a tired man looking at a laptop stressed and tired

Why am I always tired? Common causes of fatigue and how to beat them

Feeling exhausted is very common amongst adults and there is usually a good reason to explain it.

Spending long hours working, staying up too late at nighttime, or being unable to sleep can all contribute to making you feel exhausted.

Feeling tired all the time is also known by the acronym TATT (which stands for ‘Tired All The Time’) and it is one of the most common reasons that people see their doctor.

Why am I so tired?

There are lots of reasons why you might be feeling tired and some of these causal factors can be easily fixed with just a few lifestyle tweaks.

A lot of tiredness is down to a busy lifestyle.1

You will have no doubt heard the expression “burning the candle at both ends”. Doing too much is very common, especially with the modern lifestyles that we lead with busy jobs, social lives and children all in the mix.

An unbalanced diet

Eating too many refined carbs can cause you to feel tired during the day. When these are consumed, there is a rapid rise in blood pressure which initiates the creation of a large amount of insulin by the pancreas. This spike and fall in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling exhausted.2 To help ease this feeling, you need to limit the amount of refined carbohydrates that you eat on a daily basis. Ideally you should replace these with more vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. All of these contain fibre which will help support your energy levels. As well as this, not eating enough calories during the day can also make you feel as if you are always tired.3

Your body gets its energy from food and drink and your body needs a minimum amount of calories each day in order to function properly.

The NHS’s recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 for men.4

A busy lifestyle

You might just be doing too much which is leading to you feeling constantly tired.

If you have been working extra hours, try to cut down on these and ensure that you focus on your work-life balance.

Limit social occasions to a couple of nights each week, rather than every night, and encourage yourself to say no to things if you are not feeling up to it.

Try to spend more time letting both your body and your mind relax. Try taking a bath, reading a book or listening to some relaxing music instead of hitting the town!

High levels of stress

There is a direct correlation between excessive levels of stress and feelings of fatigue.5

There will always be some levels of stress in your life. But developing strategies for managing the negative side effects of stress, as well as taking part in activities such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga will help to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

An irregular sleeping pattern

Your body’s circadian rhythm is the biological changes that occur as a response to daylight and darkness during a 24-hour cycle.

And studies have shown that chronic fatigue can occur when your sleeping pattern is out of sync with this.6

Ensure that you keep your bedtimes and waking up times generally the same each day and, where possible, avoid sleeping during the day and staying up later on into the night.

If you work shift patterns or have newborn children, this can, of course, be unavoidable and so you may need to retrain your body clock in order to feel more energised.

Try tactics such as sleeping in total darkness, limiting your caffeine intake and avoiding having electronic devices in the bedroom.7

A lack of quality sleep

Having a night full of broken sleep can make you feel pretty useless the following day, since you need a full night of quality sleep to leave you feeling rested and refreshed.

Insomnia can be caused by a number of psychological factors including stress and anxiety. But there are some things you can do to help you drift off to the land of nod (no sheep counting required!).

Avoid screens before bedtime

It is recommended that you should avoid screens of all kinds (TVs, mobile phones, tablets) for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.8

Being on your phone or watching TV keeps your mind awake and engaged, rather than allowing you to fully relax and switch off. The blue light from your phone also mimics daylight, which can make you feel more alert.

Pop your devices to one side and try doing some breathing exercises or meditation to help your mind switch off and fall asleep.

Surround yourself with relaxing scents

Lavender can help you unwind before you go to sleep.

Try a warm bath with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil before bedtime.

All of these suggestions should help to stop you from feeling tired during the day.

But if you continue to feel tired and there does not seem to be any reasonable explanation for it, or you are experiencing extreme fatigue, you should seek further medical advice.

For more information on fighting fatigue, check out our article on the best vitamins and supplements for boosting energy.

Last updated: 8 Feb 2021

FatigueMental HealthSleepStress