Do you constantly feel like you’re dragging in the morning? It’s difficult to wake up and, when you finally do feel awake, you’ve only got a few hours until you feel that afternoon crash.
Do you regularly wonder, “Why am I tired all the time?”
Your tiredness may be related to lifestyle factors that you can easily resolve, a symptom of a more serious health problem, or a sign that you aren’t sleeping enough.
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What Is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a constant extreme tiredness that is lingering and limiting. When you have fatigue, you will have unexplained, persistent, and relapsing exhaustion. Because the symptoms are often vague, health care providers will ask you about the timing, what may be causing the tiredness, and the presence of sexual drive, as well as your sleep quality, exercise capacity, and medications.
Common Causes of Tiredness
Feeling tired may be the result of a health condition or problem interfering with the quality of your sleep. Adults should aim to get seven hours of sleep each night. Fatigue can result from many health conditions and lifestyle factors.
Health conditions that may make you tired include:
- Anxiety disorders.
- Acute liver failure.
- Heart disease.
- Chronic kidney disease.
Lifestyle factors that may be making you feel wiped out:
- Unhealthy eating habits.
- Excess physical activity.
- Lack of physical activity.
- Not enough sleep.
- Alcohol or drug use.
Anemia is when your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells and is common in women who have heavy menstrual periods. Iron deficiency is a common cause of anemia. If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat much red meat or iron-rich foods, you may experience anemia. Dizziness and irritability are other signs of anemia. Your doctor can diagnose it with a blood test and recommend a solution. Sometimes, taking iron supplements or adding more iron-rich foods to your diet can increase your energy.
Medication side effects
Many conditions can cause you to feel tired or fatigued. If you’ve noticed that your energy levels have dropped dramatically after starting a new medication, you may want to talk to your health care provider. Antidepressants and other treatments for mood or neurological conditions can also cause fatigue. Your provider may be able to prescribe an alternative medication if the tiredness is interfering with your daily activities. You may be experiencing fatigue if you are taking medications for:
- Blood pressure
People with obesity tend to have more tiredness during the day than people with a normal weight. Obesity increases the risk of sleep apnea, but research has found that even without sleep apnea people who are extremely overweight still have more daytime fatigue. Obesity combined with lower physical activity also may increase tiredness.
Depression, chronic anxiety, or day-to-day stress
When you suffer from depression or even stress because of things going on at work or home, your sleep habits can suffer. Depression and sleep problems, particularly insomnia, can put you into a difficult cycle where one problem compounds the other. Having a health care provider who can address both problems can help you get the best results.
Not sleeping enough can leave you feeling tired, grumpy, and less productive. Common sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome, can interrupt your nightly sleep, leaving you feeling less-than-refreshed in the morning.
Make sure to keep a regular sleep schedule each day. Irregular bedtimes can weaken your body’s internal clock — so your body doesn’t know when to wake or rest.
Tips for Better Sleep
Everyone has different sleep patterns, but here are a few tips to help you get better sleep:
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink.
- Limit daytime naps.
- Create a restful environment.
- Make a sleep schedule.
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Getting Help for Sleep Trouble
Talk to your health care provider if you feel tired often. Your provider may refer you to a sleep medicine specialist for a more detailed analysis. Once you understand the cause of your fatigue and get treatment, you can begin to rest easy again. Healthy sleep habits are an important part of your overall health.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
About Sleep Medicine
Millions of Americans struggle with disorders that prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep. Better sleep can lead to better overall health, and the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center is here to help. We diagnose and treat numerous sleep conditions or disorders. We also provide help to people suffering from lack of sleep because of other health problems. We recognize a lack of sleep can cause problems during other times of the day, including alertness, memory, and health immunity. We hold sleep studies and lead clinical trials, all in the name of helping you sleep. Find a provider near you.