What Else Is Making You Tired?

Finding new ways to get more energy, sleep better, and have less cataplexy is kind of an obsession of mine. After I got narcolepsy, I only focused on my narcolepsy symptoms. I asked questions like, "How do I get more orexin?" and "How do I stay awake?" 

These were very important questions to ask, but I also got a lot of traction when I started asking myself questions that had nothing to do with my narcolepsy.

Could something else cause exhaustion?

It started with the question, “Could something else, other than my narcolepsy, be adding to my exhaustion?"

I asked this after I had a conversation with a pregnant, narcoleptic mom. She said, "My narcolepsy is so much worse while I am pregnant." Which makes sense to word it that way. No judgment. After having 4 kids of my own, 3 when I had no narcolepsy, and one after I got narcolepsy, I know how exhausting pregnancy is. Plus, my narcolepsy symptoms were worse.

Regardless, I suggested the idea, that maybe her added exhaustion was because she was growing a human. She looked at me kinda funny and said, “Isn’t that the same?”

Well no, not exactly. But does it even matter? Absolutely!

Managing stress helped me

If I say, “My pregnancy is making my narcolepsy worse,” I might focus on finding ways to help my narcolepsy. Like stimulants, or other lifestyle changes.

If I say, “I am more tired because I am pregnant,” I might look for solutions to help the pregnancy. More sleep would be very appropriate in this case.

As I started looking at my life, I realized that more intense stress sent me to bed almost instantly. High levels of stress exhausted me before I got narcolepsy, which is pretty normal for any human. If our fight or flight response gets engaged, then adrenaline kicks in and our body starts spending energy like crazy. Learning to manage my stress response helped me immensely.

Other things that may make us tired

Let’s explore some of the other ways your body could be struggling and causing tiredness that have NOTHING to do with narcolepsy.

Gut health

People often fall asleep or get drowsy after a meal. Certain foods can make this worse. Digestive issues require even more energy. Healing our guts can be tricky, depending on the severity, but even a simple fruit and veggie fast, or removing foods that bother you can help your digestive tract be more efficient. If it’s more efficient, it is taking less energy.

Hanging out with Certain People

It’s ok, we all have those people in our lives who suck all the energy out of us. How do we handle it? With intention. Do we stop hanging out with them? Maybe. It depends on whether it’s your Grandma or a friend. Can we put boundaries on them so we don’t lose as much energy? Absolutely. Assess the relationships in your life. Also, be honest with yourself about whether you are part of the relationship problem. None of us are perfect.

Over or under-exercising

It’s a hard balance for a lot of people. Downright frustrating at times. Exercise gets our blood moving, and pumps oxygen through our body and brain. This is energizing. So movement is a great way to gain energy. However, overdoing it can take energy away.

Other health issues

Thyroid, hormones, viruses, and more can impact any human. Make sure you and your doctor are keeping an eye on your whole body.

Some things are easier to fix than narcolepsy

What I love about this idea of asking ourselves other questions, is that most of these things are easier to fix then narcolepsy. Sure, it still takes effort, but it’s not impossible. Have you found any other ways to reclaim energy outside of your narcolepsy that you can share with us?

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