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How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief

How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief

Did you know that there isn’t an exact number of bowel movements to have in a day? While two BMs per day maybe normal for one person, one BM maybe normal for you.

But if you’re finding yourself going to the bathroom less and less all of a sudden, often backed up for days, that’s when you should listen up and take action.

Constipation can be due to a number of factors, from stress to poor ability to digest food (causing it to sit stagnant in the intestines) to infections and even heavy metal toxicity.

It’s important to get regular stool testing done to understand what may be causing your constipation, but in the meantime, there are many at home remedies you can implement to help support digestion and help move things along.

1. Give yourself an abdominal massage

Giving yourself a gentle abdominal massage can help move things along and relieve any blockages.

With your forefinger and middle finger, massage your abdominal area in a clockwise motion to stimulate muscle contractions and break up matter that may be stuck in the intestines.

You can also do this when you feel a stomachache or bloating; you should feel relief pretty quickly.

It also helps to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth during this process. Implement this routine regularly for the greatest benefits.

2. Consume more high-fiber foods

Do you know if you’re getting enough fiber in your diet? Just like fat, it used to be that fiber was looked down on as something we should minimize, but especially for those suffering from constipation, fiber can be incredibly helpful!

Not only does it act to sweep out stagnant matter, it can also regulate bacteria and detox the colon.

An easy way to address it is to simply add in more fiber. Foods like leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chia and flax seeds are all high in fiber.

Try adding ground flax or chia seeds to your smoothies or salads and use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing. These are all great and easy ways to up your fiber intake.

As you get started, increase your fiber intake slowly to get your system accustomed to this food group, especially if it’s not a regular part of your diet right now.

If you’re looking for some more high fiber foods, here’re some ideas:

20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods To Add To Your Diet

3. Consume probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods

Probiotics are the good bacteria that support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight disease by lining and protecting your digestive tract. The benefits of probiotics are many. Humans are actually made up of 10 times more probiotic cells than human cells!

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And prebiotics are like the fertilizer to your probiotics, giving them the food and energy they need to grow and thrive.

We need both in certain amounts in order to have regular bowel movements and keep things moving along in the intestines.

They go hand in hand and can be found in many common foods. Probiotic-rich foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, and other cultured vegetables. Prebiotic-rich foods include jerusalem artichokes, raw asparagus, onions, raw garlic, bananas, and raw jicama.

Take a look at this list of natural probiotics you can try:

Top 10 Natural Probiotics for a Healthy Gut and Strong Immunity

If you can make these foods a part of your regular diet, you’ll not only help normalize bowel movement frequency, you’ll also help ward off bad bacteria and increase nutrient absorption.

4. Make magnesium your friend

Supplementing with magnesium citrate can be a good way to stimulate bowel movements naturally too.

If you don’t find that abdominal massages are working or you don’t do well with fiber, try magnesium citrate. This supplement is what’s called an an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. Water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass.

Since everyone reacts differently to different levels of magnesium, I recommend starting off low and slow. Start with a small dose and if you don’t feel any movement after several hours, try upping it the next day until you find an amount you feel good with.

5. Take digestive enzymes to break up stagnant food

We all require enzymes to break down the food in our digestive tract. If our natural production of enzymes is impaired, it can be helpful to supplement with them short-term to stimulate the body to produce more.

Sometimes this alone can be a big improvement for patients with poor digestion capacity, as it not only improves the breakdown of new food, but helps breakdown stagnant food in the intestines too. Especially if you feel food sitting in your body long after a meal, digestive enzymes just might do the trick.

6. Do a gentle yogic twist

Moving the body can be an incredibly easy way to release the intestines and move food along.

Performing a yogic twist is as simple as laying on the floor, pulling your knees towards your chest, twisting the knees to the right side and turning your head to the left. Sit in that position for as long as feels good and then reverse:

This helps to unblock areas of your digestive tract that may be stagnant, stimulating muscle contractions and loosening up the bowel walls.

While in this position, focus on your breath by taking several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to further promote relaxation. The more you relax your mind and body, the more your digestive tract will relax and release too.

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7. Use a squatty potty

Another favorite tool of mine to help with constipation is what’s called a “Squatty Potty”. You can either buy one online or at a store, or simply stack some books or yoga blocks under your feet by the toilet.

Either way, what this does is it helps you mimic a natural squat to properly align your colon for release. Sitting on the toilet the way we do in the modern world actually causes kinks and pressure in the colon, blocking waste from releasing.

By lifting your feet up a few inches, it releases these kinks, allowing waste to flow out normally. Watch this video to find out more about it:

So if you find that when you go to the bathroom that nothing comes out but it feels like it’s ready to, you just might have a kink that could be easily released by doing this.

8. Try a yogic squat

Similar to a yogic twist or Squatty Potty is doing a yogic squat. This, too, mimics a natural squat, getting the body ready for elimination.

Follow the instructions on the video below, and feel free to use the support of a chair or sit on a block if needed:

9. Consider what you’re holding onto or not releasing emotionally

The mind-gut connection is real, my friends, so if there are emotions, anger or negative thoughts that you’re holding in, chances are that’s manifesting itself physically by causing constipation.

Is there something you need to communicate to someone that you’ve held in for awhile? Is there a negative situation in life (work, a relationship) that is toxic and causing you anger or frustration that you should move on from? All of these factors, believe it or not, can impact your digestion.

Try writing out on a piece of paper all of the negative thoughts, worries and things you want to release. Then, take a deep, cleansing breath to release them from your mind. Consider even ripping up or burning that piece of paper to solidify the removal of those from your mind and life.

Picking up a daily meditation practice (even if only for 5 minutes), or learning how to breathe deeper, can help you become more in tune with your thoughts and how your body is feeling.

Find one of these activities that resonates with you and commit to it. Over the course of a few days, weeks or months, notice how releasing these thoughts or things improves your digestion.

10. Increase exercise

As mentioned earlier, movement (especially exercise) has a lot to do with how healthy our digestion is.

When you move your body, it helps to stimulate your lymphatic system, the system that helps your body to remove toxins and maintain a healthy circulation. This directly benefits the digestive tract, keeping it moving.

Exercise also helps with increasing oxygen levels, which can help boost the energy in your colon, believe it or not!

Aim to get 30 minutes of light movement in each day, whether it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a vinyasa yoga class, running, or even a HIIT workout at the gym.

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Don’t give yourself any more excuses on not having time to exercise, take a look at this article first:

5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

11. Stay hydrated

A big contributor to constipation is dehydration. So many people today are dehydrated, and this not only can make your mouth feel dry, but it can cause the colon to dry up too!

Picture trying to slide down a dry water slide. You won’t get too far and it’ll be pretty painful along the way, right? The same happens in the colon.

Water not only helps hydrate the colon and speed up elimination, it’s also a key nutrient for the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Be sure to take in about 70oz of water per day (about 8 glasses) to stay fully hydrated. To remind yourself to drink enough water, try one of these free water drinking apps. They make it fun and easy to remember to drink enough water each day.

12. Eat or drink figs or prunes for relief

Both figs and prunes are rich in fiber which, as we discussed earlier, is great for digestion!

Figs and prunes, like most fruits and vegetables, have insoluble fiber, which forms a bulky stool that is able to move more quickly through the digestive tract.

You can either eat them in their dried form (10-15 of them), drink prune or fig juice, or soak them in water overnight and drink the water. It may take upwards of 8 hours for prunes or figs to produce a bowel movement, so be patient, but if they do have an effect overtime, that’s a good sign!

If, for whatever reason, you cannot tolerate the taste of prunes or figs, consider mixing the juices with orange juice to boost the flavor. Orange juice is loaded with vitamin C which is another constipation treatment that I’ll cover later.

13. Befriend aloe vera juice

Aloe is beneficial for more than just soothing a sunburn, it also plays an important role in digestion.

Just as it can calm your skin, it can calm the cells in your digestive tract, especially if they’re irritated or inflamed from a poor diet, medication or other damage.

Damage and inflammation can all contribute to constipation as it restricts the pathway for stool to pass through and reduces muscular contractions or even enzyme secretions.

Drink 1/3 cup (2-4 oz) of pure aloe juice (be sure there is no sugar added as these kinds have minimal nutritional value) daily, ideally before a meal.

Good news is, aloe juice is also great if you happen to suffer from diarrhea or general inflammation in the digestive tract.

14. Load up on vitamin C

You may most closely associate vitamin C with immune health, but it can actually help address constipation because of it’s laxative effect.

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If you’ve had to take high doses of vitamin C for any other reason, you may have noticed this as a “side effect”. High doses can produce a bowel movement, often in under an hour, so if you really need to get things moving, this can be a quick remedy.

It’s important, however, to speak with your healthcare provider about which type of vitamin C and dosage is appropriate for you.

15. Make probiotics supplements your friends

Did you know that the good bacteria inside of us regulate a lot of the digestion process? So, it would make sense that if your beneficial bacteria are damaged, perhaps due to antibiotic use, that motility will be compromised.

Like probiotic-rich foods, which we talked about earlier, supplementing with probiotics in pill form can be another way to consume them. Look for a probiotic that has several billion probiotics and a wide variety of strains.

Not only can probiotics re-regulate your system to alleviate constipation, it can also stimulate normal enzyme and acid production, both of which can help break down food so it’s not sitting stagnant in the system to putrefy.

16. Soothe your system with slippery elm

Slippery elm has been a digestive remedy for thousands of years, used both to treat constipation and diarrhea. Some go so far as to call it “nature’s laxative”.

Essentially, slippery elm helps to stimulate the nerve endings in the digestive tract, which helps to either speed up or slow down motility.

It’s recommended to pour two cups of boiling water over 2 tbsp of powdered slippery elm bark and steep for three to five minutes. Sip on it and you should soon feel relief.

If you don’t right away, give it another shot for the next few days, as your system may need time to acclimate to its effects.

17. Eat more papaya

Papayas are a great source of the natural enzyme papain, which helps the body to break down protein.

Unripe papaya, in particular, contains the most papain and can be helpful for breaking down protein in the intestines that the body may not be able to fully break down, thus preventing the accumulation of waste resulting in constipation.

Even more, papaya is a great source of insoluble fiber, which figs and prunes also have, and can help bulk up the stool and allow it to move easier in the digestive tract.

Smooth sailing: What’s your constipation remedy plan?

Implementing any one of these tips will begin to aid your body in naturally relieving constipation. Implementing a few of them together can be even more beneficial.

For example, increasing how much water you drink and fiber you consume, along with doing regular abdominal massages and releasing of negative thoughts can be a great combo treatment.

For even faster relief, drinking fig or prune juice or taking high doses of magnesium or vitamin C can be beneficial.

I recommend only doing one of these, not in combination, as they can be potent on their own.

With normal bowel movements, you should experience less bloating, cramping, inflammation, feelings of heaviness, toxicity and low energy, and will improve your long-term health.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

More by this author

Kristin Thomas

Functional Nutrition Practitioner and Health Coach

How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief 17 Acid Reflux Remedies That Are Natural and Super Effective natural diarrhea remedies 10 Natural Diarrhea Remedies to Make You Feel Better Instantly 13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective)

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Last Updated on November 12, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (and What to Do About It)

If you find that you’re feeling tired all the time, it’s important to understand that it’s a common problem for many. With all of the demands of daily life, being tired seems to be the new baseline. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling exhausted, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re so tired and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • Trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired.
  • Experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not.
  • Dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • Finding it more difficult to exercise.
  • Immune system may weaken, causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • Overeating because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids, even when you’re not hungry.
  • Metabolism slows down, so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Why Are You Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each common cause of fatigue and feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep, restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness, which could be triggered by numerous health problems, such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea, or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance, or emotional trauma. It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

You can learn more about some causes of fatigue in this video:

Feeling Tired Vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

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Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep. However, fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety, or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive[5].

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness, but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. However, there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation, which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Research suggests that most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night[6]. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

Get the right amount of sleep to stop feeling tired.

    The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

    Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

    Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[7]

    If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is the most likely reason you feel tired all the time. That is actually good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

    It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities, such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

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    4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

    Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

    1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
    2. Exercising regularly
    3. Using stressbusters
    4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

    After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

    I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

    Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

    • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy, including getting enough sleep.
    • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, ideally for six days a week.
    • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
    • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

    The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight, and to achieve overall wellness.[8]

    Living Healthy

    Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested, and better overall.

    In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to an increase in Alzheimer’s later in life[9].

    As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

    Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

    1. Unplug

    Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. However, tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime. This won’t help you stop feeling tired all the time.

    Try to turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

    2. Unwind

    Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating, or taking an Epsom salt bath.

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    3. Get Comfortable

    Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

    Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep. Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

    Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed. If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[10]

    This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

    Exercise

    Many people know that exercise is good for them, but they just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

    That’s what happened in my case, but when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my sedentary lifestyle.

    I decided to start swimming because it was something I had always loved to do. Find an exercise you love and stick to it to stop feeling tired all the time. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training, and flexibility training during your daily 20-minute workout.

    If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try as it will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

    Attitude

    Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

    When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted, but there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued: Breathing.

    But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” (or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

    Here’s how you do Long-Exhale Breathing:

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    1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy.
    2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air).
    3. Hold your breath while you mentally count to 7 and enjoy the stillness.
    4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it).
    5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep breath.
    6. Repeat 3 times, ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system.

    This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

    When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[11]

    Nutrition

    Diet is vital for beating fatigue if you’re feeling tired all the time – after all, food is your main source of energy.

    If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels, which may lead to daytime sleepiness.

    Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming though. For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

    Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

    1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
    2. Add a healthy fat or protein to any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed.
    3. Fill up with fiber, especially green leafy vegetables.
    4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice, and corn.
    5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars, and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
    6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives.
    7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive, and nut oils.
    8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts.
    9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice.

    Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

    That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

    Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multivitamin or specific supplement.

    The Bottom Line

    If you are tired of feeling tired all the time, then there is tremendous hope.

    If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices. If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes discussed above.

    Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

    More Tips to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time

    Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
    [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
    [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
    [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
    [5] Very Well Health: Differences Between Sleepiness and Fatigue
    [6] Advanced Sleep Medicine Services: NEW Guidelines: How much sleep do you need?
    [7] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
    [8] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
    [9] National Institute on Aging: Sleep loss encourages spread of toxic Alzheimer’s protein
    [10] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
    [11] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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