6 Signs You’re Suffering From Extreme Tiredness

5 Min Read | By Leigh Horan

Last Modified 23 January 2024   First Added 22 February 2017

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

A bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling rough and exhausted for the entirety of the next day, unable to keep your mind focused on a task or even unable to formulate a coherent sentence. We’ve all been there, and trying to struggle with your day can sometimes make things worse. The only thing that will solve your problem is getting your head on your pillow and getting a good night’s sleep.

However, suffering from one bad night of sleep is nothing compared to consistently losing out on the amount of nightly rest you need, which leads to extreme tiredness and signs of exhaustion. But what are these signs? What should you be keeping an eye out for?

1. You just can’t concentrate

Image of woman who can't focus

We all know that a lack of sleep leads to us shuffling around like a zombie the next day, which is a clear sign that our minds need enough sleep to function. Dr Wayne Scott Andersen, medical director of Take Shape For Life, says that as well as this, the ‘body uses sleep to stabilise chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behaviour, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day.’ This means you’re more likely to find it difficult to remember things and be more irritable than usual on days when you’re exhausted.

2. You’re always stressed

Stress happens to everyone at some point or another, and no matter how organised you are, sometimes it just seems impossible to deal with. You’re more likely to feel this way if you’re suffering from extreme tiredness, but you’re also more likely to work to ignore the fact that you’re wound up. In a study that focused on the links between stress and chronic insomnia, researchers found that those participants that tried to ignore their stress were more likely to have three sleepless nights a week or more.

3. Your workouts don’t really happen

Image of man with extreme tiredness at the gym

If you just feel like giving up every time you walk into your gym, you could be hitting weights that are too heavy, or you could just be exhausted. Exercising takes mental as well as physical exertion, and if you don’t have the energy to get it together at work, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to be able to push yourself to work out. What’s worse is, as Anderson says, you are programmed to find the easy way out, so if you’re exhausted, you might not even make it to the gym, and you’re much more likely to reach for that fast food than normal.

4. You just want to nap

The overwhelming urge to curl up on the sofa during the day or even rest your head on the desk for a few minutes is a sure sign of sleep deprivation. We all go through peaks and troughs in our energy levels throughout the day, but energising food and maybe some caffeine can usually sort us out. However, if your eyes are drooping no matter what you do, it’s time to reassess your nightly routine.

Find out more about how to nap successfully with our daytime napping guide.

5. Your lips are dry

Maybe you’re reading this article in the winter, and your lips are dry from the inclement weather and the excessive amount of dry heat from the radiators you’ve been surrounding yourself with. If, however, your dry lips can’t be rescued no matter how much salve you apply, or the weather is fine, then your dry lips could be an indication you’re suffering from extreme tiredness. This is linked to dehydration and means you need to be drinking a lot more on days when you’re tired than you usually do.

6. You sleep poorly just one night a week

Extreme tiredness doesn’t have to be because you always get a bad night of sleep or because you only ever manage to grab about five hours a night. You could have an incredibly healthy approach to sleep and always ensure you get the hours you need. However, sometimes some things are beyond your control. Perhaps your bedroom was far too hot or cold last night, or maybe your partner needed comforting at 4 am. Whatever the reason for your one night of broken sleep, there will undoubtedly be consequences.

Image of man consoling partner

A study noted in the journal Sleep Medicine found that participants who followed up a night with 8 hours of sound sleep with a night of staggered sleep went on to experience worse moods and weaker attention spans. What this shows is that interrupted sleep could be just as harmful as consistent sleep restriction.

Extreme tiredness and the dangers

A consistent lack of sleep can be dangerous, not only for you but also for everyone else, too. In fact, here at The Sleep Matters Club, we’ve already covered some of the most drastic effects of sleep deprivation in history. On a smaller scale, extreme tiredness can have an extraordinarily negative impact on your overall health. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. All of which could be mitigated, or even avoided altogether, if you were just to achieve your recommended hours of sleep.

Related: How to Understand & Overcome Sleep Deprivation

About the author

More from the Sleep Matters Club