What is it?

Everyone feels tired at certain times and tiredness is often a normal, unavoidable part of everyday life. It is estimated that at any given time one in five of us will feel unusually tired, one in ten will be suffering from prolonged fatigue and more women than men will be suffering from it (Royal College of Psychiatrists). It might be a common problem, but it’s a serious one. Prolonged tiredness can be debilitating, and depressing and interfere with our daily lives.

What can cause tiredness?


Going to bed late, getting up early and having nights of broken sleep can make you feel exhausted. Working long hard hours, going out too much, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, working shifts, and generally expending more energy than you have will cause tiredness. There are times in our lives when we are more likely to be tired (recovering from illness, becoming parents and having young children, when we’re teenagers)

Physical Illness

Tiredness can also be a marker for underlying illness; a lack of iron, hypothyroidism and diabetes are all conditions that can cause symptoms of tiredness. If your tiredness is combined with other symptoms (heavy periods, weight loss, a change in bowel habits, hair loss, extreme thirst) or if your symptoms have been going on for a long time despite rest,  see your GP.


Worry, stress, depression and anxiety can make you feel tired, plus they are all causes of lack of sleep in themselves, hence a vicious circle of exhaustion can quickly take hold.

What can be done?

Visit your doctor

A check-up to rule out underlying physical illness is important.  Ask for blood tests to check your iron levels, your Vit B and Vit D levels and your thyroid. Keep a record of how long you have had your symptoms and explain that despite rest you are still suffering from exhaustion.

Check your diet

High glycaemic foods (processed foods) cause peaks and then troughs in blood sugar levels and leave people feeling tired after eating them. Foods to avoid include anything with sugar, crisps, white bread and pastries, fizzy drinks, and sugary cereals. Foods which have a slow release of sugars will keep energy levels much more even. These include oats, wholemeal pasta, bread and rice and potatoes.

Reduce your caffeine intake

Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks all contain caffeine and, like sugar, can give you an initial hit and burst of energy but once that has gone it can leave you feeling tired and exhausted. If you can’t go without limit yourself to one or two a day, preferable before noon.  Try starting your day with hot water and lemon before you hit the caffeine fix.  This will aid digestion and flush out toxins from your body and give your body a better more energised start to the day.

Get more sleep.

A lack of sleep is both physically and mentally exhausting and can lead to

  • a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
  • an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
  • Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety
  • A decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information

It is estimated that on average adults need between 6 and 9 hours a night. If you feel refreshed and are able to function efficiently the next day then you are getting enough. If you’re not then you probably need more. The easiest way to get more sleep is to make it a priority in your life, stop doing other things and go to bed early. This is especially important for people with children who are waking through the night. Going to bed earlier is one of the best ways to survive those endless broken nights! Forgo the television and the box set and if necessary put your children to bed and go to bed soon after yourself. Ok, it’s not ideal and it’s boring and you feel like you have no life but if you have sleep you’re much better able to cope through the day.

Get a little exercise

Often the last thing you feel like doing when you’re knackered but some light exercise might help to recharge you. A ten-minute walk will help increase your blood flow and get your heart rate up, getting more energy around your body, and making you feel more energetic.

Drink more water

Lack of fluids can make you feel fatigued. The European Food Safety Authority recommends women should drink 1.6 litres of fluid and men 2.0 litres ( this will vary depending on temp and activity). So that’s nearly 3-pint glasses for women and 3 and a half for men. Water is always the best!

Time for yourself

Take some time out of your busy life for yourself.  Organise weekly restoration time for yourself. Yoga, qi gong, a massage, acupuncture, meditation and taking a bath are all great ways to restore your energy and also to aid better sleep.

For more information on using acupuncture to combat tiredness see www.hannahpearn.com, 07761648441, hello@hannahpearn.com