Why Am I So Tired? 9 Possible Reasons
Why Am I So Tired? 9 Possible Reasons

Do find yourself constantly yawning throughout the day or wondering why you can never shake those cobwebs away? Are you constantly battling brain fog and have difficulty focusing? Do you feel like you’re walking through quicksand endlessly, even if you’ve have an entire pot of coffee?

You’re probably wondering, “why am I so tired” all the time?

Related - 25 Tips to Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

The immediate answer that jumps to mind is get more sleep.

We all know that getting a full 8-9 hours of sleep is critical to our health and well being, but few realize that there’s A LOT more that goes into daily energy than simply the amount of sleep we get. In truth, how you feel on a day in, day out basis is impacted by your hormone levels, diet, exercise, mental state, and even your genetics.

If you find yourself chronically fatigue, but never sure why, we’ve got all the info ahead to help you figure out why you’re so tired. But first, it might be good to have an idea of how much sleep you should be aiming to get each night.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Believe it or not, the standard recommendation to get 8 hours of sleep each night doesn’t apply to all ages. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation has laid out some expert recommendations for how much sleep you should get each night:

  • Newborns = 14-17 hours (including naps)
  • Infants = 12-15 hours (including naps)
  • Toddlers = 11-14 hours (including naps)
  • Preschool-aged children = 10-13 hours
  • School-age children = 9-11 hours
  • Teens = 8-10 hours
  • Adults = 7-9 hours
  • Seniors = 7-8 hours

Now, let’s get down to the real reason(s) you’re tired all the time.

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Reason You’re Always Tired

Nutrient Deficiencies

One of the primary reasons for chronic fatigue is nutrient deficiency. There are numerous possibilities for what you might be lacking, but two of the most common nutrient deficiencies among adults feeling tired all the time are iron and Vitamin B12. [1]

Being deficient in either one of these nutrients is a hallmark sign of anemia, a condition that develops when your blood lacks sufficient red blood cells or hemoglobin. Your body uses these two minerals to create and deliver oxygen-rich red blood cells to your organs, without adequate oxygen in your system, you’ll feel tired no matter how much sleep you get each night.

If you suspect you may be deficient in either (or both) of these nutrients, consult your physician and have a blood panel run so you can see if you need to supplement your current diet.

Lack of Exercise

We live in the most technologically advanced era of human history, one that’s full of all sorts of wonderful advantages and conveniences not enjoyed by early man. With all those advances, comes that unfortunate side effect of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Where we used to have to run, climb, or jump to get our food or travel, we can now hop in the car to pick it up or even have it delivered. Additionally, more and more people now work in offices, sitting all day pecking away at a keyboard. Previous generations of mankind were working with their hands and feet just struggling to survive.

While this has brought incredibly wealth and prosperity, it’s also brought a lot of inactivity, and with that comes soreness, stiffness, neck aches, back aches and headaches. Believe it or not, this lack of activity can also make you more tired too!

Regular physical activity (exercise) balances hormone levels, improves metabolism, enhances insulin response, and promotes better sleep - all key factors that impact your energy levels, or lack thereof. Exercising causes a cascade of endorphins, that increase mood, energy, and vitality, while also keeping you trim and fit too.

In other words, if you’re not exercising regularly because you’re tired all the time, you might want to adopt some form of daily physical activity. It’ll increase your energy and help you sleep better at night, which sets the stage for better energy levels the following day. [2]

Depression

Depression affects roughly 16 million adults in the U.S., with individuals experiencing at least one major depressive episode each year. [3] One of the most common symptoms of depression (aside from feeling terrible that is) is tiredness. Experiencing depression can leave you feeling down in the dumps all day long, and completely drained of energy.

Other hallmark signs of the disorder include anxiety, low sex drive, and feeling hopeless.

Stress

Stress is a real killer, and not only of your energy levels either. Being stressed seems to be almost a given these days with longer work hours, busier schedules, and bigger bills to pay. Worried about how you’re going to get everything done each day can lead to some pretty serious consequences, the least of which is feeling rundown constantly.

Stress also wreaks havoc on your sleep, mood, mental well being, and hormonal balance, all of which then impact your energy levels further compounding the tiredness issue. In other words, being stressed all the time isn’t good for anything.

When things are getting a bit “too heavy” for you, step back for a moment and RELAX. Everything will get done because that’s how life works out, it just does. Once you realize that, you can stop being stressed all the time and start to ease off the stress and anxiety and start enjoying your life.

Lack of Sleep

There are a few certainties in life - death and taxes. Chances are if you’re reading this, you are paying taxes in some form or another, and one day you will die. You can do a few things to prolong your life including eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping. No matter what you might think as a hotshot 20-something, you cannot live without sleep.

Far too often people schluff off sleep with the attitude of, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” Well, keep on skipping sleep and you’ll get to your natural end on this earth a lot quicker. Sleep restores energy levels, hormonal balance, and rejuvenates the mind and muscles.

Accumulating a “sleep debt” each night of the week and hoping you can pay it off by sleeping 16 hours per night on the weekends simply won’t work. While you can “make up” sleep, it’s a very long process, not something that’s taken care of with two days of full sleep on the weekends. If you have a “long-term” sleep debt, it could takes weeks to repay your body the sleep it’s missing, and if you’ve been going for years on little to no sleep, you better start taking sleep seriously now.

Poor Quality Sleep

This is probably the most common reason for people being tired. They might sleep 7-9 hours per night, but the quality of their sleep is rather poor. The quality of your sleep is affected by a number of things including room temperature, mental state, caffeine intake, etc. Also, if you find yourself waking up several times in the middle of the night as opposed to sleeping for 8 hours straight, you’re not really getting the “full” night of sleep.

To improve your quality of sleep at night, here’s a few things you can do:

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal 2 hours before going to bed
  • Reduce caffeine intake later in the day
  • Avoid alcohol consumption at night
  • Don’t exercise 2 hours prior to going to bed
  • Avoid “blue” light at night
  • Sleep in dark, cool room

Type 2 Diabetes

Fatigue is a extremely common symptom of individuals diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. [5] But, it’s not the only sign you should use to determine if you are diabetic.

You may also experience urination, unexplained weight loss, or excessive thirst. You’re going to need a blood test to really know whether or not you have Type 2 Diabetes, so it’s best to see your doctor if you’re feeling tired all the time, but it’s not one of the other reasons described in this list.

Thyroid Disorder

The thyroid is a small gland that produces a hormone that affects every cell of every tissue in the body. It’s one of the most important glands in your body, and if it’s not working properly, you may feel chronically fatigued. Feeling the impact of thyroid deficiency is a slow-moving process, so you might not notice it immediately. You may also experience unexplainable weight gain, moodiness, aches, or depression.

Thyroid disorder affects an estimated 20 million Americans each year, and is more common in women and older adults. A blood test is needed to diagnose a thyroid deficiency, so see your physician for a proper diagnosis.

Pregnancy

Feeling tired all the time is one of the earliest symptoms many women experience during pregnancy. During the first trimester, a female’s body produces high amounts a progesterone, a hormone that produce feelings of tiredness when out of balance in the body.

There are numerous other symptoms indicative of being pregnant (nausea, missed period, tender breasts, etc.), so if you’re feeling tired all the time, but not trying to get pregnant (or incapable of becoming pregnant if you’re a male), it’s probably not due to pregnancy. However, if you are a woman, and sexually active, you might want to consult your physician or get an OTC pregnancy test for confirmation.

Takeaway

Feeling tired all the time might be as simple to explain as chronic stress or lack of sleep, but it could also be indicative of something much more serious. If you’re plagued by chronic tiredness and fatigue, but can’t seem to get to the root of it, it’s time to pay a visit to your friendly neighborhood doctor.

Discuss your situation with him/her and address why you are really feeling tired all the time.

References
1) Greig AJ, Patterson AJ, Collins CE, Chalmers KA. Iron deficiency, cognition, mental health and fatigue in women of childbearing age: a systematic review. Journal of Nutritional Science. 2013;2:e14. doi:10.1017/jns.2013.7.
2) Youngstedt SD. Effects of exercise on sleep. Clin Sports Med. 2005;24(2):355-65, xi. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2004.12.003.
3) Leone SS. A disabling combination: fatigue and depression. Br J Psychiatry. 2010;197(2):86 LP-87.
4) Nimh.nih.gov. (2017). NIMH » Major Depression Among Adults. [online]
5) Jain A, Sharma R, Choudhary PK, Yadav N, Jain G, Maanju M. Study of fatigue, depression, and associated factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus in industrial workers. Industrial Psychiatry Journal. 2015;24(2):179-184. doi:10.4103/0972-6748.181731.