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Why Am I Always Tired?

Occasional tiredness is normal, especially after a schedule change or a late night. But if you’re feeling tired all the time, you may be severely impacting your ability to function at optimum levels. Feeling tired all the time likely means you’re struggling with sleep efficiency.

Sleep efficiency is the percentage of time spent in a deep sleep while you’re in bed. Normal sleep efficiency levels are 85% or higher. Less may signify a sleep disorder or medical condition.

Tiredness and Sleep Efficiency

People who aren’t hitting a high sleep efficiency mark are likely experiencing sleep deprivation, which can cause a host of mental and physical problems. For example, sleep is the period where your brain processes and catalogs the day’s events and turns them into memories. Not having this time can lead to short and long-term memory issues.

Sleep deprivation can also cause mood and behavioral changes, making a person feel moody, anxious, and even depressed. Being tired all the time also leads to brain fog, which can make it harder to perform daily duties at home and work. Brain fog contributes to poor concentration and focus, memory problems, and lack of mental clarity.

Physically, lack of sleep can weaken a person’s immune system and make them more susceptible to illness and disease. High blood pressure, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease are all associated with chronic sleep deprivation. Plus, the confusion and bad balance caused by poor sleep put a person at a higher risk of accidentally injuring themselves or others.

Medical Conditions and Tiredness

Several medical conditions can also contribute to decreased sleep quality. For example, sleep apnea is a condition where a person involuntarily stops breathing during the night.

Sometimes people with sleep apnea are awoken by their own gasping, choking, or snoring, which can disrupt sleep cycles. Sleep apnea can cause a person to feel tired upon waking because their sleep was consistently interrupted — even if they don’t remember it.

Other medical conditions that can lead to sleep apnea include autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, arthritis, and Sjögren syndrome. Additionally, persistent fatigue can be caused by mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.

Stress can have a direct effect on how tired you feel physically. When you anxiously ruminate or overwork your brain to the point of exhaustion, you burn through glucose — the brain’s fuel for working hard. This causes adenosine to rise, which blocks the release of the brain’s feel-good chemical, dopamine. Less dopamine leads to less motivation, which makes you less inclined to do anything mentally or physically, increasing overall fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Another underlying condition that causes extreme tiredness is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This causes exactly what it sounds like: chronic fatigue.

Chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t associated with any underlying disorders, though some specialists say it is induced by viral infections, stress, hormonal changes, or weakened immune systems. Women in their 40s and 50s tend to be the most commonly affected by this condition.

While everyone with CFS experiences different symptoms, it’s most commonly diagnosed when a person’s fatigue persists for at least six months and causes a significant reduction in their ability to perform everyday tasks.

Additionally, chronic fatigue can’t be cured by bed rest or significant periods of rest. CFS patients always wake up feeling tired, no matter how long they’ve slept. Chronic fatigue can manifest physically too, leading to muscle pain, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.

How to Stop Feeling Tired

If you’re feeling tired all the time, it might be time to change your sleeping, eating, and activity habits. Here’s how to stop feeling tired and improve your sleep quality to feel happier, healthier, and more well-rested.

Reduce Refined Foods and Increase Whole Foods

Most people understand that a balanced diet is important for maintaining physical health. But people don’t always associate unhealthy food with tiredness, even though it can be a major culprit of fatigue.

Reducing carbs like white breads, muffins, pastries, processed foods, and sweets can prevent bursts and dips in energy levels, especially when swapped for healthy foods like low-sugar fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

Change When and How You Eat

If you skip breakfast, you could be setting yourself up for a day of sleepiness. While some people wait until lunch to eat due to fasting diets or busy schedules, studies have shown it may increase inflammation throughout the body

The quantity that you eat plays a role in how tired you feel too. Overeating or under-eating can both cause fatigue, so it’s important to practice portion control when it comes to meals. Getting enough whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and vegetables can boost energy levels after mealtimes, rather than draining them.

Stay Active and Lower Stress

As mentioned above, stress is a major contributor to tiredness. It can also rob you of quality sleep by keeping you up late into the night.

Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat persistent stress. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, getting in a brisk 15-minute walk in the morning can boost circulation and increase cognitive sharpness, setting you up for an energized day.

While moving more may seem like the opposite of what you want to do when you’re tired, it works. “If you aren’t moving around, your body doesn’t need to use many resources to create energy, so energy production is low and you feel tired, fatigued, and unmotivated,” says doctor Roger Adams.

Once you start moving for at least 15 minutes, Adams says, your body will create enough energy to meet this demand. Another benefit of getting enough physical activity is that it can help you sleep better for longer.

Hydrate and Reduce Caffeine Intake

Many people turn to a cup of coffee for their morning energy boost, but this is a common cause of fatigue. There are several reasons why coffee causes low energy, especially when consumed regularly.

Mainly, coffee is a diuretic, meaning it causes a person to pass urine more often than normal. Diuretics can quickly lead to dehydration if a person isn’t drinking enough water. Dehydration increases heart rate and lowers blood pressure, both of which cause a person to feel more tired.

The negative effects of dehydration are why, even if you’re not a coffee drinker, getting enough water is essential to staying energized. One way to make sure you stay hydrated is to keep a glass of water or water bottle by your bedside or work table throughout the day. This way, getting enough water feels less like a chore and becomes a normal part of your everyday life.

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Get Your Energy Back

If you’re always feeling tired although you get enough sleep, it could be a sign that you’re suffering from a medical condition, so it’s important to talk to your doctor. But changing your daily habits can help you get back into dreamland faster. What you eat and how often you exercise are directly correlated with how tired you feel.

If you’re wondering how to stop feeling tired, you already have everything it takes to get back to feeling energized. Tiredness and sleep deprivation can have a major impact on your physical and mental health, so it’s important to take action and adopt healthy habits today.