Written by: Cally Worden
If you wake most mornings feeling sluggish and exhausted then you are not alone. Even among those who manage to get a good, undisturbed night of sleep there exist a significant proportion who feel tired all the time. Statistics from the Royal College of Psychiatrists show that as many as 1 in 5 people regularly feel tired, with 1 in 10 suffering from prolonged fatigue. So what’s going on?
Physical Reasons for Tiredness
It is well known that medical conditions such as anaemia and thyroid problems can lead to fatigue, but there are many other medical problems that can leave you feeling drowsy too. Food intolerance, diabetes, glandular fever, obesity and pregnancy are just a few other common causes. Before you go and Google yourself into a panic, it’s important to know that Doctors say the majority of cases of excessive tiredness are in fact unrelated to medical conditions. Most medical causes of fatigue present with other symptoms too, such as heavy periods, weight loss, extreme thirst, and so on. Tiredness on its own is unlikely to have an underlying medical cause.
Psychological Effects on Energy Levels
This is far more common. A wide range of psychological conditions can lead to tiredness and fatigue – it’s the body’s way of letting you know you need to take care of your emotional self. Anxiety, for example, can cause insomnia, which eventually leads to extreme fatigue. Stress over money, relationships or work can keep you awake at night too. Even positive events such as starting a new job, moving home, or expecting a baby can bring anxieties and raise your stress levels. Depression is also linked to low energy levels and fatigue. In all of these cases addressing the root problem is the only way to alleviate the tiredness in the long-term.
How you live your life can affect your energy at a general level and your ability get the most from your time asleep. Alcohol and drug consumption can interfere with sleep, making you restless and disturbing your much-needed periods of deep sleep. Drinking too much, too often, can also make you depressed. Eating a lot of junk food or processed food can leave you feeling sluggish, and a lack of exercise limits the energy regeneration capacity of your body. Night shifts, young children waking in the night, and drinking coffee before bed can also affect your ability to gain regular, restful sleep.
What Can I do About It?
If you are concerned that there may be more to your tiredness than a few disturbed nights of sleep, then by all means have a chat with your GP to explore the issue and hopefully put your mind at rest in respect of potential medical causes. Beyond that, being honest with yourself about your emotional state, and your lifestyle choices should shed some light on the problem. Making changes may not always be easy, but recognising the effects that certain issues are having on your energy levels can often be the catalyst you need to start making changes that will help.