Why Am I So Tired And Sleepy All The Time?

There’s a myriad of things that can lead to you being tired and sleepy all the time. Not all of them are medical conditions. Sometimes, it’s caused by certain lifestyle choices that are made. This article delves into some of the medical and non-medical reasons that may be causing your constant tiredness.

Before we dive in, you need to understand that tiredness and sleepiness is the body’s natural response when it has used up a lot of energy. It has to recuperate after expending so much energy. If you are going through a season of high energy work, it may be normal for you to be tired. The problem is when you are tired even when you have been laying in bed all day.

sleepy all the time

Lifestyle Choices

There are a few choices that we make that could make us tired and sleepy all the time. These choices are easily modifiable and if you happen to do some of these things, stopping or altering your actions may very well be the solution to your sleepiness.

1. Sleep Hygiene

Most people have really bad sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is needed to have restful sleep which leads to being alert during the day. If the sleep isn’t restful, then the body is going to try to catch-up by trying to sleep during the day, thus, you have the daytime sleepiness.

Sleep hygiene is the collection of habits that we do to help us get a good night’s sleep. Some of these habits are

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always tired

  • Having a consistent time to go to bed at night and get up in the morning.
  • Not watching T.V in bed.
  • Not laying awake in bed worrying or problem-solving.
  • Sleeping in a quiet, dark and cool room on a comfortable bed.
  • Not using electronic devices like laptops and phones in bed.
  • Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes just before bed.
  • Having a relaxing bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath or meditating.

As you may have observed, you might be consistently doing some of the don’ts in practicing good sleep hygiene. Changing this behavior may just be all you need to sleep well at night so you could be awake and strong the next day.

2. Diet

Another common thing people do that may be causing constant fatigue is ingesting things that are bad for them. The major culprit is refined carbohydrates found in foods such as white pasta, white rice, baked goods, burgers, pizza…. The list is so long! Most of what is eaten in the western diet are refined carbohydrates.

Refined carbs are foods that have been stripped of their wholesome goodness like fiber and nutrients leaving only simple sugars. These simple sugars are easily broken down by the body to release energy quickly. However, this surge of energy is quickly followed by exhaustion which is why we get so tired. We notice this tiredness and feel we need more energy, so we eat again and the cycle continues.

Changing your diet to more whole grains like oats, barley, brown bread, brown rice, vegetables, and legumes would cause a gradual and longer lasting energy release which would leave you feeling less tired and sleepy.

Low-calorie diets as well can cause tiredness simply because you aren’t getting enough energy supply. When trying to lose weight, your diet should be calorie-restricted so your body can burn up its fat stores. However, the diet you choose should have enough calories to sustain you. If you notice persistent tiredness while on a certain diet, you may have to modify your meals to contain more energy supplying foods such as berries, bananas, and whole grains.

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It is also advised that you see a doctor or a nutritionist before deciding which weight loss diet you should embark on.

3. Hydration

Water is so important to our well-being, yet it is often times not taken seriously. Every single cellular process in our body requires water, that’s why two-thirds of our body is made of water. Good hydration is what makes our body function well, keeps our skin supple and, concerning this conversation, keeps us energetic.

When we get dehydrated, the processes that need to go on in our bodies slow down, meaning we slow down as well. Think about it like this, it’s much easier to swim in a pool than in a puddle! (Assuming the pool has more water than the puddle).

Previously, the recommendation was the 8 x 8 rule – eight 8-ounce cups of water daily. Now the recommendation is that you drink according to your weight. Divide your weight in pounds by 2, what you get is the amount of water you should drink daily in ounces. For example, if I weigh 150 pounds, I should drink 75 ounces of water daily which is a little over 9 cups of water. You are also supposed to increase your intake by 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise.

Pure water is also better than soda, coffee or tea. This is because the body uses water as a carrier when trying to remove the contents of these drinks. You might actually take in 3 liters of soda but the body has excreted 2 liters of water in trying to get rid of the excess sugar. Simple is always better than complicated! You can’t go wrong with pure water.

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4. Energy Drinks

In this time we can get everything we need at the speed of thought, the use of energy drinks has greatly increased. Taking only one drink can give us energy lasting several hours and we can do all we have decided to do. The problem is the aftermath effect. Just like refined sugars, there is an energy crash afterward that could leave us feeling so tired and worn out. The body released this great burst of energy at the snap of a finger, so it is normal for it to try to recuperate.

Constantly taking these energy drinks could eventually lead to a point where the body can’t release the energy you request of it causing you to feel tired all the time. The best thing to do is to limit consumption of these drinks, and if possible eliminate its use.

It is always better to turn to more wholesome foods and drinks as your source of energy because, in the end, the body only benefits from that which it was designed to consume in the first place.

5. Exercise

Living a sedentary lifestyle is so easy to do these days. You can literally do everything on the computer such that you need not leave your home to survive. It saves time and energy that can be directed into more productive things. The effect on us, however, has greatly reduced our activity levels. We do minimal physical work, yet we are too tired to do any exercise.

Have you noticed that those who exercise seem to have more energy than those who don’t? Studies have shown that a lack of exercise leads to fatigue and exercise can reduce fatigue. The reason you may be feeling tired is that you don’t exercise enough (or at all!)

The human body follows the law of use and disuse. Your body may have decreased the amount of energy it releases because you haven’t been using the energy it previously supplied. To get more energy, you may have to move it, move it!

6. Stress

Stress can come in various flavors – emotional, physical, mental, and physiologic –all of which can lead to fatigue if not checked. Multiple studies have shown that if stress is not relieved, it could lead to feelings of constant tiredness.

Stress is sometimes unavoidable, such as a job or certain life circumstances, that’s why it’s recommended that you manage your stress by doing some stress-reducing activities such as –

  • Taking deep, cleansing breaths in the heat of the stress
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Taking a stroll along a scenic route
  • Going on a much-needed vacation

Medical Causes

If you ask any doctor the commonest complaint at a doctor’s visit, they would probably tell you fatigue. Tiredness is associated with almost all diseases because of the energy your body is expending trying to fight off the illness.

The common cold which is maybe the least severe in the illness spectrum can leave you feeling very tired, so if you have a medical condition, that may be the reason for your tiredness.

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There are some chronic conditions that are particularly associated with tiredness, some of which I would now proceed to explain.

1. Anemia

Anemia is having a decreased number of red blood cells. Red blood cells are the cells that carry the oxygen from your lungs to the other body cells so they can generate energy. Low red blood cells mean oxygen isn’t distributed adequately leading to lower energy levels.

There are so many reasons why your red blood cells can get low. This is why you need to see your doctor to run some simple tests to figure out if you have anemia and what the cause is.

2. Anxiety

Being anxious about something once in a while is generally normal. Constantly being anxious about nothing in particular over a long period of time, however, is considered a medical condition. This anxiety can lead to insomnia which means you don’t get enough restful sleep. This leads to you feeling tired and sleepy during the day.

If you feel anxious all the time, you might need to see a psychiatrist. Not because you are crazy, but because they are better suited to help you get to the bottom of your anxiety and possibly prescribe medication that you can use to control it.

3. Hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland is a very important gland that sits in front of your neck and is usually not visible. It secretes hormones that determine the rate at which your body functions – your basal metabolic rate.

In hypothyroidism, the gland secretes less than it should, causing your body to function at a slower pace. The effect of this is that you are slower, easily tired, colder, constipated, gaining weight and you have dry skin.

If you have noticed these other symptoms in addition to feeling tired and sleepy, you may have hypothyroidism. It is a fairly common condition especially in women of the reproductive age.

Please see your doctor who would run some tests to check your thyroid hormone levels to determine if this is the case. A daily pill should get your hormones back to the right level and your body functioning as it should.

4. Depression

Clinical depression is really easy to miss especially if you have a reason to feel sad like the loss of a loved one. The length of time and the severity of the sadness you experience is what may clue in doctors to diagnosing depression. It is also very common for a life situation to push a person into depression.

One of the major symptoms of depression is constant tiredness which may occur with a change in sleep pattern to excessive sleepiness or insomnia. There’s also a loss of interest in things previously enjoyed, feelings of guilt, loss of appetite, loss of concentration and in really severe cases, thoughts of suicide.

This combination of symptoms requires a doctor’s visit for a possible mental health evaluation. If you have been having suicidal thoughts please head to the emergency room immediately. Talking to a professional might help you greatly.

5. Sleep Disorders

Any form of sleep disorder can cause sleepiness simply because you aren’t sleeping well. One night of poor sleep can leave you very tired and sleepy the next day; imagine what one week would do to you. Now imagine weeks, months and years of poor sleep.  The effect could be devastating because you begin to feel fractured and not quite right.

Sleep is very important for our daily functioning which is why a third of our day should be dedicated to it. If you have noticed you have poor quality of sleep or you are not able to sleep at all, please see a physician to evaluate you. You may have obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia that is being caused by something which is treatable.

6. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

CFS is a medical disorder where you have extreme tiredness and weakness which gets worse after some physical or mental activity and is not relieved by rest. There is currently no known cause or cure for it but its symptoms can be managed.

Some other symptoms include poor sleep, muscle, and joint pains, headaches and sore throat. These symptoms are very similar to a viral infection so if you experience these symptoms you may have a viral disease. It is always better to consult with your doctor who will run tests to figure out what exactly is causing your symptoms.

As you can see, so many things can cause you to feel tired and sleepy all the time but the thing that’s important for you to do is to see your doctor if you feel you have a medical condition that may be causing it. Better still; see your doctor for a complete physical if you haven’t done so already.

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Dr. Oyinkansola Kolawole

Dr. Oyinkan has a degree in medicine and surgery. Her passion in life is to help people in all the ways she can including breaking down difficult to understand medical facts into simple and fun bits of information.
Dr. Oyinkansola Kolawole
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