Updated: Jan 21
Almost every single patient that I see comes to me with low energy levels and trouble with either getting to sleep, staying asleep or both! Fatigue and insomnia have become the 'new normal' (see what I did there). There are SO many things that contribute to poor energy and sleep issues however top 5 that I see in my clinic are:-
Stress / Anxiety
Poor nutritional intake and/or poor uptake of nutrients due to gastrointestinal issues
To much caffeine and/or alcohol
Overweight / Obesity
Overuse of technology
All of these affect the biochemical pathways inside your body that are responsible for energy production and healthy nervous system function.
Gut health plays a significant role in most cases. I can't remember the last time I saw a patient who had no issues with their gut. When we don't digest our food well, we don't absorb nutrients well. When our gut is inflamed because of food sensitivities and/or intolerances, poor food choices such as processed foods, sugary beverages, soft drinks, alcohol and caffeine intake, non-organic foods etc - we get leaky gut and things get through the gut wall into the blood that shouldn't be there causing chronic systemic inflammation and even autoimmunity in some patients. This leads to many imbalances that can cause fatigue, not being able to cope as well with stress and anxiety as we otherwise could, and to not be able to make enough of the chemicals that our brain uses to regulate our sleep. Not only that, but poor nutritional intake causes an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut which contributes to being overweight/obese. It's not just overeating that causes this issue like most people think. Many of my overweight / obese patients are actually under-eating yet still cannot budge their weight. And theres so much more I could add to this paragraph but I want to keep this simple for you.
One of the most simple things that you can do to improve your gut health (which will have a knock on effect on your energy levels and sleep) is to cut out all the crap! I am continually amazed when people tell me they eat really healthy, and then we do a dietary review. In 2020 when the 'pandemic' placed us under restrictions on leaving our homes - I remember being in the grocery store and there was nothing on the shelves but the fresh produce area was FULL. This made me so sad. The simple facts are, as a population we have been brainwashed to believe that so many foods are healthy when they are the exact opposite and these foods are damaging our health. Not only that, we have become busier and more stressed but also lazier due to technology making things so accessible. We make excuses for why we are treating our body badly when we subconsciously know they are exactly that - excuses.
Actively implementing stress and anxiety management techniques into your day such as meditation and breathwork is also super helpful. Even if its only for 10 minutes at a time. Reducing the amount of coffee you drink and the time of day you drink it, as well as cutting down or cutting out the booze will have a significant impact. Don't drink coffee after 12pm and limit yourself to 2 cups per day. Don't drink more than 1 standard alcoholic drink per day and try to drink it a couple of hours before bed. Have a set time that you go to bed every night. Get off your phone at least an hour before bedtime. Don't take your phone into the bedroom (get an old school battery powered alarm clock if you need to). Turn off your modem at the wall on your way to bed and put your phone on flight mode. Drink sleepy tea an hour before bed time (I love Yogi Bedtime Tea). Focus on healthier habits and you will be amazed how much better you feel.
But sometimes, there is more to it than the basics already mentioned. Some patients will require a deep dive naturopathic consultation and personalised treatment plan to support them to get their body back into balance, build better health and develop better habits. Things like gut infections are super common and need to be professionally addressed. Insomnia and fatigue that doesn't respond to better lifestyle habits can be treated with herbal medicine and some specific nutritional supplements depending on the patients presentation. Sometimes pathology testing is required to get to the root cause of the problem.
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