Feeling extremely tired all the time – the main symptom

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Feeling Extremely Tired All The Time – Acknowledge You Are Ill!

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has developed and you are feeling extremely tired all the time. Fatigue is the main symptom marking this illness. It is important to recognize that you DO have an illness, but to also maintain a positive outlook knowing that you can recover.

Until recently there was some stigma attached to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Years ago it was referred to as “Yuppy Flu” and people were accused of just being lazy and unmotivated, or making an excuse not to work hard.

Lacking motivation to begin an activity, or feeling fatigued shortly after you begin, can lead to feelings of frustration with yourself. Your mindset in acknowledging this as an illness and not falling into thinking patterns such as “what’s wrong with me, I need to get motivated” or “I’m just being lazy” is an important step to your recovery.

Constantly trying to push yourself when your energy reserves are in a depleted state will only worsen the situation.

feeling extremely tired all the time

Outwardly you may still be able to function semi normally and most people will think that you are OK. Only you will know that you are feeling extremely tired all the time and are not able to function normally 100% of the time.

Your social life will be in decline and possibly your work life too as you struggle with inadequate mental and physical energy to do everything you normally do.

Why you don’t have enough energy

One of the reasons you don’t have enough energy and are feeling extremely tired all the time is that you may have a sleep deficit caused by your inability to stay asleep throughout the entire night.

As your adrenal function is disrupted and cortisol spikes at inappropriate times, it causes a change in the normal energy rhythms of your body.

Waking regularly at around 3am, too wired to return to sleep, results in regularly having only four or five hours sleep a night and eventually this pattern of not getting enough sleep takes its toll on your body.

Learn more about adrenal fatigue here.

feeling extremely tired all the time

Some nutritional supplements that can help support adrenal function include Vitamin C and Vitamin B5.

You are exhausted at a cellular level and your mitochondrial function could be impaired.  This means that your body simply cannot produce enough energy to get you through a normal day’s activity. It is important to manage your activities and ensure you are not pushing yourself beyond your body’s available energy reserves.

Co enzyme Q10 is used for energy production by every cell in your body and may be useful. Another supplement that can be helpful for impaired cellular energy metabolism is D-Ribose.

Staying Within Your Energy Envelope

There is a consequence to pushing yourself beyond your body’s energy reserve. It is known as “post exertional fatigue” and can last 24 hours or more.

It is vitally important to learn what your personal energy limits are and not keep pushing yourself. On a cellular level your body simply cannot produce the energy you need.

Post exertional fatigue can mean that in order to re coup your energy to almost functional levels you will need to rest or stay in bed for a day or maybe longer. If you keep pushing yourself beyond your limit you will be on a constant roller coaster between feeling almost normal then crashing and having to stay in bed to recuperate.

To avoid these energy crashes you need to stay within your ‘energy envelope’.

 feeling extremely tired all the time

Think of an energy envelope as having the following elements:

  • Available Energy – It is limited depending on your current condition, and you replenish it with food and rest.
  • Expended Energy – This is the energy your body uses through physical, mental and emotional exertion.
  • Energy used by your symptoms – Fatigue, body aches and pains, brain fog etc.

Once you start to understand the concept of the energy envelope and recognize what your limits are, it will become easier to stay within the limits of your energy availability.

In this way you can reduce your symptoms and the number of energy crashes you have. Finally you can get off the constant roller coaster.

As you begin to recover and your symptoms decrease you may be able to slowly expend more energy whilst still staying within your personal energy envelope.

It is a very slow and gradual process as you are on the road to recovery. Be patient and work with your body in it’s current condition.


Exercise – What Form Should It Take?

Depending on how far you have progressed in to your illness you may not be able to exercise at all. You may be almost bedridden and even walking from your bed to the toilet will seriously deplete your energy.

For those of you who are fortunate enough to be able to exercise, you need to stay within your energy envelope with both the type and intensity of exercise you do.

It is important to move your body to keep the circulatory and lymphatic systems moving as this can play a part in helping you towards recovery.

However high energy exercise like running, aerobics, cycling etc., will only deplete your energy further. The high you experience due to the adrenalin spike you get from this type of exercise will make you feel temporarily better,  but will be followed by a crash as you push yourself past your current available energy limits.

feeling extremely tired all the time

Gentle exercise is what you need at this stage. Restorative yoga, thai chi, gentle walking or swimming are some suggestions. Start with only 20 minutes if you can manage it and increase the time gradually if you have no ill effects. Find some simple and effective yoga poses here.

Some people will need to start with only 5 minutes of gentle exercise and gradually increase it as you are able. The important point is to stay within your energy envelope and not be tempted to push too hard.

You’ll know if you have overdone it as you will suffer a crash. Don’t be discouraged, rest up until you recover, then try again and this time aim for a shorter duration.

Putting It All Together

To start down the road to recovery you need to firstly acknowledge that you are ill. The pesky tiredness and fatigue you feel won’t disappear simply with a few good nights sleep.

Managing your energy within your energy envelope is vital to avoid crashes and help your body to recover. Rest when you need to and do not push yourself past your current energy limits.

Some good quality nutritional supplements will help normalize sleep patterns and improve cellular energy.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you might have below.





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  1. Interesting post and thanks for the insights! I didn’t know that it was referred to as ‘Yuppy Flu’ and can definitely understand that it is worsened by thinking negatively.

    I find that exercise is key to balanced energy levels through the day. Like you rightly say, intense exercise will just exhaust you further but doing 30 – 40 minutes of jogging with my heart rate in the aerobic zone is ideal.

    What do you think about diet? I also find that reducing sugar helps very much.

    • Hi Stephen

      Glad you found the post interesting. I agree with you re sugar. My post “How to increase energy naturally” talks a bit about the importance of healthy eating. 

  2. I do feel quite tired at times, and indeed I would attribute the problem to inadequate sleep. Not that I don’t stay in bed for 8 hours – but I do not get that 8 hours of sleep. I can get into bed at 11 pm, fall asleep at 1 am, wake up 2-5 times in the middle of the night, then drag myself out of the bed at 7 am in the morning. People ‘accuse’ me of sleeping late, and there’s nothing I can rebut them because I DO technically sleep at 1 am.

    I have tried consuming vitamins and sleeping pills. They don’t really work for me. Perhaps gentle exercising may help. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Hi Rachel

      I would try to get to sleep by 10pm to give your adrenals adequate rest. My post on “How sleep is essential for good health”  might give you some more information on not only how important sleep is, but also some tips to get a good night’s sleep. 

  3. Hi Ann,

    I really enjoyed your tips on exercise. 20 minutes a day of movement is a great goal to have! I’ve done some light reading on Adrenal Fatigue and this post is the beginning of my reading up on Chronic Fatigue. It seems to me that they both have extremely similar symptoms. Are they the same? Or are they related at all? Since they seem to be so similar, how would one know if they have Adrenal Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue? Thanks!


    • Hi Susie

      Some people with chronic fatigue have an adrenal fatigue component to their illness. In my case I started with adrenal fatigue that developed further into chronic fatigue syndrome as other body systems became involved and my health declined.

      I’ll be writing new posts about how my illness developed further. I hope the information will help you.

  4. This post has come at the right time for me.
    I have had recent episodes of feeling tired – usually in the afternoon.
    I went to my GP and he mentioned that my thyroids were fine.
    However, I was still feeling tired and couldn’t pinpoint what it was down to as I do get enough sleep – I’m in bed by 10 pm and up at 6 am and I always have a light lunch.

    I am now taking vitamin C but also my iron levels were really low – I requested an iron level test from another GP – so I started to take some liquid iron supplement.
    I’m feeling so much better now.

    However, do you think Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a diagnosis that can be picked up by tests from a GP?
    And if so, what tests would I ask for?


    • Hi Jacqueline

      There is no particular test available to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome. However your GP may run tests to rule out any other illnesses. 

      I’m currently writing another post on adrenal fatigue syndrome, which has as one of it’s symptoms, a feeling of fatigue which occurs regularly during mid afternoon. Please check my website in a couple of days.

      I hope you start to feel better soon.

  5. Very good post, but I still can’t call it an illness even if it sounds like it. I do recognize some symptoms but not all of them. Feeling tired most of the time doesn’t feel good. I agree with you that you have to be careful with the exercise and have full respect for energy levels. I find that about 10000 steps per day are fine for me but if I do only 20-30% more I feel like I lost all the benefits of the whole exercise.
    Your recommendation for putting it all together sounds like a good idea.


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