Do you often ask yourself, “Why am I feeling tired all the time?”
There are no simple answers (of course!) but some very valid reasons, and some of them may surprise you.
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), feeling tired all the time could point to a lack of sleep, a poor diet that fills you up but does not nourish your body, a sedentary lifestyle – the couch potato syndrome – stress (that stuff can kill you) and of course, certain medical conditions.
Around 16% of women and 10% of men in the United States walk around feeling tired all the time. And it can cause multiple problems.
- 1 out of 25 adult drivers reports falling asleep at the wheel every month.
- About 72,000 crashes and 44,000 injuries each year are a result of drowsy driving.
- 6,000 fatal crashes are caused by drowsy drivers every year.
Everyone experiences the late night out, staying up late watching a favorite TV show or working overtime. It’s not always easy to be specific about why you’re tired all the time, but these clues from research done by Medical News Today may answer some questions and offer some steps you can take to shake this off.
1. Lack of sleep
That’s a pretty obvious reason for feeling tired all the time, and yet, one out of three adults in the U.S. consistently do not get enough of it.
Here’s how tiredness affects you:
- It increases the risk of accidents, of course
- It contributes to obesity
- It may cause hypertension (high blood pressure) which is known in medical circles as “The Silent Killer.”
- Chronic tiredness is a big contributor to what we call depression
- It also increases the risk of heart disease, as your heart tries to keep you going, needing to work harder and harder.
FIX IT: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine And Sleep Research strongly recommends that people between ages 18-60 get 7 or more hours of sleep every day for the best health benefits.
➡ Anything less than that is associated with chronic fatigue, impaired performance, a greater risk of accidents and plenty of medical problems with poor outcomes:
- High blood pressure
- Heart Disease
- An increased risk of death.
If you find yourself fighting sleep frequently, here are some tips to help you get your full dose of rest.
Stick to a consistent sleep routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning — even on the weekends.
Skip the naps. We need a certain amount of sleep within a 24-hour period and no more than that.
- Napping reduces the amount of sleep that we require the following night, which might make it harder to get and maintain a sound sleep.
- Limit the time you spend in bed after waking up to 5-10 minutes
If you’re lying awake in bed worrying or with your mind racing, get out of bed and sit in the dark until you are feeling sleepy, then go back to bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and has a comfortable temperature. Any light that enters your room could disturb your sleep. Keep those lights from digital devices out of sight.
- Cooler room temperatures are better to promote sleep than warmer temperatures.
- Limit caffeinated drinks. Try not to consume caffeinated beverages after 12:00 noon. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last for many hours and cause issues with getting to sleep.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol before bed. Nicotine and alcohol just before bedtime can cause fragmented sleep, where you wake up frequently during the night.
If you do all these things and still wake up tired, I’d recommend that you contact your primary physician to determine if you have a health condition (such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome) which is keeping you awake or waking you up frequently.
2. Poor Diet
The easiest way to get rid of chronic tiredness is to make adjustments to your diet.
A healthy, balanced diet will make a world of difference in how you feel, all the time.
A healthy, balanced diet can help to combat fatigue.
- It is vital to choose a healthful mix of food from the five food groups, fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.
You can start changing your eating style today by implementing some of these small changes:
➡ Eat the right amount of calories for your sex, age, weight, and activity level. Eating either too much or too little can make you feel sluggish.
➡ Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Be sure to focus on eating whole fruits and a selection of vegetables.
➡ Let whole grains make up half the grains you consume.
➡ Shift to low-fat and fat-free dairy to help limit your calories from saturated fats.
➡ Vary your protein routine. Try to choose lean poultry and meat, limit processed meats, choose unsalted nuts and seeds, and select some omega-3-rich seafood.
➡ Cut down on sugar. Sugar can give you a quick rush of energy but it wears off fast and can make you feel more tired. Avoid foods and drinks that have lots of added sugar.
➡ Never skip breakfast. If you regularly skip breakfast you’ll be missing out on key nutrients and the energy that you need to kick-start your day.
➡ Eat at regular intervals. This can’t be emphasized enough: Sustain your energy levels by eating three meals per day and limiting unhealthful snacks.
➡ Drink enough water. Your body needs to be well hydrated even more than being fed. Drinking water can help to prevent dehydration, which results in fatigue, unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, and constipation.
3. A Sedentary lifestyle
When tiredness sets in, sitting on the couch and relaxing probably seem to be the only answer. But getting up and moving may be the best thing you can do to re-energize and shake off that fatigue.
- Exercising will help increase your energy and reduce tiredness.
Research by the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens discovered that compared with sitting quietly, one single bout of moderate-intensity exercise lasting for at least 20 minutes helped to boost energy.
- An earlier study by UGA also found that when sedentary individuals completed an exercise program regularly, their fatigue improved greatly compared with those who did not.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest that all adults need 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week and muscle-strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups on 2 or more days per week.
This may seem to be a lot of time spent exercising, but you can spread out your activity across the week and, if you’re honest with yourself, it’s just the amount of time that you might otherwise spend watching Netflix.
➡ If you haven’t exercised for a while, start slowly. Begin with a brisk 10-minute walk each day and build up to walking fast for 30 minutes 5 days per week. *See the link on how to get started walking at the bottom of this page.
- Brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike, playing tennis, and even pushing a lawnmower can all count toward your time spent doing moderate-intensity exercise. So can dancing and even some forms of yoga.
4. Excessive Stress
By now you know just how many situations can cause stress.
Work, financial problems, relationship issues, major life events, and upheavals such as moving, unemployment, and losing a loved one — the list of potential stressors is never-ending.
Excessive stress can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.
A little stress can be healthy and may actually make us more alert and able to perform better in tasks such as interviews, but stress is only a positive thing if it is short-lived.
Excessive, prolonged stress can cause physical and emotional exhaustion and lead to illness.
- Stress makes your body generate more of the “fight-or-flight” chemicals that are designed to prepare your body for an emergency.
In situations such as an office environment where you can’t run away or fight, the chemicals that your body has produced to protect you can’t be used up and, over time, can damage your health.
If the pressures that you face are making you feel overtired or giving you headaches, migraines, or tense muscles, don’t ignore these signals. Take some time out until you feel calmer, or try some of these tips.
- Identify the source of stress. Until you can recognize what is causing you to create and maintain stress, you will be unable to control your stress levels.
- Keep a stress journal to identify patterns and common themes.
- Learn to say NO. Never take on too much — be aware of your limits and stick to them.
Avoid those who stress you out. If there is someone in your life causing you a significant amount of stress, spend less time in their company or eliminate them from your life…no matter who they are.
Your life is worth it.
- Communicate your concerns. Learn to express your feelings and concerns instead of keeping them bottled up if something is bothering you.
- View situations in a different way. Try to look at stressful situations in a more positive light. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, see it as an opportunity to have some alone time and listen to your favorite tunes.
- Accept what you cannot change. Some sources of stress, such as an illness or the death of a loved one, are unavoidable. Often, the best way to deal with stress is to accept things the way they are, knowing they won’t be that way forever.
Learn to forgive. Start with YOURSELF.
➡ We’re human and often make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentments, and negative energy by forgiving yourself and others and moving on.
➡ Don’t underestimate the healing power of physical activity. It is a significant stress reliever and floods your body with feel-good endorphins. If your stress builds up, go for a walk, take your dog out, or put on some music and dance around the room.
5. Medical conditions
If you’ve made lifestyle changes to your physical activity, diet, stress levels, and sleep but still feel tired all the time, there could be an underlying medical condition.
Many medical conditions, such as anemia, can make you feel tired.
Some of the most common conditions that report fatigue as a key symptom include:
- underactive thyroid
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- urinary tract infection
- food intolerance
- heart disease
- glandular fever (Epstein-Barre Virus)
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies
If you’re concerned that you may have a medical condition causing you to feel tired and losing sleep, make an appointment with your physician to discuss your worries and get to the bottom of the problem as soon as possible.
Do not delay getting medical attention.