6 reasons why you are constantly tired

tired woman at desk

Are you someone who feels constantly tired? Many of us have prolonged periods where we feel fatigued on a regular basis – a sensation that can have serious effects on many aspects of our lives both socially and professionally. There are numerous explanations why one might suffer from feelings of constant tiredness, from nutrition to sleep quality, and from lack of exercise to stress. In this guide, we highlight six reasons behind your perpetual weariness, offering some tips and advice along the way to help you combat its effects and rejuvenate your daily life. 

1.    You don’t sleep well enough

person sleeping in bed

First and foremost, one of the main reasons why you may be constantly tired or fatigued is due to the seemingly simple fact that you don’t sleep well enough. Now, this can be the case for many different reasons pertaining to your specific situation – from not sleeping for enough hours and napping during the day to having an inconsistent sleep schedule. It’s important that we give proper respect to the importance of a good night’s sleep as this can have a ripple effect (good or bad) in many areas of our waking lives.

 

Dr. Roy Raymann, VP of Sleep Science and Scientific Affairs at SleepScore Labs told us: “Your sleep behaviour is key to good sleep. Make sure you keep consistent a bedtime and out of bed time every single night, even in the weekends. Our brain just loves predictability and will reward you with better sleep. Finally, prepare to sleep through the night. Avoid heavy meals, vigorous exercise and hot baths close to bedtime.”

 

The Sleep Council are certainly experts in this field, being an impartial advisory organisation that looks to raise awareness of the importance of sleep as it pertains to health and wellbeing. As such, they are the perfect people to speak to for some top tips and advice on the subject, which is just what we did. We asked The Sleep Council’s sleep advisor Lisa Artis what advice she would offer someone who is feeling constantly tired:

 

“It’s worth trying to work out why you’re constantly tired by completing a sleep diary for a couple of weeks.

 

“We regularly create our own unhealthy sleeping habits, often without realising (staying up too late to check social media or emails, drinking alcohol to relax), but if people take action with some minor lifestyle or habit changes, many of the issues can be nipped in the bud before they escalate.”

 

What could be impacting your sleep?

 

“There could be several factors which are impacting your sleep. Firstly, are you getting enough hours per night? Try going to bed earlier (you can move your bedtime forward by 15 minutes every couple of days).

woman asleep in bed

“One reason could be that your alarm clock is waking you in the wrong part of your sleep cycle – your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. There are five sleep cycles and each cycle takes around 90 minutes. You need to experience all four stages in each cycle in order to wake up feeling rested. REM sleep is the deepest sleep and the stage where you dream – it is hard to wake from this and it can leave you feeling disorientated and groggy throughout the day. Work backwards from the time you want to get up in a morning to give you an ideal bedtime. Multiply 90 minutes (each cycle time) by five (the number of sleep cycles per night) to get 450 minutes or 7.5 hours of sleep. If you need to wake up by 6.30 am, then count back 7.5 hours to find that lights out time is around 11 pm. Make sure you’re in bed before then so you’re relaxed and ready for sleep. 

 

“If you also find yourself groggier in the early part of the week, you may be suffering from what’s called ‘social jet lag’. By sleeping in at the weekend, our body clocks re-set so when the alarm clock goes off early on a Monday morning, it leaves us too tired for the working week – and it can take up to mid-week before we feel any less groggy. Immediate effects of ‘social jet lag’ include poorer memory and reaction times – definitely not a good start to a working week!”

 

Lisa also emphasised the importance of checking other areas of your life that could be causing the issue: “To ensure you experience good sleep, it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits and to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep. For example, making sure that your bedroom is the right environment (cool, dark and quiet), that your bed is up to scratch, looking at the lighting in your home, and avoiding foods and drinks that can hinder sleep.

 

“Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed and find alternative ways of relaxing like warm baths with calming scents, quiet, soothing music, reading, gentle stretching and yoga. It’s also important to establish a regular sleep pattern – going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time. Your body and mind will feel much better for it.

 

“It’s also worth checking there are no underlying health reasons why you’re still feeling tired after a good night’s sleep.”


Excessive daytime sleepiness

 

Professor Dave Singh, a member of the World Sleep Society’s Speakers Bureau, spoke to us about possible causes of constant tiredness, discussing something known as ‘excessive daytime sleepiness’:

 

“Individuals who are tired during the day may be suffering from a condition known as excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). This type of EDS is a classic symptom of a common disorder of sleep, called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, breathing stops intermittently during sleep, which leads to transient awakenings during the night that is associated with poor quality sleep. The individual wakes up the next morning without feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep, and this leads to excessive tiredness during the day.

 

“One of the first things that can be done to address this issue is to fill out a sleep questionnaire (such as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale). This questionnaire helps identify individuals who may be at a higher risk of having OSA. If the questionnaire suggests an increased risk of OSA, a physician may then suggest an overnight sleep study, which can verify a diagnosis of OSA and indicate the degree of its severity. Once diagnosed, various forms of sleep therapy can be considered to help restore normal, restful sleep.”

 

Professor Singh also went on to speak about the importance of sleep hygiene, offering a few tips for those in need: “The body has a natural rhythm (called the circadian rhythm), which includes sleep. In the late evening, various hormones (such as melatonin) are released from the brain, leading to the individual feeling sleepy. However, just like an alarm clock, the ‘go to sleep’ signal can be overridden, which can disturb the circadian rhythm to a certain extent.

 

“Getting ready for a good night’s sleep is called ‘sleep hygiene’. Classically, exposure to blue light needs to be minimised, which means devices like mobile phones, TV screens, computers, etc need to be put away since they can delay or suppress melatonin release. For children and adults, there should be no device use in the bedroom, which should be slightly cooler than the living room.  Sleep is, in some respects, a microform of hibernation, so the bed should be snug to allow the body to reduce its core temperature, slow the heart rate and blood pressure, with regular breathing. If sleep hygiene doesn’t adequately address the issue, then a consultation with a physician might be needed to rule out common sleep disorders, such as insomnia and OSA.”  

 

2 - You don't eat enough

woman eating healthy snack

Another explanation that may lay behind fatigue has to do with how often you eat. You may find that you are not actually eating often enough and would greatly benefit from consuming regular meals and healthy snacks every few hours, instead of having one larger meal less often. By doing so, there’s a good chance that your energy levels will receive a significant bump and, as a result, your constant tiredness subsides. Try taking healthy snacks and smaller bites to eat to work with you, plan out your meals, and make a schedule – do anything you can to transform the way you eat. 

3.    You need to hydrate more

Connected to your diet and nutrition, you might also find that you are experiencing feelings of prolonged tiredness because you are not sufficiently hydrated. Consuming the right liquids on a consistent basis is very important in maintaining a healthy body. Don’t just think you can add a few more cans of Coke or a glass of wine to your daily routine, however. Beyond making sure you drink a glass of water after exercise, make sure that you are aiming for 6-8 glasses of water a day so that you are sufficiently replenished. It’s amazing what a simple glass of water can do for the human body. 

4.    You are overstressed

Woman at desk stressed

Being overly stressed can be another contributing factor towards feelings of extreme or constant tiredness. Stress happens to take up a lot of energy, weighing on us emotionally. Such feelings are, unfortunately, quite prevalent in many of our lives, whether as a result of pressure at work or issues at home. If you are suffering from stress, try to implement some relaxing activities into your life: listen to music, spend more time with friends and family, enjoy a rejuvenating spa day in Yorkshire – anything you can to counteract the effects of stress on a regular basis. Make some time for yourself and try to eliminate any unnecessary stress in your life, giving you a boost in energy as a result. 

5.    You are not active enough

One thing that could lie at the foundation of your tiredness is your level of activity, i.e. you are not actually active enough. Of course, over-exercising without sufficient rest will also leave you feeling drained but physical movement actually provides our body with a much-needed energy boost. You have noticed that lounging around the house all weekend makes you feel lethargic, well if you aren’t moving around enough, this feeling can prolong itself, resulting in feelings of lasting fatigue. So, engage in some regular light exercise, even a short 10-15 minute walk each day will be of great benefit. Start off light and gradually increase until you are able to achieve a couple of hours of moderate aerobic exercise per week. 

6.    You are drinking too much caffeine

cup of coffee on table

Some may find this an ironic explanation for tiredness, but it is, nonetheless, true. While caffeine can supply drinkers with an artificial, temporary boost in energy, the Royal College of Psychiatrists actually recommends that anyone feeling tired should actually remove caffeine from their diet. Caffeine is found in many places, including coffee, tea, energy drinks and even some painkillers. As caffeine helps us feel more awake, this can have some negative implications on our sleep, thus resulting in tiredness. So, try to remove caffeine drinks from your diet by gradually cutting down over a three-week period. You might find that you feel much better for having done so!

Explanations for constant tiredness and fatigue

We hope the above explanations behind persistent tiredness have been illuminating. Hopefully, if you are suffering from such feelings, you can now identify the cause and implement some of the above tips into your life. Analyse your routines, your diet, and get to the bottom of what is causing your fatigue. Once you know the cause, you are halfway there. If you think stress may well be the cause, check out our relaxing spa treatments and ensure you spend your ‘me’ time wisely.