Why Am I So Tired?

How to Beat 9 Common Causes of Fatigue

January 29, 2019
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Do you often feel fatigued during the day for seemingly no reason at all? Here are some of the most common causes of fatigue—and how to overcome them!

Why Am I So Tired?

You’ve tossed and turned for nights or, even worse, got a seemingly good night’s sleep, only to awake feeling sluggish and exhausted. Everyone goes through periods of fatigue. Life events and everyday stressors are often to blame. But when those occasional bouts become chronic and interfere with life, it’s time to consider the factors that could be contributing to the problem.

1. Lack of Sleep

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans say they don’t get enough sleep. Experts recommend seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for adults 18 and older.

Lack of sleep can be a real game-changer, making a simple flight of stairs feel like a summit attempt at Everest. But there are a few things you can do to turn bedtime around. At least an hour before bed, put all devices away. The blue light they emit is like an alarm clock sent directly to your brain to “Wake up!” Keep a routine and go to bed at the same time each night in a darkened, cool room.

2. No Java Jolt

If caffeine is always your go-to when fatigue sets in, beware. You’ve just entered a vicious cycle of instant energy followed by an inevitable crash when caffeine’s effects begin to wear off, leaving you no better off than the moment before you took your first sip. This stimulant leaves many people craving even more sugar and caffeine, amplifying the anxiety and fatigue.

That doesn’t mean all caffeine is off-limits. Avoid going cold turkey with this one; it’s better to taper off gradually to avoid symptoms of withdrawal. As with all things, aim for moderation. One cup of coffee in the morning is okay, but after that, try decaffeinated. Or, if you’re making a pot in the morning, try mixing your coffee so it’s half decaffeinated.

3. Dehydration

If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated and that can lead to fatigue and weakness. Urine doesn’t lie and one need look no further than the toilet to know the status of your hydration. Clear or light yellow and you’re golden (no pun intended). Dark or cloudy and you need water. Aim for six to eight glasses a day, more if you’re exercising.

4. Too Few Calories

A calorie deficit can trigger all kinds of symptoms, and fatigue is at the top of that list. Think of it this way: you fuel a car to get you where you need to go, the same is true for the body. Without enough calories, your engine ceases and you’re left feeling lethargic. It’s quality, not quantity here. Avoid sugary or fatty foods and opt for healthier choices. Refined sugar, while great for that quick burst, is always followed with a crash. You want sustained energy. Things like nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies are excellent choices.

5. Not Enough Exercise (or Too Much)

Provided there’s no known medical condition contributing to your fatigue, exercise could be the answer. It sounds counterintuitive, but elevating that heart rate and engaging in activities like yoga, light resistance training, and daily walking can do wonders for your state of mind as well as your energy level. You may also experience more restful sleep.

Overexercising can have the opposite affect and exacerbate fatigue. See your doctor to come up with a plan of action that works for you.

6. Sleep Apnea

Have you ever been told you snore? It’s possible you may have sleep apnea, a condition where throughout sleep, there are brief periods when breathing stops. Most people are unaware of it, but it can cause snoring, fatigue, and weight gain. Smoking and alcohol consumption make it worse. See your doctor to rule out the condition. You’ll likely undergo a sleep study and your doctor may prescribe a CPAP device, which helps open airways while you’re sleeping.

7. Food Allergies

If you feel sluggish or sleepy after eating certain foods, it could be a food intolerance. An elimination diet will help pin-point the culprit by removing the suspected food from your diet and monitoring energy levels. After several days, reintroduce the food. If fatigue returns, bingo! Talk with your doctor for tips on an elimination diet.


8. Shift-Work Sleep Disorder

Night shifts and rotating shifts really do a number on the circadian rhythm, your body’s 24-hour clock. Confusion like this can send your sleep pattern into a tailspin. Best to sleep in a cool, quiet and darkened room. Avoid caffeine and try to follow a regular sleep schedule when possible.

9. Medical Causes

When you’ve ruled out everything within your control, it may be time to consult a doctor. Anemia, depression, hypothyroidism, infection, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are among the many conditions that can present with symptoms of fatigue and listlessness. 

Certain medications, like antihistamines and cough medicines, can also drag you down. 

Now that you know the most common causes of fatigue, hopefully you can take the steps necessary to remedy the situation! Let us know what works best for you in the comments below.

Learn More

Speaking of remedies, check out Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Stress, Natural Remedies for Migraines, and Remedies for Nighttime Leg Cramps.

About This Blog

Heather Blackmore is a stay-at-home mom with two teenage daughters who keep her on her toes. A former college rugby player, she’s continued her healthy, active lifestyle by focusing on the importance of movement, nutrition and teaching her children the value of hard work. For 20 years, she’s enjoyed writing for national and regional publications on a variety of family and home related topics. Blessed with a wicked green thumb and a determined spirit, Heather tends a perennial and vegetable garden in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. She writes about her garden successes, failures and observations on her blog Here She Grows.