5 Sneaky Reasons You're Tired All the Time, According to Experts
Feeling sluggish, brain-fogged and spaced-out throughout the day is a reality for many people, regardless of age, gender and life circumstances. While we know that getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night is the gold standard, sometimes even after getting enough shut-eye you can still feel exhausted the next day. So, what gives? We tapped several experts to find out the reasons you might be tired, even when you're getting enough sleep. Here are some sneaky culprits behind your fatigue.
5 Reasons You're Tired All the Time
1. You're dehydrated.
Drinking enough water is important for maintaining healthy organs, improving skin elasticity and flushing out toxins. But it's also crucial for our energy levels. "Research has shown that dehydration can make you feel tired, even when you've gotten enough sleep," says Rachel West, RD, head dietitian at eMeals. "The vast majority of your organs rely on water to function properly, including your brain. Dehydration causes a drop in blood pressure, which means decreased blood flow to your brain." Enter sleepiness, dizziness and headaches, which can be easily prevented by drinking enough H2O.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, women should get about 91 ounces of fluids each day and men should aim for about 125 ounces. To make things easy, buy a large water bottle (like this one from Amazon, $16) and refill it every day. You can also eat plenty of hydrating foods to help meet your daily goal.
2. Snacking is causing a blood-sugar roller coaster.
Snacking throughout the day may seem like a good fatigue-battling strategy, but what you snack on matters. "In the average American diet, snacks are generally made up of foods high in processed carbohydrates," says West. "These foods quickly spike our blood sugar levels and are followed by a rapid drop as our body uses them for energy storage." According to West, among the major signs of a sugar crashes are fatigue and lack of focus. The solution? "Swapping out processed carbohydrates for whole grains, or pairing them with foods that slow down a quick rise in blood sugar levels, like high-fiber fruits and vegetables, protein and healthy fats."
3. Your social calendar is empty.
The pandemic has significantly diminished our social activities and the need to plan for them. Turns out, a lack of excitement and a shortage of things to look forward to is making us seriously fatigued. The effect, known as "flat-lining," has been recently identified by coach and researcher Brad Stulberg, the author of the new book The Practice of Groundedness. According to Stulberg, having nothing to get excited about causes a very real exhaustion that might be hard to identify at first glance. So go ahead, open your day planner and pencil in some fun adventures.
4. You're binge-watching.
The introduction of binge-watching, courtesy of platforms like Netflix and Hulu, has sent experts looking into the way it affects our lifestyle habits. A recent study from Arizona State University suggests that binge-watching is linked to reduced physical activity and heightened stress. Can't quit Squid Game? Walk around the block or do some squats and jumping jacks after every episode. And don't watch TV too close to bedtime—late-night bingeing can mess with your internal clock and interrupt your sleep cycle, according to the Sleep Foundation.
5. Your thyroid is out of whack.
If you have eliminated all the reasons above and the tiredness still persists, it's worth checking your thyroid function. "The thyroid affects our metabolism and vascular system, it works on pretty much our whole body," says Arti Thangudu, M.D., a board-certified endocrinologist and lifestyle medicine physician. According to Thangudu, a lab test that looks closely at your TSH levels (thyroid stimulating hormone) can reveal either a hyperactive thyroid or an underactive thyroid; both conditions can lead to brain fog, general sluggishness and less pleasant mood. Thangudu adds, "It's best to consult your physician on next steps if tests are abnormal."