Why Am I Always Tired? 8 Common Causes of Low Energy

By Val Silver

fatigue exhausted, why am I always tired

If you are asking, "Why am I always tired?", you are not alone. With our hectic lifestyles and less than optimal health habits, feeling like you have no energy is a modern day epidemic. 

If you feel exhausted because you are burning the candle at both ends or not getting enough sleep, then you have your answer for why you are always tired. Unfortunately, the reason isn't always that clear. Sometimes it takes a little detective work to figure out what is behind your constant fatigue.

8 Possible reasons you are always tired

1. Poor eating habits

Poor eating habits affect your energy in a number of ways. Skipping meals or waiting too long to eat between meals causes your blood sugar to drop. Eating or drinking too many simple carbohydrates (think white foods and sugar) causes blood sugar to spike and then drop. When your blood sugar plummets, so does your energy.

Overeating and making a lot of bad food choices also causes a dip in energy. It takes a lot of your body resources to digest food. If you eat junk food, your body actually has to use some of its nutrient stores to process that food.

Obesity makes your body to use extra energy in a few ways. Digesting extra food takes more energy than eating appropriate amounts as does carrying around extra pounds. Your body needs that energy to function. assimilate nutrients, move blood and fluids, and detoxify. If all your energy goes for these priorities, that leaves you little to do what else you want to do. 

2. Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities are behind a variety of symptoms including extreme fatigue. Food allergies are hard to miss because of obvious, sometimes life threatening symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or a rash. Food sensitivities are more difficult to ferret out. 

Common problematic foods include dairy, grains with gluten (wheat, rye, oats, barley), peanuts, corn, soy and eggs. Too much sugar and artificial sweeteners can also stress your body. All these foods are a regular part of the standard American diet.

If you notice you have no energy within an hour of eating a particular food, or experience bloating or gas, consider eliminating it from your diet for at least a week and notice if you feel more energetic. Do this even if it is a healthy food. It is not healthy for you. Here's a tip - these are often the foods you crave. 

3. Chronic stress

Chronic stress is a common cause of burnout and extreme or constant fatigue. Ongoing and intense distress disrupts almost all your physical and mental functions including your immune system, digestion, mental focus and sleep. After a while your adrenal glands cannot keep up with the demand for more stress hormones. This can happen rather quickly if you are under severe stress. It can take months or more for them to rebuild.

Some people get addicted to the energizing feeling of the adrenaline rush and create lots of reasons during the day to push the stress button.

If you have the habit of creating stress for yourself by rushing and pressuring yourself, or you burn the candle at both ends, consider what you are doing to your adrenal glands. This habit may feel good for a while, but it time it will catch up with you.

Eventually those whipped adrenal glands will fizzle out and you will find yourself always tired with little energy. It can take months to get them functioning well again.

adrenal glands kidneys diagram

4. Dehydration

Even slight dehydration can make you feel tired. If you consume a lot of processed foods, which are often seriously lacking in water content,  too many caffeinated beverages, or alcoholic beverages, you may need to drink more water than usual to keep yourself hydrated. 

After you have lost 2-3% of your body fluid, you may start feeling tired because you have less blood volume. When that happens, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen and nutrients in the bloodstream to the muscles, organs, skin, and brain. 

5. Sleep disorders and poor sleep habits

Sleep issues such as insomnia not only leave you feeling exhausted but cause other health problems as well. Waking up frequently during the night can leave you feeling exhausted. To optimize energy, get the right amount of sleep for you. This is usually between seven to nine hours nightly.

Sleep apnea is another issue that can zap your energy. It disrupts normal sleep patterns and may even compromise your breathing and oxygen intake. Spells of not breathing during the night and/or incessant snoring can make you wake up feeling exhausted. 

Poor sleep habits may also explain why you are always tired. If you are getting too much sleep, not enough sleep, have irregular sleep patterns (such as staying up late on the weekends), you could be sabotaging your energy supply. 

6. Inadequate or too much exercise

Not getting enough exercise can cause lethargy and fatigue. This may sound counter-intuitive, but your body needs to generate energy to make energy. 

I learned this lesson the hard way.  Years ago I gave up my lunch time exercise routine to make more time for my studies and responsibilities. Big mistake. I was always tired! Really tired. When I made the link to no exercise I went back to the gym. In no time I had more energy, was less stressed, and felt better. Lesson learned.

On the other hand, too much exercise can also wear you out, over-stress muscles, and deplete nutrients and fluids in your body. 

7. Overusing stimulants

Stimulants can give you an energy boost, but overusing them may backfire and leave you feeling wiped out over time. This is because stimulants don't give you energy, they make your adrenal glands work harder and draw on your limited energy reserves. If you are filling your coffee cup throughout the day or you reaching for energy drinks, this may explain why you are always tired. Sure. you get a quick boost, but at a steep price to your already overworked exhausted adrenal glands and nervous system.

Occasional and moderate use of stimulants can provide a needed energy boost without causing problems unless your adrenals are already weak.

8. Health problems and medications

Health problems such as anemia, cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems, digestive problems, and silent infections are a few possible medical reasons why you are always tired. Certain medications may also make you feel tired.

If after honestly appraising your lifestyle and health habits, you still have unexplained  mental or physical exhaustion lasting a week or more, please see your medical provider. You may have an undiagnosed health condition that is behind your fatigue. 

Summary

The reasons for ongoing fatigue and weakness can be as simple as exercising too much, not getting enough sleep, or needing more water. They can be as complex as food sensitivities and chronic unaddressed health conditions. 

Now that you have learned reasons for why you are always tired, what can you do about it? The first step is to identify the cause(s). That may lead you to the logical next step. The tips on the following pages will explain what you can do to have more energy in the short-term and in the long-term. 

Continue reading

Why am I always tired page updated 12/2020

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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