Fatigue and Exhaustion Solutions
How to Deal With Tiredness Related to Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
For some hypothyroid patients, even when levels are normal after treatment, exhaustion continues. I get hundreds of emails a week from readers who are complaining that they are just plain exhausted, despite being treated for their thyroid disease, asking WHEN will they get their energy back?
Many doctors will tell you that the fatigue will be relieved by thyroid hormone replacement, and for some people, it is. But when you're STILL exhuasted after you've given it enough time to get your levels back to normal, AND you've investigated whether you are undertreated, then it's time to look into the first line of attack -- are you getting enough sleep?
Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
"The survey findings are a source of great concern," warned Thomas Roth, Ph.D., Health and Scientific Advisor of the National Sleep Foundation and director of the Sleep Disorders Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. "People have no idea how important sleep is to their lives. Most of us need eight hours of sound sleep to function at our best, and good health demands good sleep. Conversely, lack of sleep and sleep problems have serious, often life-threatening consequences. This is a case where what we don't know can harm us -- and harm those around us."
I am one of those people who does NOT do well on less than 7 1/2 to 8 hours. But just with the general business of living (and particularly, with a small child) getting that much sleep is a luxury I've rarely enjoyed in many years. I keep wanting to blame my thyroid, but after a few nights when I actually get 8 or more hours and feel much much better and more energetic, I've realized that, to a large extent, my problem is sleep deprivation, compounded by a slightly increased general need for more sleep due to the thyroid problem, even if it is treated. So if I usually needed 7 1/2 -8 hours, and my thyroid disease adds a bit more of a need, let's say a half hour to an hour a night, that's 8-8 1/2 hours, and if I'm getting 6-7, then I'm pretty sleep deprived.
Natural Energy Boosters
In the process of writing my book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know, I had the opportunity to interview herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation. I asked her what, as a person with hypothyroidism, I should reach for when I'm just completely out of steam, and am ready for a giant double espresso in order to make it through the day. Mindy, said, unquestionably, mate tea. Mate, pronounced, "mah-tay," is an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery. On the scale of bad to good, coffee should be your last choice, followed by black tea, then green tea, with mate being the best option. I have to say, mate is quite good, and it does energize you, without a caffeine buzz. Another tea I've found quite good is Celestial Seasonings Ginseng Tea, which you can find at your local supermarket.
Body work and Energy Work , such as yoga, tai chi, qigong (pronounced chee-gung), and Reiki, can all help in adding and balancing energy. In qigong, tai chi, and yoga, gentle movements are used to move energy along the energy pathways of the body. In Reiki, a practitioner helps open up energy channels. (Personally, I've found yoga and Reiki to be most beneficial to my energy.)
Thyroid Disease and Sleep Apnea
There is also a relationship between an increased incidence of sleep apnea (brief periods when you stop breathing while sleeping) and hypothyroidism. Frequent apnea can also cause unrelieved exhaustion. Apnea is often also seen in conjunction with snoring.
When Fatigue is Chronic
All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new treatment program. Please see our full disclaimer.