Do you ever feel like you need to take frequent breaks, want to take a nap, or even find yourself closing your eyes throughout the day just to rest your body for even a brief second? This sleepiness may be a cue that your body is feeling tired and needs some rest.
Feeling tired all of the time is exhausting in itself, but can also leave you wondering why you are feeling this way. A lack of energy can make it difficult for you to simply get through your day let alone thrive at anything. This can become an increasingly frustrating cycle, especially when you cannot think of what is contributing to your fatigue. Identifying the problem is the first step in finding the solution. Below is a description of why you may be feeling so tired all of the time.
Not enough sleep
The first thought to consider is if you are getting enough sleep. The recommendations for sleep are different depending on your age. For example, a toddler needs 11-14 hours of sleep per day. Whereas an adolescent needs only 8 to 10 hours per day. For the average adult age 18 to 60, the CDC recommends 7 or more hours of sleep per night. Of course, every person is different, so the amount of sleep you need to function well is not the same as your sister, partner, or the randomly selected participants of a sleep study.
Feeling tired throughout the day is one sign that you are not getting enough sleep, but there are some other common symptoms that you are not getting the quality sleep you need. If you are not feeling rested immediately when you wake up or toss and turn throughout your night, these may be some other indicators that you are not getting the best possible sleep which could contribute to you feeling tired throughout the day. To counteract this, try to get enough sleep every night. Setting alarms and reminders for when to go to sleep and when to wake up can help you create a consistent sleep schedule which can improve your sleep.
Poor sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene may sound like making sure that your teeth are brushed and your sheets are clean before you go to bed. But, sleep hygiene is actually a term to describe good sleep habits. If you have poor sleep habits like having distractions near and in your bed it could be impacting your ability to get quality sleep and feel rested throughout the day.
The most important thing you can do to get high quality sleep is be consistent with your bed and wake times. This means if you decide to go to sleep every day at 9 pm and wake up at 8 am every day, you may end up feeling more well rested. This concept includes weekends as well and is most effective if you stick to the same schedule 7 days a week. While difficult, implementing this habit can greatly improve your sleep.
Electronics can also be a big problem with sleep hygiene in today’s day and age. Looking at screens before bed, whether that is a TV, computer, or phone can actually impact how your brain signals your body to be tired and go to sleep. If you are looking at the screen at night, the blue light from your phone can make it difficult for your brain to release melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it is time to rest. So, do yourself a favor and put the screens away before bed time.
Lack of exercise
Exercise has been known to have a ton of benefits to your health and well being, but who knew that not having enough of it could leave you feeling tired and fatigued. Naturally you may think that exercising makes you feel tired, so not exercising would make you feel awake and alert. In reality, too much and too little exercise can leave you feeling fatigued.
To combat this you will want to implement a regular exercise schedule. Many people find it difficult to exercise regularly, especially if you have been inactive for quite some time. To make it easier setting goals, choosing something you enjoy, and scheduling the time on the calendar can increase your likelihood of following through with your exercise plans. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine could allow you to be left feeling refreshed.
Eating the wrong foods
The foods you eat can also impact your feelings of alertness. Both your food choices and when you eat them have an impact, so some simple lifestyle changes could make a big difference in your rest. When it comes to timing there are a few things that you will want to avoid before you go to sleep that could make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. So, before you begin even thinking about going to bed it is best to set down the caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and any large meals. These things keep your mind and body alert and make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Another way food can contribute to tiredness is not having enough of it. Food is essential to life, therefore you need enough of it to have energy. Food is energy for your body, so if you are not taking in enough calories, or you are choosing foods with low nutritional value it could be impacting your feelings of tiredness. If food is contributing to your energy levels, it is best to have a well-balanced diet suited to your specific health needs including vegetables, protein, and whole grains.
Have you considered that one or many of the medications you are taking could be contributing to your fatigue? Often medications have fatigue listed as a potential side effect. If you are on any medications read the side effects for each of them and look for fatigue as a side effect. This is something you should bring up to your health care provider to determine if your medication could be the cause and if anything can be done about it. Your doctor or health care provider could possibly change the dose, medication, or try other therapies to help you with your fatigue. Sometimes, there is no better option, but it is always worth trying to see if something can be done.
Stress can arise from many things and is individualized to each person. Almost everyone has experienced some sort of stress at one time or another. Feeling stressed has different levels and can range from healthy stress, or eustress, to emotional exhaustion. Emotional exhaustion can occur from having compounding stress over a long period of time or having many stressors pile up all at one time. Experiencing this stressful time can result in physical and emotional symptoms, including fatigue and excessive tiredness. Not everyone gets tired from stress, but it is one way that it can be manifested.
A great solution to this is to think about if there is anything that is particularly stressful to you at this time. If so, it is wise to find healthy ways to deal with your stress so that it is not interfering with your daily life. Some ideas on how to deal with your stress include solving the problem if possible, practicing mindfulness, talking with a mental health care professional, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices.
Change of seasons
As mentioned earlier light can have a big impact on your brain’s ability to have a regular sleep and wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. Screens aren’t the only thing that can play with this system. The change of seasons can also alter your body’s ability to adjust to the changing light patterns. In the winter there is typically less light, so your body is not getting the wake signals it needs throughout the day to keep you as alert and awake as usual. The change in the amount of daylight could be a culprit in your sensation of tiredness. Bright Light treatments have shown to be helpful in promoting awakeness in those that experience a change in fatigue level when the seasons change.
Having feelings of exhaustion is draining, especially if it is all of the time. There are some things that you can address from home that could be leading to your tiredness. As discussed your sleep habits, foods you eat, medications you take, lack of exercise, and more could be contributing factors. Although feeling tired is experienced by many, it is wise to check in with your health care provider to make sure nothing more concerning could be leading to your fatigue. Other causes of fatigue could be medical, including heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, iron deficiency (anemia), obstructive sleep apnea, and thyroid issues including both underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). Unbalanced thyroid hormones are a very common medical condition that can also cause weight gain, weight loss, and hair loss in addition to fatigue. Seek medical advice if you believe your lack of sleep may be caused by a health condition, but these lifestyle factors can help you even if the source of your fatigue is from medical causes. Listen to your body to consider what it needs to support a healthy energy level, and if it tells you to get more help do not ignore it. Feeling tired all of the time does not have to keep being your normal, and know that there is hope to feeling more awake and revitalized.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.