If you’re sleeping four hours a day and working fourteen, you’ve got your answer right there. But if you find yourself constantly sleeping in and if you feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, even if you are taking it easy, then you might have a problem. And since we’re not living in the Pokèmon world, the problem is likely not caused by a magical creature with psychic powers that is stealing your dreams. As you might suspect, your fatigue may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, and most of those, unfortunately, cannot be resolved in the span of a 25-minute episode.
Tired All the Time
Fatigue, exhaustion, weariness, consumption, collapse, feebleness, burnout: all of these terms to a certain extent refer to the feeling that your body is running on reserve, like the very air around you is putting weight on your shoulders and every horizontal surface is emitting a powerful gravity field.
There are certain kinds of tired that need little more than a good night’s sleep, but then there are other kinds that no amount of sleep can cure. If feeling tired no longer feels like something on the outside, something wearing down on you, but rather like something on the inside, something ingrained, like your very bones are too heavy, you will see that a tired body can have a domino effect on your mental state, too. Let us not forget, however, that the reverse is true, as well. In fact, in most cases, tiredness, even extreme tiredness, may have a psychological, rather than a physical cause.
Causes of Fatigue
Some of the more common causes of always feeling tired include:
- Anxiety. Certain psychological causes can lead to insomnia or disturbed, restless sleep. If you’re stressed, you may think that you’re getting enough sleep, but the sleep you’re getting may not be good quality sleep. It is a well-established fact that the brain needs more energy than any other organ in the human body, taking up about 20 percent of total energy consumption. Even if we don’t take the sleep factor into consideration, if you’re constantly worrying about things and mulling things over when you’re awake, you’re basically overclocking your brain, and it will drain your energy reserves fast.
- Depression. People suffering from depression describe a feeling of weariness, a fatigue that is more than just feeling tired. Contrary to what most people think, depression is not as simple as constant sadness and moping around. Most people may not feel sad at all. In fact, they may not feel anything, apart from the desire to be left alone.
- The weather. Some people feel extra tired when the seasons change. If it’s particularly hot or humid, your body will feel the effects and discourage you from doing too much to save you from overheating. And if you feel the blues as soon as November comes along, you may have a disorder called the seasonal affective disorder (winter/summer depression). It is accompanied by symptoms that include difficulty waking up, overeating and a drop in mood (not unlike depression). Light therapy usually helps in such cases.
- Certain stages in life (development). It is normal for people of certain age to generally require more rest than others. During puberty and adolescence, for example, the body is undergoing rapid physical growth paired with a number of changes which drain all the energy away. In addition, hormones play a large role in regulating sleep patterns and determining how tired we feel overall. That is why women may feel fatigue during menopause, made worse by persistent sleep problems and night sweats.
- Anemia. Caused by blood loss, iron deficiency and certain diseases, anemia is a condition marked by a low red blood cell count or by a lack of hemoglobin. It is accompanied by an unhealthy pallor, weakness, chest pains, rapid heartbeat and headache. Women are more susceptible to anemia, mostly due to menstruation, but also pregnancy and breastfeeding (which require extra minerals).
- Diabetes. If you’re losing weight, have a frequent need to urinate and feel constantly thirsty (sometimes also hungry), your fatigue may be caused by diabetes, a condition marked by high blood sugar levels.
- Sleep apnea. It is a condition where your breathing is interrupted constantly as you sleep by your throat narrowing or closing. It is accompanied by snoring and low blood oxygen levels and impaired sleep quality, leaving you exhausted after you wake up. The condition is made worse by excess body weight, alcohol and smoking. It is more common in men (primarily of middle age).