Why are we so tired? Something we hear daily is “I’m so tired and when I get home I just want to sleep.” It has been reported that nearly 2.5 million Americans suffer from chronic fatigue, a number that could be much higher considering 90% of chronic fatigue cases go undiagnosed (Alvarez, 2017). There may be no direct answer to this epidemic, but there are some questions you can ask yourself and also your doctor that will help you get the rest you need at night so that you can have the energy you need to enjoy your days.
A Gallup poll in 2013 found that 40% of Americans are not getting the minimum seven hours of recommended sleep each night (JM, 2013). When we sleep, the brain goes into active rest. During this time the brain becomes stronger by strengthening synapses (Tononi G, 2014). Without getting too technical, synapses are the communication highway for the nervous system. Weak synapses lead to loss in memory and brain fog. Studies show that sleep also benefits your ability to learn and perform different motor skills (Tucker MA, 2017).
Turning off your television and putting down your smart phone before you get into bed can help your sleep quality. Studies show that the light emitted by your cell phone significantly decreases your feeling of sleepiness, delays melatonin and increases body temperature (Heo, 2017).
So, you get it…sleep is important, but for some, they feel like they get plenty of sleep and maybe they would say all they do is sleep, but, they are still tired! What then? That is when we need to look at how your body is handling your diet.
In my last post, I talked about how sugar can affect our immune system and not to beat a dead horse, but it plays a role on how well our brain functions too. Yes, the brain does need glucose (which is sugar broken down in the body) to work properly, but too much sugar (glucose) can be a culprit in chronic fatigue. When you eat sugar and glucose rises in your blood, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that signals your cells to let the glucose come into the cell and out of your blood. So, after you eat, your blood sugar (glucose) increases for 2-3 hours and then should decrease as your cells are able to take in and utilize the glucose.
Cells reach a point when there is too much glucose and they become insulin resistant. This means the cells are no longer able to recognize insulin and the glucose stays in the blood thus driving blood glucose levels up. The longer the blood glucose remains high, the more insulin is released and our cells become less and less likely to recognize the insulin. This makes us more susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes. What does Type 2 Diabetes have to do with our brain? Insulin is vital in the central nervous system to help us in learning and in memory function (Kim, 2015). There is a direct link between insulin resistance and cognitive impairment leading to Alzheimer’s (Biessels, 2015). The primary hypothesis for how Alzheimer’s develops has been lesions in the brain caused by neuro-inflammation, but now there are numerous studies that suggest Alzheimer’s is caused by the brain’s inability to utilize sugar due to insulin resistance. This has led Alzheimer’s to be deemed Type 3 Diabetes (Suzanne, 2014).
So far we have talked about two main drivers in chronic fatigue; sleep and a high sugar diet. In my next post we continue talking about chronic fatigue and how it relates to vitamin D, adrenal fatigue and the thyroid. Until then, if you have any questions or would like a consult, contact us at Jeurink Family Chiropractic and Wellness.
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