Why Am I Tired All The Time?
7 min read
Last Modified 1 June 2023 First Added 7 January 2017
Do you get enough hours of slumber, yet still feel tired all the time, especially during the day?
Tiredness isn’t just caused by lack of sleep. You may feel tired more often than not, which could be due to an underlying condition or lifestyle choice. You could have an underactive thyroid gland or an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea (don’t worry yourself just yet though – be sure to mention your fatigue to your doctor for their professional opinion). That said, most people who snooze enough, yet drag themselves through the day, are prone to one or more energy-sapping lifestyle habits. Let’s look at them together.
When you skip breakfast, your body perceives the prolonged ‘fast’ as a stressful event and pumps out extra stress hormones. If you’re already pressured by a busy lifestyle, this is the last thing you need. Taking time to eat a solid, balanced breakfast will launch your day with more energy and stop you from feeling tired all the time.
Be sure to notice whenever you start to get hungry or get that tired, light-headed feeling associated with low blood sugar. Have snacks on hand and prepare healthy meals to sustain strong levels of energy and concentration throughout your day.
It’s a vicious cycle: the less you exercise, the more likely you’ll feel tired all the time and the less you’ll feel like exercising. To turn this pattern around, take a brisk walk even when you feel tired. You’ll most likely notice that you’ll feel much more alert, positive and energetic after the walk. Even just 20 minutes of brisk walking daily will help you have more energy, manage stress better, and also sleep deeper at night.
Many people race through their days from morning to night. Are you one of them? If you constantly feel like you’re rushing and never stop to take a break, you’ll have stress hormones pumping non-stop throughout your body all day long. This is a guaranteed recipe for exhaustion and burnout.
Notice when you start rushing or pushing, slow down, and remember to breathe. Find time to take small breaks, even for just a couple of minutes. Give yourself an extra 5 minutes to get to wherever you’re going.
Research has shown that failing to take annual leave makes you more prone to fatigue and illness, less productive, less happy, and more likely to die before your time. If it’s been much too long since you last took some time off work, book some annual leave now. Try to unplug completely, as this will boost the restorative impact.
Whether or not you have any religious affiliation, the human body ideally needs to rest one day every week. For years, Sundays have been sacred for me. Personally, I usually don’t do any kind of work (not even household chores). The to-do list never ends anyway, so why not take a day off from it? You’ll discover that you enjoy a more productive, energetic and happy week if you allow yourself to stop for at least one precious, necessary day.
Dehydration is a common cause of tiredness… not drinking enough fluids can make you feel sluggish and give you headaches. Dr Roger Henderson told the Natural Dehydration Council, “Many of my patients do not drink enough fluid each day and only believe they are dehydrated when they start to feel thirsty. Yet other symptoms of dehydration appear before this, including fatigue and tiredness, headaches and poor concentration”. You should drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Shift work and being woken up regularly can affect your mood. The NHS says, “If you have a disturbed sleep pattern – for instance, if you work night shifts, sleep in the day or look after young children – it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and you’ll feel tired during the day”.
When it comes to sleep, it’s largely about quality, and not necessarily quantity. Poor quality sleep can lead to many health issues and, of course, tiredness. If you have bad slumber, you are more likely to have impaired brain function, weight gain and increased risk of diseases.
Don’t forget, there are also some medical factors that may be causing your perpetual tiredness. Some of the most common are…
There are lots of different illnesses that cause tiredness. They range in severity but most can be treated easily. One of the most common illnesses that causes tiredness, especially in women, is anaemia. This occurs when the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce red blood cells, causing a lack of oxygen in your organs. Symptoms of anaemia include tiredness and lethargy, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. It is most commonly caused by blood loss, but can also occur when there is a lack of iron in the diet.
The NHS say, “Treatment for iron deficiency anaemia involves taking iron supplements to boost the low levels of iron in your body. This is usually effective, and the condition rarely causes long-term problems”. Eating foods rich in iron can also help, such as dark-green, leafy vegetables, pulses, beans and meat/fish. However, you should talk to your GP if you suspect you may have an underlying medical condition so you can make a proper treatment plan.
Depression is a psychological disorder, however, it has some physical side effects. One of the most prominent symptoms of depression is a lack of energy. People who suffer from depression often find it very hard to rest. A large contributing factor to depression is stress. Experts at ZME Science say
“stress can exhaust the brain and lead to depression, which always seems to trigger more vicious cycle problems: you’re depressed so you become more stressful; you have trouble sleeping so you feel tired; you feel tired so you don’t feel like doing anything meaningful anymore”.
Remember, if you’re worried about being tired all the time, make sure to speak to your doctor.
Well, in addition to the advice we’ve shared above, there are a few more things that you can start to incorporate into your day to help you get them forty winks:
Try adding one or two of these tips into your routine and see how it goes. You can find more detailed advice in our guide to sleeping better at night.
Remember, good sleep takes time, so don’t worry if you’re not a pro just yet – you’ll get there. Happy snoozing!