10 reasons why you are constantly tired

Do you find yourself constantly fighting the urge to doze off?


Marianna Kilburn
Qualified Life Coach
@MariannaKilburn
Ask Marianna


10 August 2015

10 reasons why you are constantly tired

Reluctantly dragging yourself out of bed in the morning and yawning all day at work? You are not alone. The number of visits to doctors about feeling constantly tired, lethargic and lacking in energy is on the rise.

Most of us put this constant tiredness down to a hectic lifestyle, pressures at work, running around after the kids and late bedtimes, but there are many causes that you may not have considered including:

1. Sleeping problems

First things first – not sleeping is obviously going to cause you to feel tired, and if you are consistently not sleeping you are never going to get that spring back into your step. There are many reasons why people do not sleep well at night, ranging from checking emails just before bedtime to having a poor bedtime routine.

If you can identify the cause of your lack of sleep, finding a solution just becomes so much easier. Conversely, too much sleep can also make you feel tired. This might seem a bit anti-intuitive but sleeping too much knocks your biological clock off, leaving you feeling sluggish during the day. This goes for napping too, which gives your body a false sense that bedtime is approaching. It is better to get into the routine of sleeping a solid seven-and-a-half to nine hours at night.

2. Poor diet and dehydration

The energy our body uses comes from the food that we eat, so it makes sense that if our diet is lacking in the necessary nutrients our energy will also begin to dwindle. Eating foods high in refined sugar can cause energy surges and slumps. Each time your blood sugar surges it sinks lower than it was before, meaning that you get more and more tired as the day goes on.

If you don’t eat enough, your body will not have the calories it requires in order to provide you with energy throughout the day, while too much food can cause you to feel sluggish. A balanced diet consisting of complex carbohydrates , good fats and protein should provide your body with the calories it needs, but not excess, meaning that you should feel energized throughout the day.

Dehydration is another major cause of tiredness and fatigue . Water makes up the majority of your blood and body fluids, so even mild dehydration causes your blood to thicken slightly, forcing your heart to pump harder and faster. This can quickly result in fatigue.

3. Exercise

When you are feeling tired and lethargic, often the last thing you really feel like doing is getting up and exercising. However, lack of exercise has been found to be linked with constant feelings of tiredness. Additionally, if you do something a little more strenuous after not having exercised well in a while, this will leave you feeling a lot more drained than you should.

If you do begin to exercise more, it is important to make sure your diet reflects this, as if you are exercising without having consumed the necessary calories, you can experience dizziness and exhaustion. The recommended daily allowance of calories should be sufficient for a moderate amount of exercise.

4. Caffeine and Alcohol

If you are relying on cups of coffee to get you through the day, this might just be the problem. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it does give you a boost of energy. However, like sugary foods, the drop in energy afterwards leaves you feeling lethargic. Also, if you drink coffee regularly, your body gets used to the stimulant and its effects diminish, meaning that your cup of coffee won’t even give you that short-lived burst of energy.

Also, if you drink coffee regularly, your body gets used to the stimulant and its effects diminish, meaning that your cup of coffee won’t even give you that short-lived burst of energy. Instead, you could try de-caffeinated coffee, or a coffee substitute such as Bambu® which is made from chicory, figs and barley.

Alcohol is another stimulant that can quickly cause a slump in energy. Additionally, it dehydrates the body leaving you with headaches, grogginess and nausea, none of which makes you feel sprightly and energised for the day ahead.

5. Food intolerances and coeliac disease

Even if you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, your body may not be reaping the benefits if you have a food intolerance.

Food intolerances occur when the digestive system is unable to absorb certain food types, such as lactose or gluten (while a food allergy is a reaction of the immune system). With a food intolerance, you are not only unable to receive the nutrients from the food, but your digestive tract can become inflamed and irritated too.

Coeliac disease is not a food allergy or an intolerance, but an autoimmune condition which can result in similar, though often more severe symptoms of an intolerance. It occurs when the immune system begins to attack healthy tissue of the digestive system in reaction to the presence of gluten. Constant tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of this condition.

6. Anaemia

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common type of anaemia and is a condition in which the body lacks the iron required to produce new red blood cells. If the number of red blood cells in the body drops, then not enough oxygen will be transported to the organs and tissues, leaving you feeling lethargic and drained.

This type of anaemia is most common amongst pregnant women or those with heavy periods. It can also occur as a result of a stomach ulcer or other conditions of the digestive tract. Not consuming enough iron in the diet can also be a cause, and is of particular concern for vegetarians and vegans. A blood test will be able to diagnose iron deficiency anaemia, which can usually be easily treated.

7. Underactive Thyroid

One of the most common medical conditions that can result in constant tiredness is an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid gland produces hormones which primarily regulate the body’s metabolism and digestive system. When the thyroid gland is underactive, these hormones are not being produced as effectively, which is why weight gain, as well as lethargy, is extremely common with hypothyroidism.

Thyroid problems can easily be identified through blood testing, and treated with hormone therapy or medication to provide the body with the hormones that the thyroid gland is struggling to produce.

8. Glandular Fever

Known as ‘kissing disease’ as this is how it is often transmitted, glandular fever is a virus that normally lasts 2-3 weeks, then causes no further problems. However, in around 10% of people with glandular fever, constant fatigue can persist for 6 months or more after the infection, though there is no clear reason why this can occur.

Generally speaking, ensuring you eat a healthy balanced diet, and exercise regularly, in moderation, is often the best way to alleviate the symptoms.

9. Diabetes

Another medical condition which should be considered if you are constantly feeling tired is diabetes. The feelings of fatigue are most common or extreme after mealtimes with diabetes, often because the body is struggling to regulate the glucose levels in the bloodstream.

Diabetes is a common condition, and should be treated under supervision of a medical professional. Some people are able to manage their condition through a careful diet, while others are dependent on insulin injections.

10. Mood problems

Stress, anxiety, low mood and feelings of constant tiredness can often be the result of mood problems. Feeling mentally under pressure can leave you feeling drained, and even if you do take time to relax, many people find it hard to really switch off.

However, tiredness can also make you feel more irritable or emotional, so trying to decide whether your mood problems are causing the fatigue, or your lethargy causing the mood problems can be a difficult one to de-tangle.

So if you thought that it was just too many late nights causing you to feel constantly tired, you may just discover that there are other factors which can play a role too.

See if you can find the cause of your tiredness to let you get that bounce and energy back into your life.

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