In the theatre of life a lot is yet to be explained. For Jane Wairimu, it is the unexplained and frequent exhaustion that pelts her distraught figure.
Despite resting for two days every week before resuming work on Mondays, Jane is one among many working class citizens who keep asking themselves: “Isn’t the rest I am receiving good enough to rejuvenate my body?”
According to Dr. John Ong’ech, a reproductive health specialist at Kenyatta National Hospital, feeling tired is part of the human condition.
“We all work. The end result is the fruits of our labour and the ‘worn out’ feeling,” he says. However, he agrees that if being tired remains constant for a long time, refusing to dissipate even after rest and unwinding, there could be an underlying problem. What could it be?
1 Obesity and overweight
Excess weight is a major contributor in the body feeling tired. According to Ong’ech, too much fat interferes with the process of metabolism. Weight may cause certain faculties to ‘switch off’, making one feel exhausted.
“Being overweight or obese pushes the body to perform extra work. The heart has added work to pump blood and the lungs have to take in enough air to serve the whole body. When these systems are overworked, the feeling is generally tired,” he says.
It is imperative that everyone maintains a body size within the right BMI ranges to avoid the body feeling lethargic.
2 Lack of physical exercise
The human body is supposed to feel action throughout. In fact, it is the process of physical activity that provokes the formation of muscles and tendons, which are very important in functionality. Chicky Onwuke is a fitness instructor with Kuruka Fitness, a group that advocates for physical activities with the aim of being healthy.
“If your body is not used to working, you get tired faster than another person who maintains an active life.” She says.
“Not exercising regularly, while eating, is a recipe for growing overweight. This is because the food you eat is converted to fat because the body has no channels of getting rid of the calories. The results would be a tired body. Obesity would also lead to other complications.”
3 You are not eating right
According to Kepha Nyanumba, a consultant nutritionist, many modern nutritional preferences are not healthy. A high intake of fast foods (junk food), refined sugars found in processed beverages, candy and processed snacks, and white flour results not only in higher fat storage in your body but also a deficiency of vital nutrients.
He says: “High energy foods fill you up quickly. Right after eating them, there is a flush of energy in the system as the glucose is quickly assimilated. However, in a few hours, you feel hungry since the glucose has either been depleted or converted to fat. It is a vicious cycle that renders one obese and inefficient at work.”
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Kepha says that a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean meats, and whole-grain foods such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta provides more sustainable energy levels.
4 A sign of an underlying problem
According to Dr. Esther Wanjohi, a medical practitioner, if a person (especially a woman) experiences frequent and unexplained dip in energy levels, it would be imperative that they visit a doctor for extensive tests.
This is because therein could be a deadly illness that may be slowly consuming the body towards death.
“It may be an illness like kidney failure or diabetes that is yet to be diagnosed,” she points out. “In other instances, there could be an imbalance of hormones: this is especially critical for women. They experience far more hormonal changes than men do. A problem in the hormones could mean one is suffering from a condition.”
5 Stress and depression
Stress, in the right levels, is not bad for health, says Dr. Lincoln Khasakhala, a clinical psychologist. However, a mind plagued by constant and abnormal levels of stress causes a quick depreciation into sickness.
He says that depression, which often manifests as hopelessness, causes chemical imbalance in the brain, something that interferes with both the cognitive process as well as the body’s ability to maintain health.
“Stress and depression contribute to diabetes, hypertension, development of flu and headaches. These conditions sap energy out of the mind, which controls the rest of the body. If the mind is tired (or is experiencing pressure) then the body feels weak too,” he comments.
According to Lincoln, people who are constantly depressed are likely to over eat and over sleep, which eventually leads to obesity. Weight matters, opens into a plethora of other conditions which affect one’s health.
6 You are juggling too much
Picture a working mother of two who has to be at home early to attend to her children. The same person owns a business, which needs her to review at the end of the week. She is pursuing a Master’s degree and has to attend classes three times a week in the evening.
If she is religious and has friends, she may need to attend church on Sunday and engage friends in a chitchat. Back at home, her husband may be waiting for a night of explosive love making.
In the opinion of Catherine Mbau, a counselling psychologist, such a lady is under “serious duress.”
She says: “The brain can only handle so much. When one finds herself in a maze of responsibilities, she has no time to fully rest. Rest is for both the mind and the body. If they are not able to relax, their body is not able to rejuvenate. Often, such individuals will abruptly lose consciousness. If the brain has to process so much at the same time, it shuts down, and so does the body.”
7 Lack of sleep
A study published in the journal ‘Obesity’ indicates that lack of sleep causes tiredness. Scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden, found that poor or no sleep resulted in raised levels of a hormone that is linked to both hunger and the feeling of tiredness.
Dr. Kizito Lubano of Kemri corroborates these findings, saying: “Lack of enough shut-eye keeps the brain on an active trend. But this attempt to keep awake can only go on for so long. The body starts feeling weary with time.
This is because the body rejuvenates during sleep. While one is asleep, dead and overworked cells of the brain are replaced. Even tissues of the body are repaired. Without sleep, the body remains in the same miserable state hence the constant lethargy.”