If you frequently feel tired, you’re not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, about half of US adults report feeling sleepy during the day between three and seven times per week. The causes of persistent sleepiness, fatigue, or low energy during the day can vary widely. That said, learning about some common causes may help you decide how to move forward in addressing this issue in your life.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
If you notice that you’re not feeling rested after getting seven hours, you might try to get a bit more. If you’re still not feeling rested, it could be that your sleep quality is poor. Practicing good sleep hygiene is one way to address this, which we’ll cover below.
Top 10 Common Causes Of Feeling Tired All The Time
If you’ve been asking yourself, “Why am I sleepy all the time?”, one of the reasons below could be the cause. If your sleepiness is persistent, especially if you’ve tried various methods to address it, you may want to meet with a healthcare provider for evaluation.
1. Simply Not Sleeping Enough
The first potential cause of frequent daytime sleepiness—also referred to as hypersomnia—is the most obvious: You may simply not be getting enough sleep. Many people find themselves staying up too late and getting up too early to allow their body to get the rest it needs each night, often due to a busy schedule. However, it’s worth prioritizing your seven to nine hours of sleep every night if you can; research has linked an ongoing lack of sufficient sleep to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes, depression, and even a reduced lifespan.
2. Chronic/Excessive Stress
When the body experiences stress, a cascade of physiological responses is triggered in order to enable you to face the perceived threat. When you experience chronic stress—such as if you have a high-pressure job, an unstable living situation, or a volatile relationship with someone close to you—your body may engage in this response for longer than it’s meant to. This can lead to a variety of health problems over time, including trouble sleeping. After all, your body preparing itself to meet a direct threat usually includes an increased heart rate, increased levels of alertness, and muscle tension—all of which can make it difficult to rest properly. Finding healthy ways to manage stress levels may help.
3. Worry And/Or Anxiety
Getting into bed at night represents the first chance many people have in the course of a day to take a break from constant “doing” and be alone with their thoughts. That means it can end up as a time for processing the day’s events and planning for tomorrow rather than a time for calm rest. For those who have an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), quieting the mind to get ready for sleep can be even more difficult. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition like GAD, it’s usually recommended you consult with a mental healthcare professional for advice. You might also try strategies to calm your mind before bed, such as meditation or journaling.
People diagnosed with depression often have trouble sleeping, and many even develop insomnia. A lack of sleep can cause or exacerbate depression in a vicious cycle. That’s why it’s usually worth consulting with a qualified healthcare provider if you're experiencing symptoms of depression—which can also include persistent sadness, a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and changes in eating patterns and/or weight. Depression is considered to be a treatable illness, so seeking professional support for it could help you address your fatigue.
5. Certain Medications
There are a variety of medications that may cause daytime drowsiness in some people. If you suspect a medication you’ve been taking is making you feel tired, it’s recommended that you consult with your doctor. Remember to seek their advice before starting, stopping, or changing your dose of any medication. Some that may cause drowsiness include but are not limited to:
- Anti-seizure medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Some cold medicines
- Some allergy medicines
- Opioid pain relievers
- Products containing CBD
6. Chronic Pain
It’s not uncommon for people who live with chronic pain of some kind to experience frequent fatigue during the day. For one, the pain may make it difficult to sleep at night. However, researchers continue to look into other reasons chronic pain may cause fatigue as well. One theory is that inflammation associated with long-term, pain-related conditions could play a role in making a person feel tired or low-energy during the day.
7. Sleep Disorders
Of course, insomnia can lead to a person frequently feeling tired throughout the day, since it’s characterized by an inability to get enough high-quality sleep at night. That said, other sleep disorders could also produce the same effect. Sleep apnea, for instance, can cause a person to wake up briefly but frequently during the night, resulting in tiredness the next day. Restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy are some of the other possibilities.
8. Shift Work
Those who work the night shift—especially if the hours are irregular or the shifts are very long—may experience sleepiness while they’re awake. This type of work can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, which is a set of natural processes that enable the body to sleep and wake at regular times in a 24-hour schedule. Tips like creating a conducive environment when you do sleep and trying different sleep schedules—such as staying up for a few hours when you get home or engaging in a nap routine—could be helpful for shift workers who frequently feel tired when awake.
9. Hormonal Changes
Some individuals may experience sleepiness during certain periods of time or phases of life that are characterized by hormonal changes, which may resolve themselves once the phase has passed. For example, those who menstruate may face insomnia as a part of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Sleep disturbances can also be associated with the hormonal changes of menopause.
10. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Finally, myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can cause frequent sleepiness during the day. It can be so severe that individuals experiencing ME/CFS may be unable to engage in the activities required for daily functioning as a result of their tiredness. They may also experience trouble thinking clearly or concentrating, and pain and dizziness could occur as well. There’s currently no treatment for this condition, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a variety of strategies that may help individuals manage their symptoms.
What To Do If You Feel Tired All The Time
The recommended course of action for those who experience hypersomnia is typically to speak with their doctor. A qualified healthcare provider can perform an evaluation to determine whether a health condition may be at play, or if a prescribed medication is causing the issue. Otherwise, practicing good sleep hygiene is usually the suggested next step. This can include:
- Sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room
- Going to sleep and waking at roughly the same time every day
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol several hours before sleep
- Avoiding screens (phones, TV) before sleep
- Eating a balanced diet of nutritious foods
- Getting regular aerobic exercise
- Trying meditation and/or stretching before bed
Addressing Sleepiness In Therapy
As mentioned, there are many different potential causes of daytime sleepiness—and some of them are related to mental health. Conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for instance, can all cause sleep problems that can result in daytime fatigue—as can stress or other mental health-related challenges. Speaking with a therapist is one way to address such challenges since therapy is the first-line treatment for many mental illnesses and concerns.
Regularly attending in-person therapy sessions is not possible for everyone. Some may not have the time or the transportation required to commute, while others may face financial barriers to care. In cases like these, online therapy can represent a viable alternative. With a platform like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can speak with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging from the comfort of home—and all for a cost that’s lower than the average in-person session. Research suggests that online therapy can offer similar benefits to face-to-face therapy, so you can generally feel confident in choosing whichever format is most effective and comfortable for you.
Why am I always tired and have no energy?
Constant fatigue can be caused by various factors, including sleep disorders like sleep apnea, medical conditions such as thyroid issues or anemia, mental health challenges like depression, or lifestyle factors like poor diet and lack of physical activity.
What does it mean when you feel tired all the time?
Feeling tired all the time may indicate an underlying medical condition or result from lifestyle choices. Common causes include sleep disorders, an imbalance of thyroid hormones, heart disease, or chronic stress. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the specific cause.
Is it normal to be tired every day?
While everyone can feel tired occasionally, consistent daily fatigue isn't normal. Persistent tiredness can be a sign of underlying health issues or the result of lifestyle factors, and it's worth seeking medical advice if it continues.
What are 3 types of fatigue?
Three types of fatigue are physical fatigue, mental fatigue, and emotional fatigue. Physical fatigue is associated with muscle weakness, mental fatigue relates to difficulty concentrating or decision-making, and emotional fatigue is linked to feelings of emptiness or burnout.
Why am I constantly tired no matter how much I sleep?
This might be due to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, where breathing is interrupted during sleep. Other possible causes include an imbalance in thyroid hormones, anemia, or other underlying health conditions.
Why am I so tired no matter how much sleep I get?
Possible causes include sleep disorders like sleep apnea, which can be treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease, or mental health issues like depression.
What does diabetes fatigue feel like?
Diabetes-related fatigue is often described as overwhelming or persistent. It might accompany other symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss. This fatigue can be a result of both the physiological effects of diabetes on the body and the demands of managing the disease.
At what age do you start feeling tired and old?
There isn’t a specific age when everyone starts feeling tired or “old,” as it varies based on individual health, genetics, and lifestyle. However, some people might begin noticing reduced energy levels or increased fatigue symptoms in their late 40s or 50s, often attributed to hormonal changes or other health factors.
Why am I still tired after 8 hours of sleep?
Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep can be due to issues like sleep apnea, not reaching deeper stages of sleep, or other health issues like anemia or low thyroid hormone levels. A simple blood test can help identify many of these conditions.
What causes tiredness in females?
Tiredness in females can be due to a range of factors including hormonal changes, iron-deficiency anemia, thyroid imbalances, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Lifestyle factors, including stress or physical activity, and dietary choices, like not consuming enough iron-rich foods, can also contribute.
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