5 common reasons for afternoon fatigue

5 common reasons for afternoon fatigue

We have a saying at BioLounge, "Just because it's common, doesn't mean it's normal" and this holds true for afternoon fatigue.  Many people experience a lull after lunch which can last up to 3-4 hours driving cravings for caffeine and simple carbs for a pick-me up.  And while this symptom is common in our culture, it's not normal and it can be a sign of health issues brewing under the surface. 

Check out the top 5 reasons our patients are experiencing afternoon fatigue:

1. Blood sugar imbalance

Swings in blood sugar, even when average blood sugar (HbA1c) is normal, can lead to debilitating afternoon fatigue.  Surprisingly, a spike in blood glucose levels after lunch is linked to feeling tired, while the subsequent drop in glucose levels is linked to "hangry" feelings which may prompt you to go searching for a carb-laden snack.  Tracking blood sugar has become a nutrition trend, and for good reason.  Understanding the foods that keep glucose levels steady can lead to big energy boosts.

2. Low iron

While low iron can affect men, this is largely a risk we see affecting countless women between 13-50.  Inadequate iron intake, poor absorption, and blood loss through menstruation are common causes of low iron.  That said, many people are not being screened or treated properly for this widespread condition.  Testing ferritin is the most effective was to assess iron stores and a healthy and sustainable level is at least 70 ng/mL.  It should be said, that while this is much less common, too much iron can also cause problems.  Ferritin levels over 200 ng/mL may indicate inflammation and/or too much iron storage and should be assessed by your provider.

3. Sleep apnea

Even mild sleep disturbances can lead to fatigue, but sleep apnea is an all-too-common cause of chronic feelings of daytime sleepiness.  This is not only due to poor sleep quality and consistent interruptions, but oxygen deprivation associated with apnea.  Aside from daytime sleepiness; snoring, waking with a dry mouth or headache, insomnia and waking regularly throughout the night are other symptoms that signal you may have a problem with sleep apnea.  This should be assessed by a qualified sleep doctor and treated appropriately while identifying your risk factors and working to improve them.

4. Low vitamin C

While not as commonly thought of for fatigue, vitamin C deficiency is linked to low energy.  In fact, research shows that fatigue is one of the first symptoms linked to inadequate levels of vitamin C and may account for poor recovery from injury, illness or stressors.  Daily intake of dietary vitamin C may not be enough to compensate for current demands on our bodies and strong evidence shows that alongside a plant-heavy diet, taking a minimum of 1000mg vitamin C daily can prevent severe deficiency.

5. Food sensitivities

One of the most consistent improvements our patients report after removing food sensitivities is a huge energy boost.  This is because when the immune system is triggered day after day by food proteins it has deemed "dangerous", it responds with inflammation much like it would when healing from illness or injury.  This perpetual triggering of immune activation leads to feelings of being run down, so when those foods come out of the diet, energy can be restored and additional benefits are normally felt as well!

If you're suffering from regular feelings of fatigue or low energy, don't ignore it!  Your body is telling you something.  As we said,

Just because it's common, doesn't mean it's normal

We're here to help you identify your unique triggers of fatigue and help you restore optimal energy!