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6 Ways Exhausted Entrepreneurs Can Combat Fatigue Stop being a work martyr for at least eight hours per night.

By John Boitnott

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Maskot | Getty Images

Running a business can exhaust you. That's why it's crucial to keep an eye on your energy levels and to address a chronic case of low energy as soon as possible. Fatigue can mean anything from a chronic lack of sleep to a serious health condition. It can be caused by lifestyle factors, as well as by a long list of physical and mental conditions.

If your fatigue symptoms are accompanied by other serious symptoms, it may best to proceed directly to your doctor or nearest emergency department.

Otherwise, follow the steps below to figure out what's making you exhausted.

1. Check your sleeping environment.

The most common (and obvious) cause of fatigue is also perhaps the easiest to remedy: insufficient sleep. Begin by examining the most common sleep disruptors, such as the temperature of the room. Research shows that a cooler room temperature helps your body maintain sleep. Aim for somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results, but the optimal temperature for you may vary. Experiment over several nights to see what works best.

Another common sleep disruptor is the glare of digital screens. These devices emit a special kind of blue light that disturbs your body's melatonin production and can even hijack your circadian rhythms, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

Other environmental adjustments you can make for better sleep include installing blackout window shades or curtains to cut down on outside lights and to upgrade your bedding and mattress, if necessary.

Related: This Simple 10-Minute Trick Can Help Entrepreneurs Beat Exhaustion

2. Examine your diet, sleep and exercise habits.

The three main lifestyle factors that affect energy and fatigue levels are nutrition, sleep and exercise.

Start by using a small notebook to maintain a log of those factors on a daily basis. Note how much you sleep and rate the quality on a scale of one to ten. Write down what you eat and when, as well as your workouts or other forms of physical exercise. Also, rate the severity of your fatigue periodically throughout the day.

Keeping a lifestyle log over the course of several weeks can illuminate patterns that you may not otherwise notice. For example, you may realize that your fatigue levels spike in the days after a particular type of exercise or when you indulge your sweet tooth too often. This information helps you make adjustments to reduce fatigue, but will also prove extremely useful to your physician, should you seek medical attention for your fatigue.

3. Try taking some time off if you're feeling exhausted.

If environmental and lifestyle factors haven't adequately remedied your fatigue, and you begin to suspect your fatigue may be situational, plan to take some time off for a full mental and physical break with the workplace. That doesn't necessarily mean two weeks at a spa or resort. Even a few days off at home can give you a sense of being in a wholly different, relaxing environment.

The key is to make a complete break so you can measure any resulting change in your symptoms. If the break yields an improvement, you can then take stock of whether changes can help you better cope with your job and workplace, or whether you need to walk away from it.

Related: Be Prepared to Handle Entrepreneurship's Mental Toll

4. Get your allergies under control.

Allergies and sinus infections can also interfere with sleep. When allergy symptoms inflame nasal and sinus tissues, this makes respiration more difficult. The body's natural immune response to the allergen also makes wakefulness more likely.

If you suspect allergies are behind your fatigue, you might choose to start with over the counter anti-allergy medications, preferably ones that don't cause drowsiness. If these medications don't sufficiently get your allergies under control, talk to your physician about prescription-strength formulas.

Additionally, you'll want to clean your bedroom well, using a vacuum cleaner to remove as much dust and pet dander as possible. Keep your bedding and pillows clean and your windows closed. You may also want to add a bath or shower prior to turning in to make sure you've washed allergens off your body.

5. Make an appointment with your doctor.

If all else fails, talk to your doctor about getting bloodwork to rule out common biochemical causes. If the bloodwork comes back normal, talk to your doctor about less common causes, such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses.

Some serious physical conditions can also cause fatigue, including heart disease, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes and anemia. Depression can also cause a number of physical symptoms, such as muscle spasms, body pain, headaches and fatigue. Your doctor can help you explore and discover whether any of these conditions might be behind your fatigue.

Related: 5 Simple Hacks Entrepreneurs Can Use to Avoid Burnout

6. Take being exhausted seriously.

Fatigue isn't something to make light of, particularly when it lasts for more than a few weeks. Exhausted entrepreneurs aren't assets to their businesses. Fatigue can actually wreak havoc with your decision-making and cognitive skills. That's bad enough when you're the only person affected, but when you're the boss, your entire company and staff might be impacted by your fatigue. So take its presence seriously and address it promptly.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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