Dragging for six months or more? You may have chronic fatigue syndrome. The Centers for Disease Control adds to the criteria four of eight symptoms: brain fuzziness, sleep difficulties, muscle or joint pain, headaches, tender lymph nodes, sore throat and more fatigue after minimal exertion.
“Its numbers are absolutely increasing,” says Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic. “Fifteen years ago, it affected less than one tenth of one percent of Americans. It now affects 1 to 2 percent.” The cause of the syndrome? The hypothalamus—the part of the brain that controls sleep, hormones and automatic functions—likely malfunctions, perhaps because of modern lifestyles, says Teitelbaum. Most of us get less than seven hours of sleep, and half our nutrients are lost to food processing, sugar, white flour and fat. To put the zoom back in your step, try the following:
- Change your diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains—foods that help keep blood sugar and energy levels even–and cut back on white flour and sugar. Teitelbaum also suggests a daily dose of five grams of ribose, a nutritional supplement and precursor of energy molecules; 150 mg of magnesium; and a multivitamin. Magnesium helps convert glucose into energy.
- Snooze more. If you have to get up at 7, get to bed no later than 10 or 11, seven days a week. “The average night’s sleep 100 years ago was nine hours,” says Teitelbaum. “Now we’re down to 6.5.”
- Get moving. Teitelbaum suggests wearing a pedometer, increasing 50 steps a day as you’re able until you hit 10,000 steps, or five miles.