Constant tiredness - what can help?

Stay healthy | 2019

Prof. Dr. Werner Seebauer is Dean of Studies – Association of German Preventologists, Head of Preventive Medicine Department of Institute of Transcultural Health Sciences (European University Viadrina) and Head of Preventive Medicine – NESA (The New European Surgical Academy). Since 2000, prof. dr. Werner Seebauer worked only in preventive medicine, after ten years spent at the Frankfurt University Hospital. He is also involved in the medical professionals training for nutrition and prevention.

MediHelp International contributes to the medical science development and is actively involved in the international social responsibility advocacy.

Increased tiredness is associated with reduced regeneration systems in the organism. The most direct connection is with insufficient or bad sleep, but it can also be chronic illnesses as well as poor energy production or micronutrient utilization from the diet. The calorie intake does not necessarily matter, because the mitochondria in our cells where the energy is produced can starve to "full pots" if they are lacking sufficient doses of certain nutrients (mostly micronutrients and trace elements). Links with iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia were described in the last newsletter.

Stress or even bad weather and lack of light as in the winter time also can promote an increased fatigue. Concerning the lack of light, you have to point out that this sword is double-edged, because the late into the evening lighting with bright light and especially with blue light sources (e.g. monitors, smartphones, etc.) disturb the formation of melatonin in the brain, which is important for a restful deep sleep.

Various other causes may be present, so that more and more relationships should be considered differentiated if a cause is not clearly obvious and there is chronic fatigue and exhaustion. This newsletter is not about the differential diagnosis of illnesses as the cause, but about other factors that you personally can handle well.


That could help against fatigue

Move plenty in the fresh air (preferably in the forest or in a park, if possible, on a coast or in the mountains). Schedule several units of physical activity of each about at least 15 minutes into your daily routine (for example, taking a stroll, fast walking, etc.). When you are tired and exhausted, slow and adequately structured training is beneficial over various risk factors.

Be careful not to fall into the sofa trap or into a vicious cycle, as lack of physical activity over time fosters rapid fatigue and significant performance degradation.

Be aware of some walking tracks, e.g. on the way to work (park your car further away, get off the tram or bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest, etc.). It is best to plan at least 10-15-minute walks (fast walking) after each meal. Plan some longer forest walks in your weekly schedule for week plan and in any case even more exercise activities during your holiday.

Also, moderate sun contact has a positive effect. While too much sun tears, moderate sun contacts and the bright season in late spring and summer have a positive effect on the mind and alertness.

Drink plenty of mineral water throughout the day. In humans with about 75 kg are in "normal" circumstances at least about 2 liters advisable. In hot temperatures and sports, as well as other situations that require a higher loss of perspiration, it certainly requires significantly more hydration. The dehydration and poor sleep combined increases fatigue.

Coffee and tea can help

The caffeine in coffee develops its effect faster (after about 15 to 30 minutes); in tea, the effect of the thein (the caffeine in tea) begins later and then last longer. Depending on the type of tea, the content of thein varies: young parts of the plant (buds and young small leaves) have significantly more caffeine or thein than older parts of plants (older leaves and stems); and the first picking has significantly more tea than the second picking. Also, shaded teas (e.g., Matcha) have more caffeine than unshaded plants (e.g., Sencha).

The thein or caffeine content in the tea depends on the water temperature and the brewing time. Usually a longer brewing time causes higher thein content in the tea. A first extract of an intensely brewed black tea can be far more exciting than the repeated brew of Matcha or Sencha teas.

The statements on tea package "after brewing time of two to three minutes stimulating, calming down after five minutes" - are justified by an increase of tannins with prolonged brewing time, but the tannins cannot be absorbed and can be at best “calming” on the gastrointestinal tract. The slowing caffeine intake from tea may not be so stimulating, but not calming.

Test whether you need coffee or tea immediately after getting up, or whether the effect is better if you are already awake for 1-2 hours before you drink it. There are studies that have shown that the effects could be better when cortisone serum levels are lower in the context of circadian rhythms depending on one's own cortisone formation.

The biorhythm of man is individually different. Roughly you can distinguish the larks (people who are fit early in the morning) and the owls (late in the day or more active people at night). Here it makes sense to consider the biorhythm, and to adjust your daily routine, if that works.

Do not consume caffeine too late in the day, because it can affect your sleep, even if you do not have difficulty falling asleep. Analyzes show that caffeine levels remain high until late in the evening or night, when coffee, tea or coke was drunk in the afternoon. Metabolism is inhibited by methylxanthines, and the more and late caffeine is consumed, the slower it is broken down.


Short and effective recovery periods are known from meditation and various relaxation procedures. Short superficial sleep phases - power-napping - can be trained to provide effective recovery within a few minutes (approximately 10-15 minutes). This requires training and works for some people after already a few training sessions.

Find a quiet and relaxing place where you can lie down or lie back and try to look after your breathing. Do not think about anything else and only pay attention to the relaxed, quiet inhaling and exhaling; let your body sink in a more relaxed way onto the surface and do not move your arms and legs; Let the face relax too (leave the jaw and mouth loose). For some, a sound recording, from birdsong in the forest, or a gently babbling brook helps. Set a timer clock that will "wake you up" after 15-20 minutes so you do not fall asleep, because awakening so quickly from the deeper sleep will make you feel even more tired and unbalanced. When its rings, you must open your eyes right away and really get up or mobilize yourself with some stretching. At morning in bed stretching of the arms and legs also helps with getting better awake!

Practice the Power-Napping regularly. It will then become easier and more effective.

Optimize night sleep

"Anything that robs you of sleep, the disease brings back to you." (Dr. Karl Pelzer)


It would be important for awake-keeping minds to reduce their activity without pressure, because the pressure and the stress or the awareness, you would have now only so little time to get up, probably still hold you in the stress loop.

Try to break the circle of thoughts with other pictures and simple formulas. The more boring the formula is, the better you'll probably tire and sleep. You can create such a formula yourself based on your experience. According to the principle "counting sheeps". For example, in your mind you just keep saying, "Now I think that - now I think - is the last sentence is what I think" and that you think repeatedly mantra-like (prayer-like) until the original thought-rice is broken.

Also, could help a thought trip to a place where you had absolute peace and serenity (for example, looking out to sea at a cliff and only hearing the wind).

There are various relaxation rituals that can help (listening to quiet relaxing music, taking a walk, meditating, etc.). Test and find your method.

In case of persistent sleep disturbance, it may also be helpful if you do not spend more than 30 minutes lying forcibly and always have the same thoughts. Get up and read a bit in dim yellow light or do a few relaxing exercises in the dark or at most in low light. You should not sit back at a computer monitor or a smartphone.

In the late afternoon or evening you should avoid errands that could upset you. Stressful and annoying things are best done in the first half of the day.

Avoid disturbing light sources, which penetrate into the bedroom and avoid after 21 o'clock the extensive use of electronic devices (television, laptop, smartphone). These emit a bluer light, which reduces the release of melatonin * and disables restful deep sleep. 

Try to reduce disturbing noises at bedtime. When you are sleeping is already a noise level from about 50 decibels disturbing (a busy street is about 70 to 80 decibels loud, cobblestones street is much louder). Choose a quiet bedroom or use appropriate noise insulation or earplugs. A major source of noise may be a creaking bed, a snore, or another noise that is louder and discontinuous. Maybe some separate bedrooms make a lot of sense.

Make sure the room is not too cold and not too hot when you sleep. Better in the bedroom is a temperature of about 15 to 18 ° C and a humidity of 45 -55%.

Get consultation for a healthy mattress that is adapted to your physical condition. The mattress should be neither too hard nor too soft and withstand a long-term exposure time.

Avoid also sources of pollution that can impair you through the skin or the respiratory tract. Such sources of pollution can occur in the bed (in wood, plastic, etc.) or in the mattress, blanket and pillows; or in other utensils that are in the bedroom. You spend a lot of time in close contact with the bed and the utensils lying there. In the case of children, special care must be taken to ensure that their cuddly toys are strictly and reliably tested for harmful substances.

The optimal times to go to sleep depend on individual habits. As mentioned, there may be an individually different biorhythm, which is sometimes difficult to change. Make sure that you have a regular sleep rhythm. Different working hours (shift workers) will always cause sub-optimal conditions. Frequent disturbances of the familiar sleep-wake cycle can lead to disturbances in metabolism, digestion and in the cardiovascular system, which can lead to long-term disease risks.

Whether doing sports in the evening is well for you, or rather push you up too badly sleeping, will also depend on your habituation. Usually, you can create a good basis for a more relaxed sleep with more physical activity and also sports until late in the evening.

*Melatonin is produced in the brain and is responsible for the deep sleep) and disables restful deep sleep.

Too little light during the day, as in the winter, makes you tired and leaves less serotonin (a kind of "happiness messenger") arise, but too much light at night disturbs.

Do not eat too late digestible things (especially very fat), do not drink too much alcohol and test to what hour you can still drink tea or coffee without disturbed sleep. Although alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, it may disturb the deep sleep phase and thus the restful sleep.

Healthy diet is important against fatigue and overall health promotion.

  • Consume at least 5 hands full of vegetables and fruits daily. In addition, legumes, whole grain cereals, seeds and nuts.
  • At lunchtime, enjoy a variety of salads prepared from leafy vegetables, herbs, legumes, tomatoes, seedlings and fresh herbs.
  • Consume valuable protein components in the combination of the seeds and legumes, as well as with the fish and low-fat meat and reduced-fat dairy products.
  • Consume valuable fatty acids from cold-sea fish, rapeseed- and olive oil as well nut oil.
  • Drink enough calorie-free drinks such as water, fruit or herbal teas.
  • Ensure good quality (organic products and ripe fruits), as well as the nutrient-sparing preparation.
  • If necessary, only supplement with natural concentrates and / or by advice from adequately trained experts.
  • Beside the healthy diet have at least 30 - better 60 minutes daily physical activity and enough relaxation (at least 6 hours sleep and also recovery time during the day etc.).
  • Consume weekly as many calories as you burn in the energy balance. Avoid overweight.
  • Avoid processed meat (or reduce it to a minimum); reduce red meat. It is better to consume no more than 500g of meat per week.
  • Reduce salt consumption.
  • Avoid or reduce significantly sweetened beverages.
  • Reduce significantly processed products with many artificial additives.
  • Reduce the consumption of white flour biscuits (especially sweets but also salted biscuits).
  • Reduce fast food - avoid fast foods with trans-fat (often in fried and pastry)
  • Avoid mold and other pollution

Short dictionary

  • Micronutrient  = are just the nutrients (substances) of the diet, which are not macronutrients – micronutrients are the  vitamins, minerals, secondary plant substances (Phytonutrients).
  • Fatigue  =  is a term for tiredness.
  • Tannins = the longer brewing more tannins go into tea and these could calm the intestine.
  • Cortisone = is a hormone that the human body also forms. It gets into the blood serum and has varying concentrations over the course of the day (in the morning between 6 and 9 o'clock the cortisol release into the blood serum is much higher than at night and later in the morning it is also lower - there might be more coffee effect in some people according to the studies) to the circadian rhythm, which it has for different functions of the body you can read at Wikipedia (Chronobiology) (
  • Methylxanthine = They inhibit caffeine metabolism. The topic is that the more and the later caffeine is consumed during the day, the more the Methylxanthine inhibit the caffeine metabolism, and the caffeine has longer effects.


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