Reasons You Feel Sleepy and Tired All the Time and What to Do About It​

Many factors can be contributing to your daytime sleepiness. 
It’s possible you’re not getting enough sleep because of an underlying health issue, like sleep apnea. 
Here are possible reasons why you may feel tired and sleepy all the time.

Lack of sleep
Late nights can take a toll on your energy level. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. 
If you get into a habit of staying up late, you’re putting yourself at risk for sleep deprivation. 
Practice better sleep habits to boost your energy. Go to bed earlier and take steps to improve the quality of your sleep. 
Sleep in a dark, quiet, and comfortable room. Avoid stimulating activities before bed, like exercise and watching TV.

Young woman bored with her boyfriend snoring

Sleep apnea
A sleep disorder like sleep apnea can be causing your tiredness. Sleep apnea is when your breathing pauses while you’re asleep. 
As a result, your brain and body don’t receive enough oxygen at night. This can lead to daytime fatigue. 
Consult your doctor.
Lose weight if you’re overweight, quit smoking, and you may need an oral device to keep the upper airway open while you’re asleep. 

Not enough fuel
If you tend to skip meals, you may not be getting the calories you need to keep your energy up. 
Long gaps in between meals can cause your blood sugar to drop, decreasing your energy. 
Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.
It’s important not to skip meals. In fact, you should also eat healthy energy-boosting snacks between meals, especially when you start to feel sluggish. 
Healthy snack options include bananas, peanut butter, whole-grain crackers, protein bars, dried fruit, and nuts.

Anemia is one of the leading causes of fatigue in women. Menstrual blood loss can cause an iron deficiency, putting women at risk.  Red blood cells (as shown in image)  are needed because they carry oxygen to your tissues and organs.​
For anemia caused by an iron deficiency, taking iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods, such as lean meat, liver, shellfish, beans, and enriched cereal, can help after consulting a doctor

You may think of depression as an emotional disorder, but it contributes to many physical symptoms, as well. 
Fatigue, headaches, and loss of appetite are among the most common symptoms. If you feel tired and “down” for more than a few weeks, see your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication. You might also benefit from mental health counseling.

The thyroid gland controls your metabolism, the speed at which your body converts fuel into energy. 
When the gland is underactive and the metabolism functions too slowly, you may feel sluggish and put on weight.
If a blood test confirms your thyroid hormones are low, your doctor will prescribe synthetic hormones can bring you up to speed.

Cup of coffee on ground coffee background. Closeup.

Too much caffeine
Caffeine can improve alertness and concentration in moderate doses. But too much can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and jitteriness. 
And research indicates too much actually causes fatigue in some people.
Gradually cut back on coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, and any medications that contain caffeine. 
Stopping suddenly can cause caffeine withdrawal and more fatigue.

A hidden UTI
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you’re probably familiar with the burning pain and sense of urgency. 
But the infection does not always announce itself with such obvious symptoms. In some cases, fatigue may be the only sign. A urine test can quickly confirm a UTI.
Antibiotics are the cure for UTIs, and the fatigue will usually vanish within a week.

Feeling tired all the time can also be a symptom of diabetes. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin. This can cause high blood sugar, which can affect your concentration and leave you feeling fatigued and irritable.​
Treatments for diabetes may include lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, insulin therapy, and medications to help the body process sugar.

Your fatigue can be a sign of dehydration. 
Whether you’re working out or working a desk job, your body needs water to work well and keep cool. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Drink water throughout the day so your urine is light colored. 
Have at least two cups of water an hour or more before a planned physical activity. 
Then, sip throughout your workout, and afterward drink another two cups.

Heart disease
When fatigue strikes during everyday activities, such as cleaning the house or weeding the yard, it can be a sign that your heart is no longer up to the job. 
If you notice it’s becoming increasingly difficult to finish tasks that were once easy, talk to your doctor about heart disease.
Lifestyle changes, medication, and therapeutic procedures can get heart disease under control and restore your energy.

Shift work sleep disorder
Working nights or rotating shifts can disrupt your internal clock. 
You may feel tired when you need to be awake. And you may have trouble sleeping during the day
Limit your exposure to daylight when you need to rest. Make your room dark, quiet, and cool. 
Still having sleep issues? Talk with your doctor. Supplements and medications may help.

Food allergy
Some doctors believe hidden food allergies can make you sleepy. 
If your fatigue intensifies after meals, you could have a mild intolerance to something you’re eating — not enough to cause itching or hives, just enough to make you tired.
Try eliminating foods one at a time to see if your fatigue improves. 
You can also ask your doctor about a food allergy test.

Chronic fatigue syndrome/ Fibromyalgia
If your fatigue lasts more than six months and is so severe that you can’t manage your daily activities, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia are a possibility. 
Both can have various symptoms, but persistent, unexplained exhaustion is a main one.
While there’s no quick fix for CFS or fibromyalgia, patients often benefit from changing their daily schedule, learning better sleep habits, and starting a gentle exercise program.

Sometimes, medication can cause you to feel tired all the time. Think back to when you first noticed daytime sleepiness. 
Was this around the time when you started a new medication?
Check drug labels to see if fatigue is a common side effect. If so, talk to your doctor. 
They might be able to prescribe another drug or reduce your dosage.

Chronic stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, stomach problems, and fatigue. 
When under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This causes an increase in cortisol and adrenaline, which is safe in small doses. 
In chronic or ongoing stress, it takes a toll on your body’s resources.
Learning how to control stress may improve your energy level. 
Start by setting limitations, creating realistic goals, and practicing changes to your thought patterns. 
Deep breathing and meditation can also help you stay calm in stressful situations.

Being overweight
Being overweight can also cause tiredness. 
The more weight you carry, the harder your body must work to complete everyday tasks like climbing stairs or cleaning.
How can you lose weight and improve your energy levels? Start with light exercise and gradually increase intensity. 
Eat more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Curb your intake of sugar, junk foods, and fatty foods. 
Exercise is key to losing weight and improving energy levels.

Vitamin Deficiency
Being tired all the time can also be a sign of vitamin deficiency. 
This could include low levels of vitamin D, vitamin B-12, iron, magnesium, or potassium. A routine blood test can help identify a deficiency.
Your doctor may recommend taking supplements. 
You can also increase your intake of certain foods to correct a deficiency naturally. 
For example, eating clams, beef, and liver may reverse a B-12 deficiency.

Fast Fix for Mild Fatigue
If you have mild fatigue that isn’t linked to any medical condition, the solution may be exercise. 
Research suggests healthy but tired adults can get a significant energy boost from a modest workout program. 
In one study, participants rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes at a mild pace. Doing this just three times a week was enough to fight fatigue.

Disclaimer: The advice provided is intended for informational purpose only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.  Consult with your doctor if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.​

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Rithika Rajgopal

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