Low Energy: is it poor sleep or... something else?

 Apr 24, 2018 9:00 AM

This post is not about various forms and causes of insomnia - a practically epidemic and important issue that deserves a post all on its own.

This is about OTHER causes of fatigue that so very often are not discovered in a conventional medical work up, and which I encounter frequently in clinic. I’d venture that about 40-50% of my patients have fatigue at the top of their hit list.

A recent survey conducted by the Conference Board of Canada showed that nearly one third of Canadian workers feel tired throughout the day. The report that accompanied the survey confirmed that constant fatigue has a dramatic effect on a person's daytime productivity and their overall health. Well indeed!! Of course it does.

While many studies have tackled the issue of fatigue, the Conference Board of Canada survey is great for two reasons: it paints an accurate picture of the state of fatigue amongst Canadians and it does a great job in explaining how it affects our productivity and health.

You don’t sleep, you don’t recover, your immune system can’t do its surveillance and repair, you slowly gain weight, lose cognitive short: you are “battery low”, as my five year old son would say. It becomes a serious health issue when compounded over time.

So, do you often feel tired even after having slept well?

What in the heck is causing this fatigue?

Unsurprisingly, the survey doesn't fully answer WHAT is causing this growing feeling of tiredness amongst Canadians.

To be clear, today I’m writing about fatigue, not sleepiness - which is the result of not getting enough sleep. Fatigue is something else entirely.

Individuals who deal with fatigue often feel tired, weak and unmotivated, and have issues with memory and productivity. They also tend to want to stay away from social situations, avoid making commitments (for fear of breaking them) and struggle to get through normal daily activities.

Commonly, people with fatigue feel tired all the time but actually have a really tough time falling asleep.

Fatigue can be a symptom of chronic infection, hormonal imbalances, stress, inability to clear toxins, allergies, or lowered immune function. It is also a common symptom in a number of other illnesses such as:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Celiac disease
  • Menopause
  • Andropause
  • Perimenopause
  • Dysbiosis
  • Anemia
  • Lyme disease
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Sub-optimal adrenal function / “adrenal fatigue”
  • Obesity
  • Mononucleosis (aka “Mono”) or other viruses
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or Hashimoto's
  • Mold exposure
  • Chemical sensitivity/ toxic burden
  • Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Being tired all the time can dramatically affect your life

Apart from feeling run down, there can be some other significant risks. Your focus and performance decreases and your chances of being in an accident increases. You risk developing mental health issues like depression, anxiety or substance abuse. Chronic fatigue can also lead to various serious conditions such as stroke, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Why See an ND if you have fatigue?

Because we actually take the time to diagnose the root cause, delve deeply into the physiology participating in the imbalance, and are excellent at sorting through which labs are logical for YOU after taking a detailed history of your case and all corroborating factors. Additionally, and also importantly, because when required we go beyond regular blood work with various useful types of functional testing that can help illuminate what is going on. Good examples of these types of testing are adrenal health salivary panels or stool tests looking at your gut microbiome.

Whether you suffer from insomnia and are sleepy or are suffering from fatigue, I am offering a complimentary 15 minute consult to review your unique situation, see if my approach to practicing medicine is a fit for you, and for me to establish if I am able to help. To book this consultation please call my reception staff at 416.929.0707 or email them at

Dr. Smith



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