Why Do We Get Tired and What Can We Do About It?
It’s a common problem: Life gets in the way of your sleeping schedule and you end up feeling groggy and lethargic throughout the week.
If you’ve experienced this common malady, then you’re certainly not alone.
In fact, according to YouGov’s research „two-fifths of Americans report feeling tired most of the week“.(1) But the good news is that there is something you can do about it.
If you’re wanting to combat the symptoms of restlessness, sleepless, lethargy and more — read on to learn everything you need to know about why we get tired — and what you can do about it today.
There are many diverse reasons you may be feeling tired.
Remember that some are due to everyday maladies most people experience, while others can point to a more serious, chronic disease.
Pay attention to your body as you work through being tired. Start by keeping track of how often and for how long you are feeling tired.
And, in the meantime, take note of these common causes for being tired:
1. Not Getting Enough Sleep
The top indicator when you are too tired is that you are not getting enough sleep.
Most adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep to feel rested and energized for the activities of the day.
Try to wind down each night to allow yourself at least this amount of sleep.
2. Not Getting Enough Rest
If you have a busy personal and work schedule, as most people do, you may be feeling tired because you’re not giving your body enough breaks.
Amend your schedule to allow for breaks throughout the day — such as taking a 30-minute nap at lunch or before dinner.
3. Low Iron Issues
Anemia is a classic case for feeling tired — and it is easily remedied.
Increase your intake of iron-rich foods, such as beef, chicken, oysters, ham, turkey, nuts, tuna and salmon.
In addition, talk to your doctor about whether you could benefit from a prescription iron supplement.
What many people do not realize is that if you are facing anxiety or a mood disorder that is wreaking havoc on your mental and emotional health, you can be internalizing a lot of stress that makes you physically tired.
If you feel stressed out or anxious most days, then it may be important for you to see a doctor to see if you can learn some skills to help manage your mental health or if taking a medication to even out your anxiety is a good choice for you.
There are many ways to work through anxiety — which will lead to feeling less tired and stressed out — but it’s really about finding the right treatment option for you.
When you have low blood sugar — such as in the case of pre-diabetes and adult onset diabetes — then your body cannot operate at its optimum.
Other symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, increased weight gain and increased thirst.
If you are experiencing any two of these symptoms, then it may be important to get your blood tested so you know if you are developing adult-onset diabetes.
With a change to your lifestyle and diet, you can reverse prediabetes — but unfortunately, once you get adult-onset diabetes, you have it forever.
Do what you can now to prevent yourself from getting diabetes and experiencing the escalating consequences of low blood sugar, which includes being tired and in extreme cases, losing your legs because of poor blood circulation.
A mental health issue like depression can cause your body to feel chronically tired, to the point that you do not want to get out of bed or leave your home.(4)
In these cases, it’s extremely important to seek advice and treatment from your doctor.
In addition to the overall lethargy depression can cause in a person, this mental health issue can affect one’s sleep patterns — actually preventing a person from sleeping regular hours or staying asleep.
Often people struggling with depression wake up early or cannot go to sleep until very late at night.
7. Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is a disorder affecting some people whose bodies cannot process gluten.
People who come into contact with gluten become very sick — and this can take a great toll on the body, leading to feeling tired for the duration of the Celiac disease bout.
8. Thyroid Issues
Your thyroid is essential to regulating your metabolism and controlling how energized or tired your body feels.
When you feel chronically tired, it could be because you have a thyroid that is not working properly. A doctor can diagnose you with a simple thyroid test.
9. Mononucleosis (Glandular Fever)
Mononucleosis affects many people due to a virus that causes some of the typical symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, including a sore thread, a fever and glands that are swollen.
Typically, mononucleosis can last about 4-6 weeks but even after a person has gotten over it, he or she can feel fatigued for weeks later.
Also, mononucleosis often affects young adults and teenagers.
10. Restless Leg Syndrome (Willis-Ekbom Disease)
Restless leg syndrome is considered a medical condition that often is connected to anxiety and mental health as well as a person’s nerves.
Sensations in the nerves create the need for a person to move their legs back and forth.
It keeps the people who have it up at night and prevent sleep because the person cannot sleep through the sensations and the perpetual movement of the legs.
Restless leg syndrome can be combatted through both medicine and treatment from a psychologist.
There are several key symptoms for self-diagnosing whether you are too tired.
Read on to see how your symptoms stack up:
- Weak muscles
- Chronic tiredness
- Slow responses (motor skills, reflexes, etc.)
- Inability to make decisions
What To Do at Home and Work
It’s also to keep mind your lifestyle, habits and decisions.
If you are feeling tired and experiencing any of the symptoms above, then it may be necessary to re-evaluate what you are doing in your life that is making you tired.
Read on to get a few tips for what you can do at home and at work to decrease the chances your body will feel tired of being overworked:
- Re-organize your schedule so it allows time for 30 minutes of exercise every day, at least 7 hours of sleep and a 1-hour lunch break at work.
- Ask if you can work from home a few days a week to allow yourself the option of working from your couch or bed.
- Make sure you are eating properly every day — including well-balanced meals that include iron-rich foods such as beef.
- Delegate at work. You can’t do everything — and the only way not to feel burned out is to find a way to either get the work done with the help of colleagues or to contract out the workload you cannot complete.
- Hire help for the home (cleaning, babysitting, meal-delivery, etc.) The less you have to do the less tired you will be at the end of the day.
What to Look Out For in the Process
It’s really important to pay attention to all of your symptoms and your body as you are weighing when to see a doctor or to get more serious medical treatment.
Read on to learn these key tips for what you should be looking out for in the process — and consider starting a daily log of how you are feeling so if you do decide to seek professional medical help you have an accurate account of how your body has been reacting over time.
- How often do you feel tired? If your symptoms don’t change in a week, you may be experiencing symptoms of a more chronic or serious underlying issue.
- Have you missed a period? Many women in early pregnancy can feel bouts of being tired
- Are you approaching the age of menopause (or early menopause)? Feeling tired can be a symptom of this issue affecting women in middle age.
- Do you know you are pushing yourself too hard? Many people know they are over doing it and may be in denial. If you feel in your heart of hearts that you are moving too fast, then it’s time to take a breath and change some priorities in your schedule.
- Are you experiencing serious complications? (Chronic fever, headache, vomiting or fainting) Don’t wait to see a doctor if you are experiencing serious medical issues such as this.
When to See Your Doctor
The bottom line is that you should see a doctor immediately if your symptoms are not fading within about a week.
A week is enough time for your body to recuperate if, for example, you decide to lighten your schedule, eat better or get over a cold.
But if you are feeling tired over time, then it’s time to see a doctor.
In addition, you always should see a doctor if you experience a symptom that is out of the ordinary and extreme.
The same goes anytime you are feeling under the weather. If you vomit, have a high fever that does not go away, have a chronic sore throat or pass out — these are all key indicators that you should see a doctor immediately.
Are You Ready to Feel Your Best Self Yet?
Remember, you don’t have to continue starting your week tired — if you understand the underlying causes of sleeplessness and restlessness.
Most people in America are dealing with this common problem — and in fact, only 1 in 7 Americans wake up saying they actually feel refreshed.(1)
But by simply making a few tweaks to your regular lifestyle and habits — you can start to sleep throughout the night, feel refreshed when you wake up and have more energy throughout the day.
It’s amazing what can happen when old habits die and you’re able to incorporate trusted resources and advice into your lifestyle.
Don’t give up!
(1)Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
June 2, 2015
(2)Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses
T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao
(3)Association between psychiatric disorders and iron deficiency anemia among children and adolescents: a nationwide population-based study
Mu-Hong Chen, Tung-Ping Su, Ying-Sheue Chen, Ju-Wei Hsu, Kai-Lin Huang, Wen-Han Chang, Tzeng-Ji Chen, and Ya-Mei Bai
Published online 2013 Jun.
(4)Fatigue as a Residual Symptom of Depression
Steven D. Targum, MD and Maurizio Fava, MD
Published online 2011 Oct.