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Horses before zebras

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December 11, 2011 by Treina Aronson

Recently while walking home from leaving my 10 year-old car that my mechanic gently corrected was “just resting” rather than dead, I felt overcome by a wave of fatigue. Although the gray season had begun it was an unusually bright sunny November afternoon in Seattle. So I thought it isn’t’ because of the weather. Is it a vitamin D deficiency? No I started taking my vitamin D again last month. Maybe my thyroid is malfunctioning. Should I get it re-tested? Or maybe it is depression. What are the current stressors in my life? These are how my thoughts organized themselves around solving this puzzle.


Then a new thought emerged. At the end of the summer I brought home the newest member of our family, a little cockapoo puppy. This sweet little ball of fluff loves nothing more than to greet the dawn, reducing my sleep for the last couple of months by about 2 hours each night. I soon realized I was feeling fatigued because well… I was tired. I was tired from a lack of my usual amount of sleep and it had caught up with me.  It was as simple as that.


This reminded me of the saying “If you hear hoof beats think horses before zebras”. (Now if you live in Africa reverse this). In our complex world full of complex problems our tendency towards multifarious explanations can shadow what is the most obvious. If you’re feeling tired maybe it is simply because you are. Let us start at this simple most obvious place, the horses, and then if no answers are found we can move on to the zebras.

Tags: depression, sleep, stress,