These days, the feeling of constant tiredness is haunting everyone. Research has shown that around one-third of healthy adolescents; adults and more elderly people feel tired and sleepy (1, 2).
Tiredness or fatigue is one of the commonly occurring symptom of various medical conditions; however, most of the times, the cause for constant tiredness is our lifestyle. The good news is that these are fixable issues and there are easy solutions for your tiredness.
We will tell you about 9 reasons you are constantly feeling tired and ways to get back your energy.
Being a Couch Potato
Sedentary lifestyle with staying inactive all the time, even at our workplace, is one of the main causes for low energy and feeling tired always. The paradox is, many people respond to this by saying they are too tired for any physical activity or exercise. A study has shown that older and middle-aged adults gave this as a common cause for not exercising (3).
Another reason for this is a condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome where the person suffers from unexplained and extreme fatigue each and every day. Research has shown that patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome suffer from low endurance levels along with low strength and this hinders them in exercising. Another study has shown that exercising is beneficial in reducing tiredness in patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (4, 5).
Research has also shown that exercising can reduce fatigue in healthy people as well as people suffering from any diseases too. Even a little bit of exercise or increase in physical activity helps a lot in improving overall energy levels (6, 7).
So, the simple habit here is to change your sedentary life and get up and get going. Just move your body with simple activities, go for a stroll, do some gardening, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to your workplace if it is nearby and see the difference in your energy levels.
Too Much Carb Intake Causes Tiredness
Carbohydrates are a great and instant source of energy. Upon consumption of carbs, it gets broken down into sugar that is then later used for fuel. The deal breaker here is excessive use of refined carbs consumption causes a feeling of constant tiredness all through the day.
Upon eating processed carbs and sugar, there is rapid increase in the levels of blood sugar, which then signals the pancreas to generate huge quantities of insulin in order to expel the sugar out of the blood.
This rapid spike in levels of blood sugar and the equally rapid drop leads to exhaustion. Then for quick energy, a person tends to grab another plateful of refined carbs and this then becomes a vicious cycle, which needs to be broken if you want to feel fresh throughout the day.
There are many studies, which have confirmed that you can increase your energy levels by cutting down on the refined carbs and sugar intake (8, 9).
Another study showed that children consuming snacks made of refined carbs before a soccer game experienced increased fatigue when compared to children who consumed peanut butter-sandwich before the game (10).
There are also many healthy foods, which you can eat to combat tiredness and you need to eat these foods instead of junk or fried food. A broth made of dried bonito or okra has certain compounds, which helps in increasing alertness and reducing fatigue (11).
To feel energetic throughout the day and to avoid feeling tired all through the day, cut down on eating refined carbs and sugar and start eating whole foods that are full of fiber, like legumes and vegetables.
Lack of Good-Quality Sleep will Definitely Cause Fatigue
Insufficient sleep is an obvious cause for tiredness the next day. Sleep is the time when our mind and body get the much needed rest. As you sleep, your body releases hormones that are responsible for regulating your energy levels and metabolism and for good memory (12). When the sleep is less or disturbed, you feel tired and irritable the next day. When you have had good quality sound sleep, then you feel so energized and refreshed the next day. So, good quality sleep is very important to feel energetic all day the next day.
More than the duration of the sleep, the quality of the sleep is important. In order to combat constant tiredness and feel fresh the next day, it is important to have uninterrupted and restful sleep, so your brain can go through all the 5 stages of every sleep cycle.
According to a research, an average of seven hours of sleep in a night is needed by adults for good health (13). Good sleep comes with good sleep habits, where you should sleep and wakeup everyday at the same time, even on weekends.
Another study showed that teenagers who slept on same time on weekends and weekdays experienced less tiredness and had less difficulty in falling asleep when compared to teens who slept late and slept for only few hours (14).
Staying physically active in the day helps in getting more sound sleep during the night. A study done in older individuals showed that exercising benefitted their sleep by improving the quality of their sleep along with decreasing the fatigue levels. (15)
Other than this, napping also helps in increasing the energy levels. A study done in pilots has shown that taking naps had reduced their tiredness, which was very beneficial for them, as they commonly experience tiredness because of jet lag and their long working hours (16).
However, if you think you are suffering from a sleep disorder, then you need to seek medical consultation and get yourself evaluated by a sleep specialist.
Lack of Hydration: One Of The Neglected Causes Of Constant Tiredness
One of the key factors for maintaining good energy levels is staying well hydrated. Our bodies host various biochemical reactions that lead to loss of water, which needs to be replaced for good health. Not drinking sufficient amount of water causes dehydration, which in turn causes fatigue and tiredness.
Research has shown that if a person is even slightly dehydrated, then there can be decreased energy levels and reduction in concentration levels (17, 18).
Everyone must have heard that one should drink 8-ounce glasses of water every day; however, the required water intake of any individual depends on age, weight, level of activity and gender. It is important to drink sufficient water to maintain adequate hydration and energy levels. Some of the common dehydration symptoms are thirst, dizziness, headaches and fatigue.
Eating Less or Eating Insufficient Calories
Consumption of very less calories also causes tiredness and exhaustion. The units of energy present in the food are referred to as calories. Our body needs a sufficient amount of calories to use them for basic body functions, such as breathing and regulating the body temperature. Consumption of lesser calories slows your metabolism to conserve energy and this results in fatigue.
Depending on a person’s height, weight, age and other factors, their body can function within a set of calories. Most individuals need at least 1,200 calories daily for preventing slowing of metabolic processes.
According to experts, even though metabolism reduces with age, older people need to consume calories at their highest range to prevent fatigue and to perform daily functions of life (19). In addition, it’s difficult to meet your vitamin and mineral needs when calorie intake is too low. Not getting enough vitamin D, iron and other important nutrients can also lead to fatigue.
Insufficient calorie intake also deprives you from various essential, minerals, vitamins and nutrients, which further increases your tiredness. Even if you are trying to lose weight, you should do it in a healthy manner with a healthy diet to prevent fatigue and for a sustainable weight loss.
Sensitivity to Food Items: A Lesser Known Cause For Persistent Fatigue
Intolerances or sensitivities to food can cause digestive problems, rashes, headache, runny nose and last by not the least is tiredness and fatigue, which many of us overlook.
A study has shown that people suffering from food sensitivities are affected more by tiredness and low quality of life (20). Some of the common food items, which people can develop an intolerance to are: eggs, gluten, soy, dairy and corn. If you think are getting tired after eating certain food items, then you need to consult with dietitian or an allergist to resolve this problem.
Eating Less Protein: An Obvious Reason for Fatigue
Not eating enough protein also causes fatigue and tiredness all the day everyday in some cases. Following a protein rich diet increases the metabolic rate more when compared to eating fats or carbs (21). Protein consumption not only prevents tiredness, but also helps with weight loss and in managing our sugar cravings.
Studies have also shown high-protein diets in weight lifters produced less tiredness (22, 23). Studies have also shown that branched-chain amino acids that are the building blocks of protein can help in reducing fatigue (24).
Make sure to consume high-quality protein with your every meal to feel energetic throughout the day and to strengthen your metabolism also.
Too Much of Energy Drinks= Rebound Fatigue
Energy drinks are a fad these days, where everyone reaches out for them to combat their tiredness, as these beverages claim to provide instant energy to you.
Some of the ingredients present in the energy drinks are: sugar, caffeine, amino acids, herbs and large doses of B vitamins. While energy drinks can give temporary boost to your energy levels, thanks to their high sugar and caffeine, they are not good for your health and cause rebound fatigue (25, 26).
A study done in sleep-deprived adults showed that drinking an energy shot resulted in modest improvement in the mental function and alertness level (27). The downside of energy drinks is the after the effects of sugar and caffeine subside, a person feels rebound fatigue.
Studies have shown energy drinks can cause increase in alertness and better improved for some hours only after which excessive sleepiness during the day was seen in the participants (28).
It is not recommended to drink caffeinated beverages or energy drinks even in the afternoon, as it can cause disturbed sleep and fatigue the next day.
Different brands have different levels of caffeine in them; however, a single energy shot can have caffeine up to 350 mg. A few of the energy drinks can also have about 500 mg of caffeine per can. When compared to this, coffee usually has about 77 to 150 mg of caffeine per cup.
If you are habituated to drinking energy drinks, then you need to gradually cut down and wean yourself off them. Other than this, the consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks should be limited to only in the mornings.
Increased Stress= Constant Fatigue
Not many people know that chronic stress and increased stress levels greatly affects a person’s energy levels and hence their quality of life. It is normal to experience some stress; however, if the stress is persistent and increases, then it can cause extreme fatigue and tiredness in an individual (29, 30). How you respond to stress also affects your degree of tiredness.
A study done on college students revealed that students who refrained from dealing with stress experienced high levels fatigue (29). Thus, it is important to develop coping strategies wherein you can effectively deal with stress, as it is not possible to completely avoid stress in your life. Effective stress coping strategies help not only your overall health, but also prevent that feeling of utter exhaustion occurring from chronic stress.
Studies have proven that relaxation methods, such as meditation and yoga helps greatly in relieving stress (31, 32). Practicing such mind-body techniques help in dealing with stress, improves your quality of life and makes you feel energetic all day through.
Feeling tired all the time, day in and day out has many possible causes and the first thing to exclude is medical cause for your chronic fatigue. After that, you can follow some simple lifestyle modifications to increase your energy levels and enhance better mood. Your diet habits, sleep habits, activity level all affect your energy levels. So, you need some simple yet effective tweaks in your life to feel refreshed and alert during the day.