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Are Digestive Problems Connected to Fatigue?

While lack of sleep is the primary cause of fatigue, other conditions and issues in the body can contribute to this; the digestive system is a large and active part of the body, and disorders are likely to obstruct restful sleep.

Repeated digestive moments and pain while you are sleeping can cause fatigue

The Digestive System

The digestive system is responsible for processing food as it moves through the body. Starting in the mouth, it's comprised of the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and bowels. The digestive system breaks down nutrients, absorbs them into the bloodstream for distribution around the body, and disposes waste products via the anus. Enzymes play a key role in the digestive process. Found in the saliva, stomach, and intestinal tract, enzymes are complex proteins that break down food during digestion, and specific compounds can maximize their effectiveness for smoother digestion.

Common Digestive Problems

Problems in the digestive system may arise for many reasons, including malnutrition, alcohol abuse, genetics, or lifestyle. These are the most common digestive among menopausal women:

  • Colitis. An inflammation in the bowel.

  • Diverticulitis. Inflammation in the pouches that reside in the small intestine is known as diverticulitis.

  • Gastroenteritis. An infection that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Heartburn. The pain felt when the contents of the stomach wash up into the esophagus. It's also called acid reflux.

  • Ulcers. Holes in the mucous membrane that lines the stomach.

These digestive issues can all cause mild to severe discomfort.

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue is excessive physical and mental tiredness. The primary cause of fatigue is consistently falling short of healthy sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours of regular, restful sleep every night to restore energy expended during the day. Without this, fatigue might occur; this comes with achiness, drowsiness, irritability, poor concentration, and increased susceptibility to disease. Other factors - such as anxiety, diet, lifestyle, medications, and sleep disorders - can obstruct restful sleep and contribute to fatigue.

Digestive Problems and Fatigue

The digestive system is large, complex, and active, and digestive issues can cause internal discomfort and activity as you sleep, particularly if a meal had been eaten within two hours of going to bed. Pain or an awareness of digestive movements may hinder ability to get to sleep or cause disruptions in the night. Repeated interruptions to a restful sleeping pattern is likely to cause fatigue.

Avoiding fatigue related to digestive issues is dependent on treating the issue itself; it's a good idea to consult your doctor for medications and advice about dealing with your specific condition. Meanwhile, making lifestyle adjustments can also lower the risk of fatigue; eating a lighter meal earlier in the evening will minimize digestive activity during the night, and avoiding other dietary triggers, such as alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods in the evening will also promote restful sleep.

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Sources:
  • Better Health Channel. (2011). Digestive system. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Digestive_system
  • National Health Service UK. (n.d.). Tiredness and fatigue. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/tiredness-and-fatigue.aspx
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Digestive Diseases. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/edlineplus/digestivediseases.html
  • National Institutes of Health. (2014). Fatigue. Retrieved June 4, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fatigue.html