Feeling tired some or all of the time is a common condition. In fact, it’s so common that some use the acronym: TATT, for “tired all the time.” The causes of continual fatigue cover the spectrum from medical conditions that require treatment to, more commonly, lifestyle factors that require changes in behavior.
Tiredness and Disease
Medical reasons for feeling tired:
- Heart disease
- Thyroid problems
- Sleep apnea
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Respiratory allergies
- Food allergies or intolerance
If your fatigue is significant, ongoing and affecting your quality of life, you should talk with your doctor. A physical exam and specific tests may reveal if you have one of the conditions above or others than can produce TATT. If so, treating the illness may resolve your fatigue. However, you might first consider whether your lifestyle is causing your tiredness.
Tiredness and Lifestyle Factors
While many diseases can cause frequent or continual tiredness, more often the cause is one or more lifestyle factors. To decrease fatigue and increase your energy level, consider whether any of the following behaviors apply to you and take steps to modify them:
- Sedentary lifestyle. Not getting enough physical activity on a regular basis can lead to TATT. And, of course, being tired then makes you less inclined to exercise, which creates a vicious cycle. Try easing into an exercise routine by doing simple things like standing when you might otherwise sit, using the stairs rather than the elevator and taking a short walk every day.
- Lack of quality sleep. On average, people need seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to recover and recharge in preparation for the day ahead. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, use “sleep hygiene” practices like following the same sleep/wake schedule on weekdays and weekend days, sleeping in a room that’s quiet, dark and comfortably cool, avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime and turning off all screens an hour before you go to bed.
- Too much refined carbohydrates and not enough protein. Carbohydrates are an energy source that many people turn to when they need a quick boost. Unfortunately, that energy is spent quickly and the result is an energy crash and the craving for more carbs. Protein is better at producing a sustained increase in the body’s metabolic rate. Be sure to include high-quality protein in every meal.
- Dehydration. While water isn’t an energy source in the traditional sense, it’s necessary for many of the biochemical processes the body uses to produce energy. Consequently, not getting enough water throughout the day can lead to fatigue. Try increasing your water intake, especially in the morning and early afternoon, as consuming water too close to bedtime can lead to overnight bathroom trips that interrupt sleep. Each person’s water needs are different, but eight, 8-ounce glasses is a good initial target.
- High-stress levels. Chronic stress can be very draining, both mentally and physically. And while a certain amount of stress may be unavoidable, studies have found that people who avoid dealing with their stress experience the most fatigue. Try taking action to lower your stress by addressing issues that are within your control and also by using mind-body activities like meditation and yoga.
The feeling may be common, but you don’t have to give in to continual tiredness. By making lifestyle changes and talking with your doctor about possible medical causes of your fatigue, you may find the key to more energy and a better quality of life.
If you need help with a sleep disorder, you can count on the caring experts at Baptist Health sleep centers. Our staffs include board-certified sleep physicians who keep up-to-date on the most current and effective treatment options. From helping you prepare for tests, listening carefully to your questions, and working with you to provide a personalized treatment plan, you’ll appreciate our attention and support.