10 Reasons You’re Always So Tired

Spend a few minutes glancing around any office or subway car, and you’ll see yawn after yawn, maybe even a few folks nodding off. With an average per person coffee consumption of 2.1 cups every day, at least according to a Zagat survey, it’s safe to say most Americans feel pretty tired. Plopping down in a chair for the rest of the day certainly won’t do much to help alleviate the problem, and many workers may find themselves feeling irritable and a lot less productive.

If you count yourself among the many perpetually tired adults, it’s time to figure out where things are going wrong. Check out these 10 possible culprits.

1. Sleeping in

A tired man sleeping

Sleeping in may not be so smart. | iStock.com

Once Friday hits, most people are ecstatic at the thought of sleeping long past their weekday waking hour. Though snoozing until noon might sound like the ultimate luxury, you could be doing a lot more harm than good. According to Men’s Health, sleeping in throws off your body’s internal clock since it alters the amount of time you’re exposed to daylight as well as your regular eating habits. If you can’t completely fend off the urge, keep it to an additional 90 minutes at the absolute max.

2. Improper amount of exercise

Man Napping on a Couch

Work out and boost your energy levels. | iStock.com

If you think you’re too tired to work out, think again. Plenty of research shows regularly making the time for a sweat session can help you feel a lot more alert during the day. This 2008 study from the University of Georgia is a good example. The team found those who started incorporating exercise into their day enjoyed reduced fatigue compared to those who remained sedentary. It may not have been the largest sample size in the world, but the results still raise an eyebrow.

3. Too many screens

A man looking at his computer before bed

Put your computer away before bed. | iStock.com

Most adults are plugged into some sort of electronic device all day, right up the point when they hop in bed. Exposing yourself to the light from your phone, computer, TV, or tablet so late in the day can have a huge impact on the amount and quality of sleep you get. A 2014 study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found participants who used light-emitting eReaders an hour before bed took longer to fall asleep, experienced reduced quality in sleep, and felt more fatigued the next morning. The researchers believe the light that comes from these devices disrupts circadian rhythm, our body’s natural clock that helps tell us when it’s time to sleep.

4. Poor diet


Put away the doughnuts. | iStock.com

Three cups of black coffee does not constitute breakfast, yet many don’t have much more than that. This habit of skipping the day’s first meal can slow you down pretty significantly. Amy Goodson, R.D. at Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, tells Time eating breakfast refuels your body from the long break between meals and gets your metabolism going. Your best bet is to go for complex carbohydrates and protein to keep you satisfied and maintain a stable supply of energy. Go for foods like eggs with whole-wheat toast or oatmeal with Greek yogurt.

5. Dehydration


Don’t forget to drink water. | iStock.com

Though the old advice of drinking eight glasses of water a day is sort of overkill, most people don’t sip enough of the clear stuff throughout the day. If you’re not guzzling at least a few glasses, dehydration could be the reason you feel so sluggish. Nutritional therapist Hayley Pedrick told The Telegraph, “As little as a 5 to 8% loss of water can lead to fatigue.” When you don’t have an adequate amount of water in your system, your blood volume drops. This means it takes longer for oxygen and other nutrients to circulate through your body, leaving you feeling wiped out.

6. Inadequate amount of sleep

a tired man

Hit the hay as early as you can. | iStock.com

Not getting enough sleep is probably the most obvious, but no less important, reason many of us feel so exhausted all the time. Though everyone is a little bit different, experts usually recommend aiming for seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night, yet many people don’t come close. Missing out on those precious hours every night can make you feel foggy, but that’s the least of your worries. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and an early death.

7. Iron deficiency

Red and white blood cells

You could be iron deficient. | iStock.com | iStock.com/Rost-9D

When you don’t have an adequate supply of iron in your system, you can’t produce enough hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen throughout your body. This condition, called anemia, can make you feel winded and generally exhausted. It’s even worse when you try to work out.

Livestrong.com says people often run into trouble when their diet doesn’t offer enough of the nutrient through foods like meat, poultry, and eggs. This means vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible.

8. Low testosterone

an upset man

Low testosterone could be to blame. | iStock.com

As men get older, their bodies naturally start to produce less testosterone. Most of us think of this hormone as it relates to muscle growth and sex drive, but it plays a role in your overall energy level as well. According to Healthline, men with low testosterone often feel fatigued despite getting plenty of sleep. And if you think this is only a problem for older men, think again. Everyday Health explains there are a number of reasons young men can find their testosterone levels lacking, and they’re all treatable. If you feel like you might be suffering from an insufficient supply of this hormone, you’ll need to do some blood tests at your doctor’s office.

9. Sleep disorders

a man who can't fall asleep

Sleep doesn’t come easy for everyone. | iStock.com

Even folks who devote enough time to sleeping each night can find themselves feeling bleary-eyed in the morning either because they can’t fall asleep or because it’s not restful sleep. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and even more have occasional troubles getting enough shut-eye.

Disorders include everything from snoring to narcolepsy, but sleep apnea and insomnia are two of the most common.

10. Too much alcohol


Watch your beer consumption. | iStock.com

Most folks who enjoy a few beers or glasses of wine know about the snooze-inducing effect of alcohol. Though booze makes you feel sleepy, it also prevents you from getting the true rest your body needs. A 2013 review published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found alcohol consumption helped individuals reach a deep sleep early on, but led to disruptions in the rapid eye movement stage, the most restful phase of sleep, later in the night. It’s fine if you enjoy a drink or two, but don’t use the booze as a strategy for getting a better night’s rest.