  • Start your day with substantial protein and some moderate exercise.

  • Set a sleep schedule for yourself and actually stick to it, at least for the majority of the week.

  • If you’re taking antidepressants, try taking a walk to wake up your system and get your circulation moving in the morning and, if you can, take a brief nap later on if needed. If you’re used to taking NSAIDs for health issues or period pain, check out some natural solutions to try instead. 

If you struggle with a more serious health condition, consult a doctor about treatment and health practices to help minimize the tax on your energy and system functioning.

  • Make sure you’re ingesting all the important vitamins and minerals. To find out if you're currently deficient in anything, you can request a full blood work panel through your doctor or an Endocrinologist.

  • Eat foods high in iron and magnesium. When was the last time you ate steak or beets?

  • If you experience stomach issues, eat foods that help fight bloating and take probiotics every day (apple cider vinegar also helps digestion). Cut out fried foods, processed sugar and breads, and harsh fiber like brown rice, fruit skins, and cruciferous veggies. Chew your food well and slowly.

  • I experienced tremendous benefit from taking chromium and spirulina in the morning to stabilize my blood sugar and regulate my thyroid function.

  • Check your blood type to see if you’re eating the right foods for your system (or maybe eating the wrong ones). Dietary sensitivities and allergies often correspond to “avoid” foods on your blood type diet.

  • Get lab work done to see if you’re low on any hormones, and eat foods that support healthy hormones, especially those foods for the different phases of your cycle.

  • Get enough quality rest!

Closing Thoughts 

You shouldn’t feel tired all the time, unless it’s a normal result of a life situation such as being a new mother. Especially now when we have a world of knowledge and information at our fingertips with the advances of modern technology, wouldn’t it seem like a waste to not take advantage of it to feel our best?

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