Why am I tired all the time?
Feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for “Tired All The Time”.
We all feel tired from time to time:
- Too many late nights
- Long hours spent at work
- A baby keeping you up at night
A lot of the time, we know why we’re occasionally tired. But tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for a long time is not normal. It can affect your ability to get on and enjoy your life and unexplained tiredness is one of the most common reasons for people to see their GP.
Reasons why you may be feeling tired a lot of the time:
Before you see your GP, you may want to work out how you became tired in the first place.
It can be helpful to think about:
- The parts of your life, such as work and family, that might be particularly tiring.
- Events that may have triggered your tiredness, such as bereavement or a relationship break-up.
- How your lifestyle may be making you tired.
A GP will look at the following causes of tiredness:
- Psychological causes
- Physical causes
- Lifestyle causes
Psychological causes of tiredness:
Psychological causes of tiredness are much more common than physical causes. Most psychological causes lead to poor sleep or insomnia, both of which cause daytime tiredness.
Psychological causes include:
The strains of daily life can worry most of us at some point. It’s also worth remembering that even positive events, such as moving house or getting married, can cause stress.
A bereavement, redundancy or a relationship break-up can make you feel tired and exhausted.
If you feel sad, low and lacking in energy, and you also wake up tired, you may have Depression. See your GP if you think you may be suffering from Depression
If you have constant uncontrollable feelings of anxiety, you may have what doctors call Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). As well as feeling worried and irritable, people with GAD often feel tired. See your GP, as medication and other treatments can help.
Physical causes of tiredness:
There are several health conditions that can make you feel tired or exhausted, including:
- Underactive thyroid
- Sleep apnoea
Tiredness can also be the result of:
- Pregnancy, particularly in the first 12 weeks.
- Being overweight or obese – your body has to work harder to do everyday activities.
- Being underweight – poor muscle strength can make you tire more easily.
- Cancer treatments, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning – especially if your gas boiler has not been serviced regularly.
- Side effects of medicines and some herbal remedies.
If you have been feeling constantly tired for more than 4 weeks, it’s a good idea to see your GP so they can confirm or rule out a medical condition that could be causing your tiredness.
Lifestyle causes of tiredness:
In today’s non stop, 24/7 world, we often try to cram too much into our daily lives.
And to try to stay on top of things, we sometimes consume too much alcohol or caffeine, or eat sugary and high-fat snacks on the go rather than sitting down for a proper meal.
The main lifestyle causes of tiredness include:
Drinking too much interferes with the quality of your sleep. Stick to the guidelines of no more than 14 units a week for both men and women.
Too much or too little exercise can affect how tired you feel.
Too much of this stimulant, found in tea, coffee, colas and energy drinks, can upset sleep and make you feel wound-up as well as tired. Try decaffeinated tea and coffee, or gradually cut out caffeine altogether.
Night workers often find they get tired more easily. This is more likely if the timing of the shifts keeps changing.
If you’re tired, you may nap during the day, which can make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
Some good advice if you think you may not be sleeping enough:
Buy a sleep monitor. Many FitBit type activity watches can monitor your sleep and give you valuable insights as to how much or little you are getting. This can be very useful because you will find yourself actively trying to improve your sleep.
Leave the phone off. Tricky, because it can be very tempting to answer a few emails when in bed – but just don’t do it!
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Even small amounts of light can upset sleep, so invest in some total blackout blinds and see the difference it makes!
Don’t drink any significant liquids within 2-3 hours of bedtime. If you do, you may have to get up to pee and may not be able to get back to sleep quickly.
Don’t have any stimulants. Caffeine, or watching a tense and powerful thriller on TV, can leave your body and mind on high alert which is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is when your body and mind repair and restore, so make sure you look after your sleep!
Captain Felix Deer joined the Army in 1985 and served in a number of Training Officer roles, qualifying as a Unit Fitness Officer in 1986. Since leaving the Army in 1994, Felix has sold property, built houses and flown airliners for a living, but has always maintained his keen interest in Fitness.