The Hidden Reasons You Are Exhausted

Posted by Sabrina A. Sarabella on Monday, March 2, 2015

Hidden Reasons Why You’re Exhausted

Do you feel tired all of the time?  Can never get enough sleep to get up feeling energized or do you rely on coffee or sugar to make it through the day?  We tend to blame our exhaustion on just being too busy or doing too much but can there be some hidden reasons behind your exhaustion? 

Here are some reasons why you can be feeling tired all the time.  


The adrenals are two little gland that sit on top of your kidneys that produce a hormone called cortisol.  Cortisol helps to regulate metabolism and your body respond to stress.  When we continuously stress the body through extreme dieting, excessive working out, environmental stresses, sleep deprivation or just the stress of life in general the adrenals will suffer.  

One of the major responsibilities of the adrenals is to raise cortisol in response to stress in the body.  If we are constantly stressed by any of the reasons I previously listed our bodies will react by having high cortisol levels.  Continuously having elevated levels of cortisol will stress the adrenals which leads to us feeling exhausted.  

You know that feeling that you need to depend of coffee to get you out of bed and moving in the morning or that feeling that when the alarm goes off you could sleep another few hours.  That feeling that you feel tired but wired all the time, like you are exhausted but your mind is just going and going and you just can’t relax, that is your adrenals telling you there is something wrong.  

The best ways to support your adrenals is to make time for restoring activities.  We are all so busy that it is important that we balance out our adrenals by doing activities that reduce cortisol in our bodies, such as leisure walking, gentle yoga or meditation.  

It is also important to keep blood sugar stabilized throughout the day by eating small meals.  When we are low in blood sugar the body will raise cortisol to increase glucose so that we can use it as a source of fuel.  

When your adrenals are stressed making you feel exhausted all the time you want to reduce stressors in the body to help restore balance.  


The best way to look at what is going on inside of your body is by doing blood work.   The CBC (Complete Blood Count) looks at red blood cell markers and white blood cells.  Red blood cell markers identify any disorders of the blood like anemias and while blood cell markers identify any problems with the immune system.  

Red blood contain hemoglobin which transports oxygen throughout the body.  Oxygen is used by your cells to produce ATP, which is how you get energy.  When hemoglobin is low in the body, the body has less oxygen and can lead to decrease energy and exhaustion.  

Iron deficiency can also be discerned from blood tests.  Decreases in iron in the body can be another hidden reason for feeling run down or tired in your daily life.  Iron deficiency can occur from not eating enough foods that contain iron or when you body has poor digestive absorption.  Symptoms of iron deficient anemia include fatigue, poor concentration, reduced physical and mental endurance.  

White blood cells- Your white blood cells make up part of your immune system, when they are elevated it usually indicates an acute and active immune response, when they are depressed it usually indicates a chronic immune challenge.  Taking a look at your WBC counts can give you information if your immune system is compromised leading to a decrease in energy.  


Vitamin D- One of the most common vitamin deficiencies we see is vitamin D.  Vitamin D plays an important role in the metabolism of calcium. Decreased blood levels can interfere with bone development and strength, while elevated levels can be toxic. 

Consequently, the serum level needs to be determined and monitored to effectively provide dietary supplementation or treatment. More recently, low vitamin D has been associated with non- skeletal disorders such as: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, celiac disease, IBS, weight gain and lethargy.

Lab levels identify Vitamin D deficiency happens below 30-35 (depending on what lab you use). Functional levels actually say you should be between 50-80 and even up to 100.

When supplementing with Vitamin D, you may want to increase your dosage in the winter months. If you are deficient in D you may need to take higher doses at first to get your Vitamin D levels back up to normal ranges and then taper back down.

When the sun is out, go outside for at least 15 mins without sunscreen to get the benefits of Vitamin D.

Food Sources of Vitamin D: Liver, beef, veal, egg yolk, dairy, and saltwater fish (herring, salmon, tuna, sardines)

Vitamin B -Vitamin B deficiencies are known for their influence on energy levels in the body.  Many vitamin B are used as cofactors to help break down food into energy.  Be sure that your daily multi vitamin includes all of your B vitamins he vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B12 choline, inositol, folic acid and biotin, or supplement with a separate B complex vitamin.  

Food sources of B vitamins: fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, beans, poultry, meats and dairy.  

Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in the body and a deficiency can be attributed to unexplained fatigue or weakness.  However, a deficiency may be hard to tell with a traditional blood test because only 1 percent of magnesium is found in the blood.  Most of it is stored in your bones and organs.  

To get more magnesium into your diet try juicing your greens, adding in nuts and seeds, bananas, dark chocolate.  When choosing a supplement look for
(100-300 mg) of magnesium glycerinate per day.  


Maybe your partner is a snoozer or your kids wake you up in the middle of the night or whatever it is you are not getting a good nights sleep which is causing you to feel exhausted every day.  

In order to ensure a good nights sleep make your bedroom a sanctuary, keep all electronics out of your room (TVs included) use your bedroom for sleep and sex only.  Make sure your room is dark and free of any outside noises, you may also need to sleep with a sound machine if you need white noise to sleep.   

Before you go to bed at night establish a routine, read a book, take a bath, give gratitude for your day.  Establishing a routine will help to let you body know it is time to wind down and go to sleep.

Watch your food and drinks before bed.  Alcohol can disturb sleep patterns and cause you to wake up more exhausted in the morning.  If you drink a lot of liquids before bed it may also cause you to get up and use the bathroom many times during the night.  

Food can work both ways also, if you eat too much before bed it may cause you stomach distress and keep you up at night.  However, if you have trouble sleeping through the night you may need to have some carbohydrates before bed to help keep you sleeping throughout the night.  


You are eating all the right things, lots of lean protein, plenty of organic vegetables and only sticking to the cleanest carbs like quinoa and sweet potatoes but you still aren’t losing weight and you feel lethargic all the time. So what gives? Well, along with some other things that may be going on, one thing that may be an issue for you is that you are not eating the foods that are right for your body.

You may have what we call a sensitivity to some foods. This is different then an allergy to foods. When you have an allergy to a food, the food will cause an extreme reaction in the body like an anaphylactic reaction. This is what is tested for when you do a food allergy skin prick test. This is the most common test that doctors will do to test for food allergies.

However, this is not the only way your body can react to foods to which it may have an allergy or sensitivity. When you eat a food that your body may not agree with it can cause inflammation inside of the body, something that you can’t see or feel and to which you many not have an immediate reaction.

When the body tries to digest food that it is sensitive to it can cause an adverse immune response that can end in fatigue, GI issues, weight loss resistance and chronic disease.

When eating foods that your body has a sensitivity to over and over again it starts to create a low grade chronic inflammation in your body. This is detrimental to weight loss because inflammation causes you to hold on to extra water weight in your body. Inflammation can cause problems that can weaken the the gut lining resulting in malabsorption. When your body experiences nutrition insufficiencies from malabsorption your body tends to start to store fat to help combat the lack of nutrients it is not getting.

Inflammation in the body can also cause you to feel lethargic and exhausted which can lead to the excess use of sugars and caffeine you help to make it through the day. Depending on sugar and caffeine to help with energy causes a cycle of crashing blood sugar, more exhaustion, and weight gain.

Take a look at what foods you are eating on a daily basis and how those foods are making you feel after you eat them.  Start a food journal and keep track of what you are eating, what time you are eating and then how you are feeling immediately after you eat those foods and then 24-48 hours after.  

Start an elimination diet by taking out any of the high inflammatory foods like dairy, gluten, and processed foods.  Eliminate these foods from your diet for at least 4-6 weeks and start to notice how you are feeling.  Focus on eating green leafy vegetables, lean proteins, low glycemic fruits and healthy fats.  If you start to feel better, have more energy and feel less bloated you probably have a food sensitivity to one or multiple foods that you have eliminated.  

After you have eliminated these foods for 4-6 weeks you can start to challenge the foods by putting them slowly back into your diet.  Choose one food to add back into at a time.  For example, if you choose dairy, have yogurt, cheese and ice cream in a day (or any other dairy products you are used to eating).  Wait 3 days and see how you are feeling.  Do you have your old symptoms back?  If your symptoms don’t come back then you can add this food back into your diet.  Continue to add a new food back in every three days and monitor progress.  

I designed the FOOD ELIMINATION FIX to give you a step by step guide on how to figure out and eliminate the foods that are causing your exhaustion.  


Thyroid problems are one of the most common problems women face, yet they are the most under diagnosed. The standard testing doctors do for your thyroid is just measuring your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). This only gives us one small piece of the puzzle. We are still missing so much information about the thyroid that we need to make changes to help our body perform optimally.

The thyroid gland is in charge of secreting hormones and regulates almost every cell within our bodies. It regulates how we burn calories, maintain our metabolism and control other hormones like estrogen and cortisol.

When our thyroid is not functioning properly you feel lethargic, have brain fog, your digestion is off, and your weight is not manageable. We may feel exhausted and burnt out and an under functioning thyroid is a major reason why we may feel this way.

The major problem with thyroid testing is that most, not all, doctors only test for TSH and are under-informed about what is really going on with the thyroid. Many doctors dismiss feeling burnt out and exhausted and do not treat is as a real problem.

Many women are told that being tired all the time, feeling burnt out, and experiencing hair loss is a normal part of aging. Or worse they are told there is nothing wrong or that it is all in your head. We need to take control of our own health and figure out if there is a real thyroid problem and how we can treat it so that we can live a vibrant thriving life.

When getting your blood work done you, want to ask to get a full panel thyroid test. The following is included in a full panel thyroid test:

-Total T4
-Free T4
-Total T3
-T3 Uptake
-Free T3
-Reverse T3
-Thyroid Binding Globulin -Thyroid Antibodies

Knowing your numbers and finding a medical professional that can help you manage your thyroid is key to helping to improve your thyroid health.

Here are some suggestions to help improve thyroid health:

-Control blood sugar swings by consistently eating high quality protein throughout the day balanced with the proper amount of carbohydrates and fat.
-Blood sugar swings not only affect the thyroid gland but also indirectly affect the adrenal gland function which is highly connected to thyroid physiology.                                   -Alkalize your body by eating more fruits and vegetables.


Ever feel tired and eat something and it makes you more energetic?  Or the opposite, you eat something and it makes you feel tired? When that happens it means we suffer from blood sugar imbalances.  When our blood sugar is balanced throughout the day we shouldn’t have surges of energy and feeling tired.  We should have balanced energy all day long.  

As our body depends on glucose to function, our brain especially needs glucose to function. Up to one third of the body’s glucose is used by the brain. When your body has unbalanced blood sugar from lack of proper nutrition you can feel irritable, tired, nervous, shaky and light-headed. You may have difficultly eating large meals in the morning, have a decrease of energy in the afternoon, crave sugar and sweets and depend on caffeine to make it through your day.

You want to balance your blood sugar throughout the day. This means eating balanced meals of a proper ratio of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. If you suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) it is important to not skip breakfast. Eat a breakfast high in protein and fiber, avoid sweets and juices and eat ever 2-3 hours. If you tend to run more hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) you will want to avoid sweets and starches, increase physical activity, decrease portion size and large amounts of starches to avoid fatigue after meals, and eat a diet high in fiber and protein.

These are some reasons that may be behind your exhaustion and why you are feeling tired all the time.  If you interested in looking further into these issues you can schedule an appointment with me by emailing