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Whether your day-to-day life is in a full-time job or studying for a series of qualifications, we all need to be in the best condition possible to make the most of the opportunities that we have.

This includes improving not only your physical health but your mental health. One of the main issues that people struggle with is fatigue and feeling tired when trying to complete what would otherwise be simple, standard tasks. Learn more about some signs of fatigue, answer ‘Why am I so tired?’ and see some core strategies for overcoming exhaustion daily.

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Signs that you’re feeling exhausted

There are a few signs that you’re feeling exhausted and need to reevaluate your energy levels. Understanding these signs means you can look for the cause sooner and start implementing strategies that make you feel better. Some of these include:

Feeling mentally sluggish

Feeling mentally sluggish refers to trying to make your thought process not as efficient as it could be. For example, if you wake up tired, you could find yourself in class unable to think of answers to typical questions, or regular workplace tasks take significantly longer than they would on a typical day. With severe fatigue, overcoming these issues as the day goes on is impossible, as you remain tired.

Wanting more sleep

One of the simplest ways your body tells you that you are exhausted is by wanting far more sleep. For example, if you are sitting in a meeting and find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open, this is a clear sign that your body is yearning for more sleep. In more extreme cases, some sufferers find themselves drifting off in important workplace situations, such as falling asleep during breaks or an exam.

Physical aches and pains

Being tired is not just a mental issue. Exhaustion means that your body has relatively little energy, therefore struggling with replenishing your energy levels and improving the health of your joints and muscles. As your body isn’t correctly looking after itself, you start to feel adverse effects over an extended period. In the worst cases, these aches and pains can affect sleep and further worsen your health.

Reasons that you feel tired

There are a few reasons you feel tired, with different factors affecting people in unique ways. Some of the main reasons that you feel tired include:

Not getting enough sleep

The first, and arguably simplest, cause of feeling tired all the time is a lack of sleep. During sleep, your body goes through many essential processes, such as repairing your major cells and releasing important hormones into the rest of your body. Medical professionals suggest you get at least seven hours of sleep every night, with eight being the ideal amount to optimize your health for the foreseeable future.

There are several potential causes of not getting enough sleep. The first is insomnia, a condition that stops people from falling asleep. Another potential cause of a lack of sleep is having a poor routine, which means you spend too much time awake at night while not leaving yourself in the morning to stay in bed. Issues such as psychological stress or mental health problems can also lead to poor quality and quantity of sleep.

Nutrient deficiencies

Not getting enough nutrients is another cause of lacking energy throughout the day. Each of these vitamins and nutrients plays an essential role in the body completing its functions, so lacking any of these nutrients or minerals increases the risk of feeling tired, drowsy, or inattentive throughout the day. Some of the primary nutrients that people lack include:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium

Increased fatigue levels come from lacking several of these nutrients at any time. Each nutrient does something different in the body, such as vitamin B12’s significant role in delivering oxygen around the body. Vitamin D energizes cells and improves the way you feel. Doctors can test for nutrient deficiencies and guide you toward a solution.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects the way that people breathe throughout the night. If you have sleep apnea, you have something blocking your airway in your sleep, which causes you to wake up for a moment before falling asleep again. There are several types of sleep apnea, with one type including the brain sending the wrong signals for breathing to your muscles.

Suppose you are suffering from extreme fatigue and don’t understand why underlying health issues such as sleep apnea could be the cause. Feeling fatigued all of the time is not the standard and likely has a cause you don’t know about yet. If this is the case for you, start investigating how you sleep and establish whether sleep apnea is a problem for you.

Stress

The stress levels a person feels affect the extent to which they feel energized. For example, a higher level of stress than usual leads to more fatigue as you spend more of your energy overthinking specific issues and working towards solutions to problems in your life. A low level of stress is a normal part of life, but extreme stress can worsen your physical and mental health.

In more extreme circumstances, chronic stress can cause permanent changes to the way that you interact with the world around you and the way that your thought processes happen. In addition to psychological problems, stress can cause physical symptoms such as inflammation which takes your body even more time and effort to resolve. This grows into a worsening cycle of health that can raise your stress levels even further.

Undereating

If you don’t eat enough food, there is a high likelihood that you will end up feeling tired or drained. People suffering from dietary imbalances such as these take in fewer nutrients they need while not getting enough calories to complete all of the essential functions that your digestive system needs. If this happens over an extended period, people can suffer from more significant fatigue.

Aside from not eating enough food, eating the wrong types of food can also have a significant impact. For example, having too much fast food can lead to people eating meals that don’t have enough nutrients simply because it is quick and easy. Assess your diet and ensure that everything you eat has enough nutrients and caloric content to keep your body going.

Caffeine consumption

People consume a lot of caffeine to energize themselves and wake up. However, relying too much on energy drinks and coffee means you feel more fatigue in the coming days or weeks. Caffeine increases your levels of brain activity, including when you’re trying to sleep, which leads to interrupted or poor-quality sleep throughout the night.

In addition to harming your sleep for that night, consuming too much caffeine impacts your sleep for far more nights for the foreseeable future. As you feel more tired the next day, you have a coffee or energy drink that day too, which has the same effect on your body the next day. The cycle keeps going, and you develop a reliance on caffeine to feel energized and ready for your workday. Accumulated effects like this make caffeinated substances so hard to stop having.

Mental illness

Several mental illnesses can lead to a greater level of fatigue. For example, suffering from anxiety can lead to you overthinking relatively regular events, which takes a lot of the energy you would put into standard daily tasks. Similarly, depression can lead to someone lacking energy in the morning and failing to become more energized as the day continues.

These issues differ slightly from having a physical illness or disability, as you have no way of visually identifying the issue that you are struggling with. This makes diagnosis more difficult and makes treatment of the issue much more complex than it would be otherwise. Expert psychiatrists are the ideal professionals to talk to when dealing with these issues.

Poor hydration

Having a low hydration level has several health risks, including having very little energy throughout the day. A lot of the reactions that take place in the body lead to a loss of water, whether through sweating or urination. As the day goes on, drinking plenty of water means that you have enough hydration in your system to complete these tasks and increase your energy levels compared to when you don’t drink any water.

The amount you drink depends on a few key factors relating to your body. For example, the more you weigh, the more water you need to drink, as you have more cells that need support from your hydration routine. Higher activity levels and being older are other factors that lead to a higher level of hydration necessary for good energy levels.

Sedentary lifestyle

Having a relatively sedentary lifestyle is another factor that can add to a greater level of tiredness throughout the day. A sedentary lifestyle includes sitting at a desk throughout the day, staying in bed for too long, and not engaging in any significant exercise at any point. People with a sedentary lifestyle have less engagement with the outside world and change their environment far less than others.

There are a few reasons that having a sedentary lifestyle can lead to you feeling like you have relatively little energy. The first is that exercise provides your body with many hormones that promote positive mode, with adrenaline also increasing your energy levels. Taking part in exercises such as team sports or even athletics leads to you feeling far less tired.

Medication

Some forms of medication can have significant side effects that increase your tiredness. For example, some steroids have side effects, including insomnia. Insomnia refers to the inability to fall asleep and inconsistent sleep quality throughout the night. Other medications do not affect how you sleep but increase how drowsy you feel.

Some doctors can recommend alternative medications to their patients depending on their specific conditions. This is the case when you suffer from mental health issues, as several options are available to make you feel better. In the worst cases, you choose between dealing with the side effects and resolving the initial problem or stopping the medication and dealing with the initial issue differently.

Unpredictable work patterns

Working unpredictably is another way that you increase your levels of fatigue. For example, working as a medical professional in a hospital means that you work shifts such as night shifts or early morning shifts. This means that you have no opportunity to build up any consistency in your sleeping pattern, which prevents you from being as comfortable as possible and gaining energy as you sleep.

One of the main solutions to this is talking to people in managerial positions about your issues and asking them for support. For example, if you are specifically struggling with being able to sleep after completing a night shift, talk to a supervisor and see if you can make your shifts more consistent than they would be with the original schedule. This leads to a reliable sleeping pattern and a more excellent quality of life.

How to increase your energy levels

There are a few things that you can do to increase your energy levels. These vary depending on your situation, with some preferring different solutions to others. Some of the steps that you can take to increase your energy levels include:

Think about the cause

The very first step of the process is thinking about the cause of your low energy. For example, think about the amount of sleep you are getting and whether it is reaching the amount that medical professionals recommend. Consider how you eat and whether you are eating healthy and nutritious. By doing this as the very first step of the process, you increase your chances of finding the initial cause of your problems and solving it as soon as possible.

Do some testing

Once you have some idea of the cause of your problems, start thinking of some solutions you can try. If this includes how you eat, for example, try some new diets for a week at a time and note how you feel at the end of those weeks. This can narrow down your problem and set you on the path to solving the problem. Try as much as possible, as the problem could be something you’d never considered.

Talk to a doctor

Finally, consider talking to a doctor. If none of your previous efforts have worked, you could suffer from a more long-term health issue, such as a mental health problem or an issue with your digestive system. A medical professional can complete the proper tests and diagnose your issues before working closely with you to find a solution that works.