Anything under 6.5 hours of sleep lead to sleep deprivation and eventually chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), otherwise known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a long-term illness that deeply impacts numerous body systems resulting in a range of health and wellness issues over time.
The CDC estimates that globally around 17-24 million people from CFS or ME and those that suffer often cannot perform life’s daily activities. As a health and wellness coach who knows firsthand how sleep can affect your day-to-day activities, I am dedicated to helping individuals turn their lives around through strategies and protocols.
When it comes to CFS/ME individuals, I am keenly aware of the overwhelming fatigue that can affect both mental and physical aspects of my clients. Researcher estimated 2.5 million Americans suffering, more than 90 percent of individuals with this illness have been able to attain the correct diagnoses. Whether due to miscommunications with healthcare providers, lack of medical training, or education on timely diagnosis and care, it can be a difficult and lonely road to find the right type of treatment.
There are three main symptoms of CFS/ME:
Diminished ability to perform usual activities
A drop-in activity levels accompanied by fatigue that lasts longer than six months is one of the primary symptoms. Fatigue can include severe tiredness, not finding relief in sleep, not attributable to rigorous activities, and was previously not an issue.
Display of post-exertional malaise (PEM)
PEM is a type of unpredictable physical and mental collapse that occurs after doing routine tasks like going to the grocery store, doing laundry, taking a shower, or attending a social gathering outside of the house. This “crash” worsening CFS/ME symptoms like headaches, sore throats, issues with sleeping and may not allow the sufferer to do anything including leaving the house for several days.
Problems staying asleep
Falling asleep and/or staying asleep proves a difficult task for people with CFS/ME. Even if a full night of sleep is possible, those with this condition rarely feel well-rested.
There are two additional core symptoms one of which must be present for a diagnosis to be complete.
The first includes struggling with memory or thinking skills and feeling stuck in a brain fog.
The second involves something called orthostatic intolerance which refers to a worsening of symptoms like feeling dizzy, faint, or lightheaded in addition to vision changes when seated upright or standing.
Other common symptoms that impact people with CFS/ME include:
- Joint pain
- Tender lymph nodes
- Digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Irregular heartbeat
- Frequent sore throat
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Sensitivity to light, odor, noise and chemicals
While there is no cure for CFS/ME, there are different ways to manage or treat the numerous symptoms. Learning how to actively manage the worst symptoms is an excellent coping strategy that can reduce the disruptive nature of the disorder.
I meet plenty of clients that come to me with complaints of feeling tired and lacking energy. One explanation is adrenal fatigue, a theory that explains the persevering challenge of general exhaustion. When exposed to prolonged and sustained stress, the body tries to protect itself but like a tank of gas, hits empty.
Coined in 1998 by naturopath and integrative medicine expert James Wilson, adrenal fatigue is associated with individuals who often have intense bouts of stress and/or on the heels of chronic infections including the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis (and now COVID)
The adrenals are two small glands that are located atop of the kidneys and are responsible for production and releasing cortisol into the bloodstream when the body experiences stress. These hormones help regulate your immune system, metabolism and other necessary functions. Proper adrenal functionality supports normal energy levels, circadian rhythms for good sleep and a healthy response to life stressors.
Without mitigation to control or decrease the exposure to stress, the adrenals’ capabilities to produce cortisol can diminish leaving you with symptoms including tiredness, depressed mood, prone to anxiety, insomnia, irritability, brain fog, lack of energy, lightheadedness and cravings for salty or sweet foods. Essentially your adrenals run out of cortisol. When combined with chronic pain scenarios, adrenal fatigue can interfere with hormones and cause damage to the immune system, increasing your risk for illness.
An adrenal stress function test is integral to finding out exactly what impact stress is having on your body. Your doctor can refer you to a laboratory that can administer a non-invasive saliva test that collects four samples over the course of 24 hours.
This test can help us understand if your body is in stress overdrive. The markers they use to determine adrenal health include:
As the body’s main stress hormone cortisol helps regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory responses and can metabolize fats and carbs.
- Secretory Immunoglobulin (slgA)
These antibodies aid in warning off pathogens and toxins and can indicate how stressors are impacting your body via the gastrointestinal tract.
- Anti-Gliadin Antibody (anti-gliadin AB)
This is the antibody that is tested for in those that can’t tolerate wheat. If gluten intolerant, exposure to wheat can further exacerbate bodily stress if ingested.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
One of the most prolific steroids in the body, DHEA is known for its production of androgens and estrogens. If unbalanced, depression, anxiety and other disorders may present.
A customized plan to help you tackle any issues from nutritional, hormonal and supplemental support to lifestyle modifications, to boost your immune function and restore your adrenal glands to health.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is an umbrella term that includes both myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is a serious, chronic and complex disease that affects many systems of the body and can profoundly impact daily activities. The main symptomis disabling fatigue that does not improve with rest and lasts at least 6 months.
Fatigue may get worse after activity, which is known as post exertional malaise.
Other signs and symptoms may include muscle pain, joint pain, concentration and memory problems, headaches, sleep problems, fever, sore throat, and/or tender lymph nodes.
ME/CFS generally occurs in young adults (20 to 40 years of age) and is twice as common in women.
The exact cause is not known, but symptoms may be triggered by an infection.
Diagnosis can be difficult as there are no specific laboratory tests, and the symptoms are common to a number of different illnesses. There is no cure or effective treatment for this condition but there are several clinical trials.
While the term ME/CFS is widely used, there is still a debate in the medical literature about the relationship between myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome and there is no universally accepted definition. The term “systemic exertion intolerance disease” has been proposed as new term for both diseases.