Sustainable Paleo Paleo Lifestyle Meets Sustainability

Exhaustion Survival Skills

You roll over and hit snooze on your alarm. Despite sleeping 7-8 hours, your body feels anything but rested.


After five minutes of mental preparation, you finally get your legs over the edge of the bed and sit up oh so slowly. Your limbs feel weighted, your head is filled with fog and frustration, it’s taking all of your willpower to open your eyes, and you have a dull heavy pang in your abdomen from exhaustion.


It might sound like a hangover or the flu, but for anyone with chronic fatigue, autoimmune or thyroid issues, it’s just a regular day.


The last conscious memory I have of waking up without an alarm clock and feeling fully rested was easily over five years ago. Sleep is forever my nemesis and savior.


Over do it one weekend, and you’ll pay for it for the whole week. Over do it several weekends in a row? You’ll probably have to legitimately call in sick one day next week.


Sleep is undervalued by almost everyone, in my opinion. But for those with chronic illness, autoimmune issues, or hormone imbalances, sleep is the lifeline that means the difference between a productive, happy day and being 100% out of commission while your body copes.


A normal healthy adult can bounce back in a day. We need at least a week.


We don’t have the luxury of undervaluing sleep.


Anyone with a chronic disease will tell you that being in tune with your body is imperative.


Something I've found incredibly helpful in making sure I treat my body with the care it needs, is ranking my day-to-day fatigue on a scale where “1” is calling in sick to work and “10” is waking up with the rested energy and enthusiasm of a five year old on Christmas morning.


Using that scale, a 6 or 7 is actually a pretty good day. 8 is phenomenal. A 2 or 3 means I’ll probably leave work early if I can.


If you google “what to do when you don’t get enough sleep”, you’ll get a whole lot of patronizing lists about setting a bedtime or not hitting snooze in the morning. You know. All of the things that are the most obvious.


This is a survival guide for the days you wake up between a 2 and a 5, and for whatever reason don’t have the option of taking time off to rest.


  1. Breakfast. Stay away from sugar as much as possible, including simple carbs like toast or bagels (Gluten free or otherwise). When your body is fighting exhaustion, cut to the chase and give it as much nutrient dense food as possible. Specifically, your body needs food with lots of healthy fats and protein. I highly recommend:


  • Protein “cookie dough” (aka breakfast mush from the Purely Twin gals). It’s made from mostly protein powder, collagen, gelatin, and coconut oil, but in a form that makes it perfectly tasty. Your brain is fueled by protein and healthy fats - this is my number one breakfast for brain fog mornings.


  • Bone broth or soup. A hot cup of bone broth (or a bone broth based soup) will flood your body with much needed nutrients. If you aren’t a fan of drinking straight bone broth...


  • Berry Smoothies made with some form of greens, bone broth, and protein powder. Yes, I said bone broth! Even a half a cup of bone broth hidden in your smoothie will pack enough nutrients to help fuel a body fighting fatigue.


  • Any type of meat and veggies you have on hand. Seriously, last night’s dinner leftovers are a strong contender. Drizzle a little coconut oil on top and you’re good to go!


2. Limit your caffeine to one cup or less of coffee.


When you are fighting fatigue, you are most likely also fighting shot adrenals, and caffeine, as blessed as it may be, is a major enemy of adrenals. 


Not to mention, your sleep induced stress is not going to benefit from another stimulant. I believe the phrase is “beating a dead horse”. I stick with half-caf or decaf as a general rule now.


3. If you can sneak even a ten minute nap in at lunch, DO IT. 


Set five alarms, each a minute apart, make sure your ringer volume is up, and take a nap. Heck, if you have an office job, go sit in the backseat of your car and take a five minute nap. When you wake up, go get a hot beverage.


4. Up your water intake. 


Most of us know we don’t drink as much water as we should everyday. Days when much needed rest is not an option, water can be a game changer. 


If you’re having trouble with straight water that day (sleep-deprived tummy issues, etc.), try sipping on an herbal/green tea. Spearmint is a personal fave.


5. Be. Nice. To yourself.


Days like this are not the time to rag on yourself for what you were “supposed” to get done. These are the days to step outside for a little bit of sunshine and fresh air, and remind yourself that your body is amazing for fighting and healing the way it does.


Do you have a go to for high-fatigue days? Tells us in the comments below if any of these tips have worked for you, or what you do instead!