If you’re not missing sleep but are often still tired during the day, you have several factors in your life that cause your fatigue. Here’s what you should know.
There are many reasons why you might be dragging, even if you usually are in bed for seven or eight hours a night. If you feel tired often, it’s important to figure out the cause.
Here are some of the most common reasons for fatigue during the day.
Eating too little
Some people go on strict diets or skip meals because they’re busy. You might be trying one of the popular regimes that involve fasting. Just be aware: lack of food can make you tired. Food is energy.
Eating too little carbs (or too much)
Again, food is energy and that includes healthful carbs. If you often skip breakfast, try oatmeal to see if you feel better during the mid-morning than you usually do.
Some people overload on carbs like potato chips or bread, which can also lead to fatigue. Your body quickly turns unhealthy carbs into sugar. You may get a boost but crash when you come down.
Exercising without fuel
If you skip breakfast and run to the gym, exercising without fuel, you could easily be exhausted afterwards.
Do you have diarrhea? You are losing water, which can lead to dehydration. What about coffee? Recent evidence suggests that moderate amounts of caffeine are not dehydrating, but you might be overdoing it. Lots of coffee on top of diarrhea or serious sweating could be a problem.
Having too little iron in your diet can cause fatigue, especially if you end up with anemia, a condition in which you have too little hemoglobin or not enough red blood cells. With anemia, your body’s cells become low in oxygen. You might have pale skin, get headaches, get short of breath, or feel dizzy.
Even if you spend enough time in bed, you may end up tired because of poor sleep quality.
Irregular sleep hours
The best way to feel rested is to go to bed at about the same time every night and wake up at the same time. If you have crazy sleeping hours and rely on catching up on weekends, you are likely to feel tired often.
Do you snore? That’s one sign that you have sleep apnea, a condition in which your sleep is broken up by intervals when you are gasping for breath. You don’t fully wake up, but you end up with shallower, less restful sleep.
You might tend to think of sleep apnea as a problem for only very heavy men who snore loudly and fall asleep during the day. But women can get sleep apnea as well, even if they aren’t especially heavy. If you are tired all the time, and can’t find another cause, talk to your doctor about sleep test.
Even if you don’t wake up, your body registers noise while you’re sleeping. People exposed to nightly traffic noise are more likely to have heart disease and to take sleep medicine, which doesn’t restore their sleep quality completely. Noise keeps you in the shallower part of your sleep cycle and cuts short the later periods when your pulse and breathing rate slow and you dream. The noise doesn’t have to be loud: Even the hum of hospital equipment can affect your sleep quality, some research shows. If your bed partner snores, try sleeping apart to see if you awake more rested.
Beyond diet and sleep quality, fatigue can have other unexpected causes.
Lack of exercise
You'll be more energetic the more you move. For people who are sedentary, getting up and out, even just for a walk, can boost your energy by 20 percent.
It’s very common to have hearing loss from middle age on, but most people put off getting hearing aids, typically for a decade. Struggling to hear can be exhausting. Your brain is working harder to interpret the sounds you hear, so you’ll lose focus earlier than you would if hearing were easy.
This can be hard to figure out — are you sad because you’re tired or tired because you’re sad? Are you anxious because you’re short of energy and can’t quite get everything done or short of energy because you’re anxious? You might need to talk to a psychotherapist or consider medication. Sometimes you need to tackle a problem that looms so large you can’t bear to look at it, such as your marriage, job, or a struggling child. The best news: You’ll have more energy once you get started.
Other medical problems
It’s important to speak to your doctor about your fatigue because it may be a clue to something else. Heart disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes, hepatitis, and chronic fatigue synrome can all cause ongoing fatigue.
Your doctor should also reevaluate your medications. Fatigue can be a side effect of blood pressure medications, statins and fibrates, acid-reflux medications, antianxiety drugs, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, and diuretics.
February 18, 2022
Janet O’Dell, RN