We recently analysed the latest Eve test data, and found that the number 1 reason why women are testing their hormones is ENERGY.
Or, should we say, the lack of it.
Chances are, if you’re also adulting in this fast-paced, modern world we live in, you probably know what it’s like to feel tired, or even exhausted, from time to time. It’s normal, natural and all part of being a human, rather than a machine.
But many of us are experiencing a little more than the odd afternoon of drowsiness, which is leading to a need to look a little deeper and figure out what’s driving the drowse.
So, how do you tell if your fatigue is a natural consequence of your full life? And how do you tell if your exhaustion is pushing the boundaries of ‘normal’ and needs to be investigated?
And if it’s not ‘normal’, what can you do about it?
Let’s take a closer look...
Pre-Period Fatigue: What’s Normal?
It is 100% normal and natural to feel a slight but noticeable drop in your energy levels in the days before your period. (We’ll break down why further down in this blog so keep reading!)
At this time, you are more likely to feel more inclined to snuggle up at home than hit the town, and may feel a bit lower in energy. But certainly still able to function and do all the things you want to do.
This lower energy level will likely become more noticeable in the final 2-3 days before your period begins, as hormones fall away to their lowest levels. This might result in you feeling the need to get a little more sleep, or to chill out on your usual exercise regimen.
It shouldn’t, however, result in you feeling completely wiped out and unable to go about your day as usual.
After your period begins and oestrogen starts to increase again, your energy levels should also be on the up, and you can expect to feel a little more lively around day 2-3.
And What Certainly Isn’t Normal…
The ‘pre-period’ fatigue we just mentioned, should be just that, ‘pre-period.’ Struggling with energy levels 3 out of 4 weeks of the month is a sign something in your body isn’t functioning as it should, and is worth investigating.
Other signs of fatigue that warrant further investigation include:
- Getting a good 8 hours sleep each night yet struggling to make it through the day without napping or pick-me-ups like coffee, sugary foods or energy drinks.
- Your ‘3pm slump’ has turned into more of an ‘all day erryday slump’.
- Waking up regularly feeling like you’ve had a night on the tequila, when you were really you were in bed by 9pm, sans liquor.
- Finding it difficult to wake up in the morning, but struggling to fall asleep at night.
- Feeling as though you don’t have the energy for even gentle exercise. Heck, just walking up stairs feels like a workout!
The reality is that feeling tired all the time has become so common for many of us that we accept this foggy state as ‘normal’. Sure, it may be common. But that doesn’t make it normal.
When our lives, diets and hormones are balanced we should wake up feeling refreshed, with stable consistent energy throughout the day and month.
Note for all the mamas out there: we’ve chatted to plenty of women who accept feeling tired all the time as a natural byproduct of having wee ones. However, when many of them have embarked on a health and hormone journey, and have seen their energy pick up, they’ve realised that there was more to it than met the eye…
How Do Hormones Affect Energy Levels?
Hormones are the natural chemical messengers inside the body that tell your cells what to do, how to function and what kinds of things to prioritise.
Naturally, hormones are a pretty big deal when it comes to telling our cells where to focus their energy. A few key hormones worth noting are:
Oestrogen is the key female sex hormone that contributes towards our ‘get up and go’ drive, and plays a critical role in energy balance. Oestrogen is at its lowest in the few days before your period begins (hence why you may feel sleepier during this time), but begins to rise shortly after.
With higher oestrogen levels in the follicular phase (roughly the first half of your cycle), this should be a pretty sweet time where you can handle having a bit more on your plate, and even some higher intensity exercise if you wish.
If you have low oestrogen levels, you may be missing out on the lovely boost in drive, motivation and energy that this hormone can deliver.
This may leave you feeling low on energy, or in some cases, depleted and exhausted, all month long.
Testosterone isn’t just the muscle-inducing Popeye hormone, and it’s not just for dudes.
This hormone is equally important for women as it is for men, just in lower amounts—around 5 to 10% to be precise.
Testosterone supports strength, energy, sex drive, bone health and cognitive function.
When testosterone levels are low, it can lead to you experiencing weakness, fatigue, low mood and general loss of ‘mojo’ or love of life.
Cortisol is our primary stress hormone and day-time hormone. It should be highest in the morning and drop away throughout the day. This keeps us feeling awake and energised during the day, and sleep well at night.
You might have heard the terms ‘burnout’, adrenal fatigue’ or ‘HPA-axis dysfunction’ used to describe the adrenal hormone imbalance that is essentially ‘low cortisol.’
The most common symptom of this stress picture is a deep, relentless fatigue that feels as though no amount of sleep will fix.
Low cortisol can also lead to a weaker immune system and a tendency towards low blood sugar levels.
Other Factors That May Be Involved
Outside of hormones, there may be other factors behind your fatigue, such as:
- Not getting quality sleep.
- Not eating enough. Food is literally fuel, how can we expect to have energy if we aren’t getting enough the right kind of fuel?
- Over-exercising, which is understandably super taxing on your energy stores.
- Not drinking enough water can also contribute to fatigue.
- Nutrient deficiencies. Of particular importance for energy levels are iron (many menstruating women could benefit from an iron supplement), vitamin B12, omega–3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.
What You Can Do About It
The path to restoring your energy levels and getting your mojo back starts with figuring out why you are depleted of energy in the first place.
If you’re already more or less covering off the energy basics of sleep, nutrition and hydration, there’s a good chance that digging deeper into your hormone health could provide you with the answers you are looking for.
As Ben Warren loves to say, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. So finding out the root cause of your fatigue will give you the best chance of regaining freedom from fatigue and waking up with a spring in your step once more.
Looking for more information? Head over to our FAQs page where you can find out about Eve.