Tired All the Time? Here Are 10 Possible Reasons Why

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According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, 18.3% of respondents reported struggling with excessive daytime sleepiness. However, this issue is thought to be even more common than that among the general population of US adults.

Countless Americans feel tired all the time as a result of physical, mental, and lifestyle factors. Fatigue can have a significant impact on your daily life. It can prevent you from doing your best at work while restricting your ability to enjoy your favorite hobbies or time with friends and family.    

Evaluate where your fatigue is coming from so you can potentially address the cause of the issue. Here are 10 reasons why you might be tired all the time. 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing, “stops and restarts many times while you sleep,” according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Patients can develop central sleep apnea, where the brain essentially forgets to tell the lungs to breathe while they sleep, or obstructive sleep apnea, where the airways become blocked. 

Apnea can disrupt your sleep patterns by forcing you awake when your brain realizes you aren’t breathing, leading to daytime tiredness, but it can also reduce the flow of oxygen through your body.

If you experience low-quality sleep, snore, or gasp during your sleep, you might want to consult a doctor. They can conduct a sleep study and issue a formal diagnosis of the type of sleep apnea you have.    

Natural Alternatives to CPAP for Sleep Apnea

If you receive a CPAP diagnosis, your doctor might recommend using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. These machines don’t provide oxygen but rather pressure to encourage the body to continue breathing through the night. However, not all CPAP machines are safe. Some companies have recalled their machines because the materials used can emit cancerous chemicals. This has caused many patients to worry whether their CPAP machines can cause cancer

There are alternative treatments to reduce the impact of sleep apnea on your life. Doctors often recommend sleeping on your side to keep your airways clear or losing weight — especially if you carry a lot of weight on your chest and stomach that puts pressure on your lungs. These steps could prevent you from needing CPAP assistance. 

Insufficient Sleep

Sleep allows your body to recover physically and mentally from the day. However, nearly 40 percent of Americans get fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. Some people experience minor sleep deprivation that lasts a night or two, while others experience major sleep deprivation that lasts for months. This latter condition could be caused by a new baby that is keeping parents up, a late work schedule, or simply bad habits that prevent people from going to sleep when they should.  

Good sleep hygiene is essential for waking up well-rested. If you experience insufficient sleep, try setting an alarm to know when it’s time to go to bed, avoiding screens for 30 minutes before turning off the light, or sticking to a routine, such as showering and doing skin care before bed, so you can tell your brain it’s time to sleep. 

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. The body doesn’t have enough iron, so red blood cell production slows down. Not only can this cause fatigue, but it can also leave you feeling out of breath and lightheaded whenever you need to exert yourself.  

Fortunately, there are some dietary suggestions and lifestyle changes you can make to address this condition. Your doctor might recommend an iron supplement or encourage you to eat more red meat. They also might run some tests to address the cause of your iron deficiency. 

Thyroid Disorders

Your thyroid produces hormones and regulates various systems in your body. A thyroid disorder could result in the overproduction or underproduction of hormones. Other thyroid disorders affect the immune system, limiting the body’s ability to fight infections. 

The treatment plans for thyroid conditions depend on the diagnosis. Your doctor should run some tests to understand what your thyroid is doing and how it is affecting your body. From there, they might recommend medication, hormone therapy, or surgery to address the problem. 

Dehydration

Nearly 80% of your body is made of water and uses this essential chemical to pump blood, digest food, and move energy through your body. Even light levels of dehydration can affect your body and make it harder to think and move. Drinking water throughout the day — especially if you are outside, live in a hot climate, or are sick — can reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated and feeling fatigued. 

Take steps to stay hydrated that work for you. Invest in a water filter so your water is free of harmful chemicals and tastes good. Buy a fun water cup and carry it around, so hydration is only a few sips away. You can also start drinking water before every meal and before consuming an alcoholic beverage to confirm that your hydration levels are high. Small habits can add up and can make a big difference to your health.  

Stress and Anxiety

Stress puts your body in fight-or-flight mode, which causes it to use more energy as it evaluates potential threats around you. Stress can also disrupt your sleep quality and cause insomnia as your brain races to solve problems and prevents you from falling asleep. These two causes can make people with high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression feel fatigued. They are missing out on valuable sleep hours while their bodies work harder because of the perceived threats around them.

If this sounds familiar, take steps to banish stress from your bedroom. This is easier said than done, so choose healthy habits that work for you. Consider exercising or meditating before bed to clear your head. Read a book before you fall asleep so your brain has something enjoyable to think about. In your waking hours, try to mitigate stress in your life by setting healthy boundaries and addressing problems head-on.  

Poor Diet

Food is fuel, so give your body fuel that can keep it going throughout the day. Skipping meals, restricting calories, and opting for unhealthy foods can leave you feeling tired and hungry when you need to be at your best. Make sure you are getting enough protein for energy, along with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are packed with nutrients. 

Avoid the temptation to grab short-term energy boosters like coffee, candy bars, and energy drinks. The sugar and caffeine might taste good at the moment, but you are more likely to experience an energy crash shortly after. Late afternoon caffeine can also prevent you from falling asleep, leaving you feeling even more tired tomorrow. 

Improperly Timed Exercise

People often think exercise makes them tired, but it actually increases their energy levels. Oxygen moves throughout the body while the mitochondria in your cells work to produce more energy. While exercise is good for you, working out at night can boost your energy and make it harder to fall asleep. 

Consider switching your workout habits to exercise at different times. Start your day with a workout or relax after work by hitting the gym. If you really want to work out at night, build a cool-down period into your routine. Spend 30 minutes to an hour reading or resting so your body has time to transition from high-energy activities to preparing for sleep mode.  

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because you get it from spending time outside in the sun. It is also found in some foods, like fatty fish and red meat. Vitamin D deficiency can make you feel fatigued and prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities. 

Your doctor might recommend a vitamin D supplement to boost your levels or suggest spending more time outside. Taking a walk during the day can give you vitamin D while providing a good opportunity to exercise at a healthy time. 

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Though many people can take back their energy levels by adjusting their daily habits, the above steps won’t work for everyone. An estimated 2.5 million Americans live with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. ME/CFS causes people to experience serious fatigue that isn’t improved by rest. Even tasks like washing dishes or taking a shower can wear out people with ME/CFS. 

If you feel exhausted during the day and can’t shake your tiredness, consider making an appointment with a sleep doctor. They might be able to get to the root cause of your fatigue.

Taking Control of Your Energy Levels

You don’t have to feel tired throughout the day. Look at your lifestyle choices and identify potential sources of your chronic fatigue. You can either make healthier choices on your own, like improving your sleep hygiene and drinking more water or consult a doctor about any underlying worries you have. A few changes could positively impact your energy levels so you live a happier, healthier life.

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