Feeling tired on a regular basis is extremely common. In fact, about one-third of healthy teens, adults and older individuals report feeling sleepy or fatigued.
Fatigue is a common symptom of several conditions and serious diseases, but in most cases, it is caused by simple lifestyle factors.
Fortunately, these are most often easy things to fix.
Here are some potential reasons why you’re always tired and provides recommendations for ways to get your energy back.
1. Consuming Too Many Refined Carbs
2. Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
3. Not Getting Enough High-Quality Sleep
4. Food Sensitivities
5. Not Eating Enough Calories
6. Sleeping at the Wrong Time
7. Not Getting Enough Protein
8. Inadequate Hydration
9. Relying on Energy Drinks
There’s no shortage of beverages that promise to provide quick energy.
Popular energy drinks typically include the following:
- Amino acids
- Large doses of B vitamins
Energy drinks contain caffeine and other ingredients that can provide a temporary energy boost but often lead to rebound fatigue.
10. High-Stress Levels
Excessive stress can cause fatigue and reduce your quality of life. Practising stress-reduction techniques may help improve your energy levels.
11. Medical conditions
Some of the most common conditions that report fatigue as a key symptom include:
- underactive thyroid
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- urinary tract infection
- food intolerance
- heart disease
- glandular fever
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies
If you are concerned that you have a medical condition that is causing you to feel tired, arrange an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your worries as soon as possible.
What You Can Do About It
1. If you struggle to fit in 7 hours of sleep, here are some tips to help you achieve a full dose of much-needed slumber:
- Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning — even on the weekends.
- Avoid naps. We need a certain amount of sleep within a 24-hour period and no more than that. Napping reduces the amount of sleep that we require the following night, which might lead to difficulty getting to sleep and fragmented sleep.
- Limit time awake in bed to 5–10 minutes. If you find that you are lying awake in bed worrying or with your mind racing, get out of bed and sit in the dark until you are feeling sleepy, then go back to bed.
- Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature. Any light that enters your room could disturb your sleep. Ensure that your room is dark and that light emitted from digital devices is out of sight. Cooler room temperatures are considered better to promote sleep than warmer temperatures.
- Limit caffeinated drinks. Try not to consume caffeinated beverages afternoon. The stimulating effects of caffeine can last for many hours after intake and cause issues with initiating sleep.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol before bed. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol before going to bed may cause fragmented sleep.
2. You can switch up your eating style today by implementing some of these small changes:
- Eat the right amount of calories for your sex, age, weight, and activity level. Eating either too much or too little can make you feel sluggish.
- Fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Be sure to focus on eating whole fruits and a selection of vegetables.
- Ensure whole grains make up half the grains you consume. Examples of whole grains include brown rice, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, bulgur, and whole-wheat flour.
- Shift to low-fat and fat-free dairy to help limit your calories from saturated fats.
- Vary your protein routine. Try to choose lean poultry and meat, limit processed meats, choose unsalted nuts and seeds, and select some omega-3-rich seafood.
- Cut down on sugar. Sugar can give you a quick rush of energy, but it wears off fast and might make you feel more tired. Avoid foods and drinks that have lots of added sugar.
- Never skip breakfast. Regularly skipping breakfast can lead to you missing out on key nutrients and the energy that you need to kick-start your day.
- Eat at regular intervals. Sustain your energy levels by eating three meals per day and limiting unhealthful snacks.
- Drink enough water. Drinking water can help to prevent dehydration, which results in fatigue, unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, and constipation.
3. If the pressures that you face are making you feel overtired or giving you headaches, migraines, or tense muscles, don’t ignore these signals. Take some time out until you feel calmer, or try some of these tips.
- Identify the source of stress. Until you can recognize what is causing you to create and maintain stress, you will be unable to control your stress levels.
- Keep a stress journal to identify patterns and common themes.
- Learn to say no. Never take on too much — be aware of your limits and stick to them.
- Avoid those who stress you out. If there is someone in your life causing you a significant amount of stress, try to spend less time in their company.
- Communicate your concerns. Learn to express your feelings and concerns instead of keeping them bottled up if something is bothering you.
- View situations in a different way. Try to look at stressful situations in a more positive light. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, see it as an opportunity to have some alone time and listen to your favourite tunes.
- Look at the bigger picture. Think about whether the stressful situation will matter in a month’s time. Is it worth getting upset about?
- Accept the things you are unable to change. Some sources of stress, such as an illness or the death of a loved one, are unavoidable. Often, the best way to deal with stress is to try and accept things the way they are.
- Learn to forgive. We are all human and often make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentments, and negative energy by forgiving friends, family, and colleagues and moving on.
The Bottom Line
There are many possible causes for feeling chronically tired. It’s important to rule out medical conditions first, as fatigue often accompanies illness.
However, feeling overly tired may be related to what you eat and drink, how much activity you get or the way you manage stress.
The good news is that making a few lifestyle changes may very well improve your energy levels and overall quality of life.