Why am I always tired? Reasons you may have no energy and feel sleepy - according to an expert

There can be a number of reasons behind why you’re feeling tired all the time

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It’s normal to feel tired at the end of a long day, but if you’re finding yourself feeling tired all the time there may be another reason behind it.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why am I tired all the time?

According to the NHS, feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for "tired all the time".

Reasons behind this can often include too many late nights and long hours spent at work.

However, NHS website said: “Tiredness or exhaustion that goes on for a long time is not normal.”

There can be a number of reasons you’re feeling tired all the time and before you see a GP, it can be helpful to think about:

  • parts of your life, such as work and family, that might be particularly tiring
  • any 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 then look at the following causes of tiredness:

  • psychological causes
  • physical causes
  • lifestyle causes

Physiological causes

Psychological causes that can impact on sleep include stress, emotional shock, depression and anxiety.

Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist at Chemist Click, said depression can cause you to feel tired and not only physically drained, but mentally too.

He added: “Depression can make it harder to fall asleep, and can disturb the quality of your sleep, which will inevitably cause you to feel tired throughout the day.”

There is also an association between depression and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, with neurotransmitters playing a role in regulating mood, motivation, sleep and energy levels.

A disruption to these neurotransmitters can cause you to feel tired, as well as affect your mood.

If you are feeling tired, which is accompanied by lack of motivation, feeling upset and unmotivated, you should visit your GP.

Physical causes

There are also several physical health conditions that can make you feel tired or exhausted, including:

  • iron deficiency anaemia
  • underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • sleep apnoea

Mr Kanani said one of the most common causes of tiredness is anaemiam which is an iron deficiency most commonly affecting women who have heavy periods, or post menopausal women.

It also commonly affects pregnant women, without around 40% of pregnant women being affected by anaemia.

Those with kidney disease, diabetes and irritable bowel disease are also likely to be affected by anaemia.

If you think you have anemia you can get a blood test from your GP and it is relatively easy to treat anaemia with a course of iron tablets.

Another common cause of tiredness is hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid.

Mr Kanani said that the thyroid gland is involved in controlling metabolic function, so an underactive thyroid can cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, which then causes fatigue and tiredness.

He added that if you go to see your GP with symptoms of fatigue, the blood tests are likely to monitor your thyroid hormones.

If you have an underactive thyroid, your GP will then start you on medication, which “helps to provide the thyroid hormone that your gland would normally produce”.

Your GP is also likely to monitor you over the course of a few months to ensure that the medication dose is correct, which can involve taking different courses throughout the month.

Diabetes is another common condition that can cause tiredness, as well as coeliac disease.

The damage to the gut caused by coeliac results in poor absorption of essential foods, which can cause tiredness. This can be diagnosed by blood tests.

Lifestyle causes

The main lifestyle causes of tiredness include:

  • alcohol
  • exercise
  • caffeine
  • night shifts
  • daytime naps

Mr Kanani added that while not a medical condition, drinking too much coffee can make you feel tired, which is “counterproductive as many people consume coffee to give them a boost”.

He said: “Research shows that excessive caffeine can interfere with your sleep cycle, affecting the amount of quality sleep you get.

“Caffeine tolerance can also build up over time, and an increase in consumption of coffee can exacerbate such feelings of tiredness and fatigue.”

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