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Signs and Symptoms: Why You Experience an Extreme Lack of Energy Between Three and Five P.M.

Hormone Circuit Bioenergetics Circuit

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Carrie Lam, MD; Jeremy Lam, MD

No taking care of your health can head to a lack of energy that makes your day a real slogAlthough conventional medical science often treats all human bodies the same, the fact remains that there are several distinct blood types, many differently sized and proportioned skeletal systems, and a plethora of genes with many different versions. Basically, you are unique; and while that fact is often used as encouragement, the uniqueness of each person complicates the understanding of human health. And, in some cases, it can cause problems associated with an extreme lack of energy.

What Makes a Lack of Energy Serious?

A lack of energy may not feel the same for everyone. It can manifest as general weariness or fatigue or be accompanied by other issues such as apathy, depression, or lack of motivation. Some episodes of low energy are normal and caused by temporary external factors.

Normal fatigue will resolve itself with time, rest, and self-care. However, an extreme lack of energy may not respond to these changes and may suggest a more serious underlying problem. Some underlying causes of a lack of energy include:

Physical Causes

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Pain
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Thyroid problems
  • Drugs, alcohol, or medications
  • Infection
  • Heart disease

Lifestyle Factors

  • Poor sleep
  • Lack of exercise
  • Boredom
  • Overwork
  • Stress
  • Too much exercise
  • Excess weight
  • Grief
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Poor diet

Mental Factors

Mental or emotional issues such as anxiety or depression can also be associated with a chronic lack of energy.

When Fatigue is Dangerous

Fatigue on its own usually isn’t dangerous. However, see your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms at the same time:

  • High body temperature
  • Ongoing fatigue that doesn’t alleviate with time
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Weight loss
  • Depression

And if you experience severe symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, trouble breathing, bleeding, severe pain, or destructive thoughts, then go to the hospital immediately.

If you’ve had a check-up and everything seems fine, then you might need to consider the role that stress may be playing in your lack of energy.

Stress in the Modern World

Living in today's world of unbridled stress, the human body is constantly exposed to pressures that seem to cause or trigger various illnesses, although a clear understanding of these processes still eludes medical science. Over time, these pressures can cause irreparable harm to the body. Furthermore, toxic environments and lack of adequate rest both compound the damage.

The body has several mechanisms to naturally deal with stress, which combine to form the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) response system. The NEM response thwarts the onslaught of stress by activating many systems in the body, including the skeletal system, immune system, endocrine system, lymphatic system, and circulatory system. Each system works in coordination with the others, not in an isolated fashion (as conventional medicine often assumes).

The central system in control of the body’s stress response is the neuroendocrine system, which conventional medicine does acknowledge. This system consists of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and hormonal glands, which keep the brain on high alert, pumping more blood when needed. However, it's up to the adrenal glands, resting on top of the two kidneys, to secrete over fifty hormones to combat stress. Of the many hormones secreted, one of the most important is cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone.

How Your Adrenals Cause a Lack of Energy

Chronic stress eventually overloads your body. When the stress levels become intolerable, your body barely functions in its daily routines, hormonal production becomes deregulated, and cortisol output drops. This is known as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and it affects many people in the modern world.

Lack of energy are one of the main symptoms of adrenal fatigue/Commonly observed symptoms as the condition worsens are:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Salt cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, panic attacks
  • Heart palpitations
  • Reactive hypoglycemia
  • Brain fog
  • Hypersensitivity to medications and supplements
  • Food sensitivities

In some, all of these symptoms are present—in others, only a few. However, no matter how many symptoms manifest, they can be very debilitating. In essence, the adrenals suffer fatigue and slow down. Some say this leaves them feeling like the "walking dead,” and it’s a common cause of an extreme lack of energy for many people.

In today's changing medical-holistic-integrative environment, a more comprehensive approach is thought to be the optimal way to solve fatigue and other health problems that affect multiple systems such as AFS. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response is composed of multiple organs, systems, pathways, and chemical reactions, all working together to combat stress overload.

Under ordinary stress conditions, the body's NEM response is automatic, operating 24/7. When you experience overwhelming or chronic stress, however, the NEM circuit breakers may malfunction, with a variety of detrimental effects.

While many people experience a general lack of energy, your exact clinical response will be heavily influenced by your genetic makeup and lifestyle choices. In essence, each body responds differently to stress overload. This can be seen in the following scenario.

The Three-To-Five Energy Slump

Since most people eat their mid-day meal around 12 or 1 p.m., many people experience fatigue soon afterward, in the late afternoon. If you feel tired immediately after lunch, you may be eating too many carbohydrates. Otherwise, you’ll likely feel energized for a few more hours.

However, when 3 p.m. rolls around, you may start to feel a lack of energy or be hungry again. Why is that? Cortisol—one of the main hormones produced by your adrenals—is also known as a glucocorticoid, meaning that it helps to regulate glucose levels and balance your blood sugar. As the adrenal glands weaken, your body is no longer able to keep up metabolism and balance your blood sugar effectively. So when 3 p.m. rolls around, your blood sugar—which increased after lunch— starts to drop, and you feel fatigued.

Another reason for the afternoon slump is that your body’s natural circadian rhythm dips and makes the body sleepy around 3-5 p.m. However, this tiredness should not be so overwhelming that you must take a nap in order to function. Once you get over the initial sleepiness, you should be able to keep going and be productive.

If you have a severe lack of energy between 3 and 5 p.m. but don’t eat an excessive amount of carbohydrates or suffer from diabetes or some other known condition, AFS may be the underlying cause. In an Adrenal Fatigue slump, the body goes into slow motion and doesn't want to move. You may also experience brain fog and increased irritability. Like an 18-wheeler truck that’s out of gasoline, relief only comes after taking a 20-minute nap, fueling up. After a nap and some additional nourishment, your body’s energy levels will rise again and you’ll be ready to take on the rest of the day.

An excellent way to help prevent this mid-afternoon slump is to proactively eat something at this time to boost your blood sugar and energy levels. However, rest is also important to help your adrenals recover.

The AFS and Fatigue Recovery Process

As your body recovers and regains strength, lack of energy should subsideRecovering from fatigue can be a very long and involved process. Some strategies that may help include:

  • Eat lots of healthy foods
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Identify and eliminate stressors
  • Drink lots of water
  • Do gentle exercise regularly
  • Take up some stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation
  • Spend time with friends and family who make you feel good
  • Reduce your work or social schedule if it’s demanding
  • If you drink, smoke, or take drugs, stop

If you have AFS, then it’s important that you approach this process carefully to avoid further stress. You may also need the help and assistance of a medical professional who’s aware of AFS and the effects it can have on your body. Most of all, listen to your body and how it feels. If the afternoon energy slump persists or returns, consult your doctor.

The Takeaway

An extreme lack of energy at any time of day can be a sign that something is seriously wrong. It’s common in people with AFS or other disorders related to metabolism or energy production. If you experience this problem, here’s how to start combating it:

  1. See your doctor to ensure that something more serious isn’t underlying your fatigue.
  2. Don’t use coffee or sugar to mask your symptoms.
  3. Talk to a medical professional about adrenal fatigue and whether that could be causing your problems.

To learn more about adrenal fatigue and whether that could lead to your energy slumps, talk to our team by clicking the banner below, or give us a call at +1 (626) 571-1234.

 
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