Ever wake up in the morning, go about your routine, and still find yourself yawning and wanting to crawl back to bed halfway through the day? Do you catch yourself dozing off in the afternoons during work, or school lectures? Ever wonder why you’re so damn exhausted?
Exhaustion is a fairly common problem — and it isn’t just caused by a lack of sleep. If you’re sleeping properly but still tired, it’s a sign that something is up — or rather, down.
1. Not enough water.
First and foremost, dehydration. When you wake up in the morning, you’re mildly dehydrated. But don’t let the “mildly” throw you off — even mild dehydration is enough to shoot your mood and alertness down into the dumps. The remedy is simple — chug, my friend. Chug often.
2. Thyroid problems.
The thyroid is the gland enveloping your throat underneath your voice box, and it’s responsible for secreting hormones that affect, well, everything. Diseases and ailments implicating this little lump of flesh are very common — an estimated 20 million Americans suffer from thyroid disease, and over half of them don’t even know it.
3. An iron deficiency.
Caused by a deficiency of iron in the blood, anemia leads to sluggishness and lethargy, and in some cases, fainting spells. Iron is an incredibly important mineral, as it’s responsible for helping carry oxygen to the cells — without adequate amounts of it, you’re in deep trouble. And probably a lot of deep sleep.
4. Chronic fatigue.
Chronic fatigue might sound like a fancy way for saying “often tired”, but it’s actually a condition that cannot be beaten with lots of rest. The cause isn’t quite understood, but if you’re tired and find absolutely no explanation for it (none on this list, or otherwise) then it’s worth getting yourself checked out.
Diabetes is described as the inability to process glucose due to malfunction in the body’s production of insulin. Type 1 diabetes, the less common kind, is speculated to be mostly hereditary and is diagnosed by an inability to produce insulin — type 2 diabetes, the (increasingly) more common kind, is characterized by the body’s inability to use insulin properly. Both lead to lethargy and fatigue because the body can’t properly use glucose to make energy.
A lot of people are depressed. Depression acts as an invisible external void, slowly draining all motivation and life out of you without you quite understanding why. Stress, emotional trauma, hormonal imbalances and heavy metal poisoning cause people to drop into depression, and one of the symptoms is not wanting to do anything. Getting over depression takes time, and positive stimuli — exercise, good food, long conversations, and hearty laughs.
7. A sedentary lifestyle.
Living a sedentary lifestyle — literally meaning you’re mostly inactive and seated — does your body harm. Sitting causes your body to become tense in all the wrong places, leading to chronic pain and stiffness — and we were made to move, so not moving enough leads to mood swings, fatigue, and weight gain.
8. Not enough sleep.
Yeah, you guessed it — not getting enough sleep, or not sleeping well consistently leads to feeling tired. And don’t let your six hours fool you — research shows that sleeping less than the full eight hours cumulatively impairs your ability to think at a level equivalent to two days of sleep deprivation. So get your sleeping cycle in order, and make sure you clock your full nightly recharge.
9. Eating too much junk food.
The leading cause of type 2 diabetes is refined carbs. Think cakes, donuts, chips, cereal — but also fruit juices, sweetened yogurts, health snacks, “natural” sweets — any overindulgence in sugar, no matter how organic or natural the source is, leads to an unwanted spike in your glucose levels, and the sugar crash that follows. Keep your carbs complex, eat lots of fiber, and indulge only rarely.
10. Trouble at work.
Stress and overworking leads to fatigue, as well. If you’re constantly worried about work, or are prone to checking your emails pretty much always, then you’re at risk of exhaustion and burnout. Research proves that people’s productivity and creativity levels go up after an unplugged vacation — so when you get the chance for a little me-time, don’t waste it on your phone or laptop.
11. Drinking alcohol before bed.
While a glass of wine before bed sounds harmless, you’re actually keeping yourself awake more than you’d think. Sure, alcohol helps you fall asleep faster — it has, after all, a sedative effect. But it also keeps your body from metabolizing properly, interfering with its usual routine processes and causing you to stir or wake up in the middle of the night. So while a glass of wine might be what you need to relax yourself into sleep, it’ll be doing your body no favors over the next eight hours.
12. Too much coffee.
This one might be a no-brainer — caffeine at any point in the day other than the beginning can disrupt your body’s natural sleeping cycle. Caffeine works by blocking your brain’s adenosine-perceiving cells — adenosine is a naturally-released chemical compound that sedates you over the course of the day, so you fall asleep at night. While sleeping, adenosine gets flushed out of the system. But if you’ve got caffeine in you, this doesn’t happen, and you’ll wake up more tired and groggy than ever.