5 Easy Ways to Beat Fatigue as a Special Needs Parent

Updated: Feb 8

Fatigue? What's that? I've never been fatigued a day in my life, said no special needs parent ever!

I know that many, if not most, of my posts, are aimed at getting and keeping kids with special needs healthy but I feel like I've been neglecting an important part of that process: YOU!

I'm not just a doctor who works closely with the special needs population, I am also a special needs mother and I've found myself on the wrong end of energy more times than I care to admit.

So what's a special needs parent to do when you've found that you haven't slept for the 8th night in a row because of meltdowns or hospitalizations, you don't have the time to plan out a healthy meal, and the increasingly stronger coffee just isn't cutting it anymore?

Turn to naturopathic medicine, that's what!

Using some simple naturopathic tips can help improve your energy and beat fatigue even if you're only getting 3 hours of sleep per night (which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later).

As a caveat, these tips are helpful for overall health but nothing, and I really do mean nothing, can replace the foundations of health: great diet, good quality sleep, healthy living arrangements, connecting with God and nature, and enjoying fulfilling relationships.

With that said, here are 5 ways to beat fatigue when you have no time or energy to do so:

  1. Skip The Sugar

What's the first thing that you tend to do when you're stressed? If you're anything like me then you might just reach for a doughnut or a candy bar, especially in the late afternoon when you feel a crash coming on.

That's the absolute one thing that you DON'T want to do. Junk food high in carbs tends to release huge spikes of insulin into the bloodstream. Over a period of time, increased amounts of insulin can lead to insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body (muscle cells, liver cells, etc) doesn't respond to insulin well anymore. Insulin is the hormone that brings glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream and into the cells for them to use for fuel.

If your cells aren't getting the glucose they need to function and the glucose is staying in the bloodstream, then you're going to feel fatigued. Your body won't have any energy to function. High carb snacks also tend to lead to an increase in inflammation in the body [1]. Increased inflammation leads to, you guessed it, even more insulin resistance and soon you've got type II diabetes and you don't know why.

So instead of grabbing a doughnut or a sugar-filled coffee when you feel fatigued, opt instead for a simple protein snack with a little fat like cheese sticks and guacamole or a boiled egg, shredded red cabbage, and hummus. These snacks will stabilize your blood sugar and you won't feel a crash later on.

In fact, you'll find that you have a steady source of energy instead of a short burst followed by fatigue. But, I have cravings for high carb goodness when I'm super stressed, you protest! I'm right there with you. How do you beat those cravings? With water and the right supplements!

2. Banish Dehydration

Let's face it, most special needs parents would rather have a glass of wine than a bottle of water. Am I right? But is that what your body really needs? while it's nice to unwind with a glass of Riesling (my personal favorite), it's probably not the best especially when you are already suffering from fatigue.


While alcohol can be soothing it does have a diuretic effect on the body. Diuretics are a class of chemicals that cause the body to excrete more water. More water excretion can lead to becoming dehydrated and dehydration leads to fatigue [2].

Dehydration not just causes fatigue, it