4 Reasons You’re So Damn Tired

Elizabeth Millard
by Elizabeth Millard
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4 Reasons You’re So Damn Tired

Although you might wake up feeling charged up for the day, your battery seems to drain quickly. Maybe that puts you on the hamster wheel of caffeine and sugar consumption, just to score enough energy spikes to conquer your daily tasks. You seem to sleepwalk through routine tasks, and when it comes to working out? You’ll start tomorrow.

If that description sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The National Sleep Foundation’s research shows people in the U.S. get 20% less sleep than they did a century ago. They also work more hours, which can increase stress, lower the amount of family time and make vacations a distant memory. Cue the hamster wheel. But if you are managing to get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep and still feel tired, other factors might be at play:


Talk about a vicious cycle: When you feel exhausted, you tend to skip working out, or at least don’t exercise at the intensity you could. That can make you feel, well, even more tired.

A study by the University of Georgia found  regular, low-intensity exercise can help boost energy levels, even when people think it won’t.

Lead researcher Tim Puetz says, “Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out, especially when we’re already feeling fatigued. However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy, particularly in sedentary individuals.”


If you exercise regularly, there may be a point of diminishing returns — simply exercising more and more doesn’t mean you act like Red Bull is coursing through your veins. In fact, it actually causes fatigue.

“Certain styles of exercise take the participant to a state of physical exhaustion on a regular basis, which may do more harm than good,” notes functional and integrative medicine practitioner Chris Kesser.

He adds that there’s a fine line between training hard and overtraining, and when that line is crossed, it pushes the body’s stress response too far. That can result in a number of biochemical responses as the body tries to protect itself. One of those is to slow down several processes — creating fatigue as a result.

One solution is to make sure you’re building rest days into your mix, so that you can fully recover from your workouts, mentally and physically.


There’s been a significant amount of research in the past few years about the role of your gastrointestinal system in regulating emotions, energy, immunity and even skin health and chronic disease. All that good and bad bacteria in your digestive tract is central to your health, according to Jo Ann Hattner, RD, and co-author of “Gut Insight: Probiotics and Prebiotics for Health and Well-Being.

When it’s out of balance, it can lead to allergies, lowered immune response, poor sleep and other factors that might contribute to exhaustion. Hattner suggests stocking your plate with gut-happy choices like fermented foods and all types of vegetables — and dialing down the processed stuff, especially sugar and refined carbs.


Although you might wake up refreshed, that doesn’t mean you’ve gotten a solid night’s sleep. Even a mild case of sleep apnea can keep you from getting the deep sleep necessary to maintain energy throughout the day, according to Abbas Mansour, MD, director of the Sleep Lab at Baptist Easley Hospital in South Carolina.


“If sleep is fragmented, what you’ll see is daytime sleepiness and trouble maintaining your energy,” he says. “That affects alertness and concentration. Sleep apnea is very common, and underdiagnosed, so it’s worth talking to your doctor about it.”

If you’ve tried other strategies to tackle your energy crisis, a sleep study may be helpful to see if that’s an issue.

In general, feeling exhausted all the time isn’t a normal part of aging or living in a go-go-go society. Addressing stress, getting the right amount of exercise, improving your nutrition and practicing good sleep habits can go a long way toward kicking that caffeine habit to the curb.

About the Author

Elizabeth Millard
Elizabeth Millard

Elizabeth is a freelance journalist specializing in health and fitness, as well as an ACE certified personal trainer and Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in SELF, Runner’s World, Women’s Health and CNN.


49 responses to “4 Reasons You’re So Damn Tired”

  1. Avatar Brad says:

    #5 Lack of Water – You forgot lack of water (dehydration), also being a leading cause for daytime fatigue.

    • Avatar Cassie D. says:

      I was waiting for that one, also!

    • Avatar Dave Forrester says:

      But too much water makes me get up in the night to pee, thereby disturbing my sleep lol.

      • Avatar Scott Dix says:

        Just stop drinking water a few hours before bed, that will keep it down to no more than 1 time during the night.

      • Avatar shan says:

        whether i drink before or not, i still have to get up to pee during the night. don’t turn the lights on, and you’ll be able to fall back asleep quicker. 🙂

        • Avatar Etienne Menard says:

          Probably not healthy, but I will sleep through the night, even if I kinda have to go pee before going to sleep…. I can handle road trips like a champ too! But i’ll probably die from my bladder exploding at some point.

          You gotta take the good with the bad, right?!

        • Avatar Christy says:

          That does work, I do that also

        • Avatar Kelly Turnbeaugh says:

          Consider wat a nurse told me: the cause might be the opposite. Rather than waking to pee, your sleep might already be disrupted and that causes your body to trigger a “might as well go pee” impulse. Your real problem might be your sleep not your hydration.

    • Avatar EWS says:

      I’ve discovered that to be true for me Brad. It’s a simple fix. Thanks for pointing it out.

    • Avatar K. says:

      I agree!…Funny that I was just at the Dr. today due to falling asleep at basically the drop of a dime. One thing I was told was to hydrate and include sports drinks that will replenish my electrolytes too. I was told to try this as a first step, then we’ll look at a sleep study. Hopefully I just need more hydration even though “I thought” I was getting enough.

      • Avatar Etienne Menard says:

        Does it run in the family by any chance? I too fall asleep readily, so much so that I have to force myself to stay awake a good half hour after my wife is asleep (or more) so my snoring will not wake her up if she’s just falling asleep. Both my siblings also fall asleep very quickly, to the chagrin of their respective SO’s as well.

      • Avatar Carole Gray says:

        If they do a sleep study,if you are falling asleep during the day, ask them to include a check on narcolepsy. The test is done in the morning after the sleep study at night at a sleep center.

      • Avatar Jennifer Hamernick Baumgartner says:

        There are some simple apps to help you keep track through the day. I use Water Drink Reminder

      • Avatar Linda Lotz-Popp says:

        My Dr told me that if I’m thirsty, I’m already starting to dehydrate. So I sip all day long.

    • Avatar shan says:

      And electrolyte balance. Just water can flush your electrolytes, causing imbalances, which will create fatigue. This is a constant issue for me.

      • Avatar Katrina Samuel Garrison says:

        This is odd. If your eating food you should be consuming electrolytes. You have to be drinking A LOT of water to flush your electrolytes.

  2. Avatar Lorelei says:

    So is MyFitnessPal so trashy now that we need to curse in the headlines? We need a report author link instead of just report ads.

    • Avatar Karen N says:

      Darn? That’s cursing??? Bwahahahaha!!!! @Lorelei, you need to get out more, Luv!! Even your clergy uses “Darn” Good grief!!!

    • Avatar robinbishop34 says:

      Were your parents Styx fans?

    • Avatar WTFReally? says:

      What are you a fucking Puritan?

    • Avatar evadlegne says:

      I agree with Lorelei. I tend to have a potty mouth but I don’t think it’s necessary in headlines. The body of the article would be fine.

    • Avatar Carrie Grubbs says:

      I agree, your not alone, I read the title out loud, not thinking, and my 7 y/o busted me. Anyway I commented without thinking either. I just don’t understand all the hostility to your comment. Its like watching the news. I was actually looking in the comment section hoping to find more solutions for fatigue not a yahoo commentary.

    • Avatar Cali Schmidt says:

      Jesus fucking Christ kid, get over it. It’s only a curse if you make it a curse. For example, in my home, Lorelei is a curse. So, I guess I should report you, since your name goes against my way of living. (If you think I sound ridiculous, look at your own comment.)

    • Avatar Maleboligia says:

      I wish I had the time and energy to be able to criticize the grammar of strangers. I live in the real world, where swearing exists. And if my skin was so thin I needed to raise it as an issue, I obviously have my priorities mis-aligned.

      Is it necessary? No. Is any word necessary? Is it worth complaining about? No. Especially when you clicked on the article, thus proving it does work. There are scores of other health sites too…

  3. Avatar WTFReally? says:

    This article is garbage.

    • Avatar HoosierFather says:

      Garbage? Well, we’re all not doctors like you! I for one never realized that not sleeping well could be the reason I am so…darn (PW)…tired. Until reading this “garbage”, I was under the impression that tossing and turning all night, and getting up three times to go to the bathroom, we’re both very restorative to both mind and body. Also, thanks to this article, I’m starting to think my daily 5-a-day CrossFit regimen is making me feel a bit pokey.

  4. Only four reasons? You make it seem so simple. I would would worry about an out-of-balance lifestyle which includes too much of most everything and not enough of doing nothing (or at least very little). As a culture, we are driven, period. It’s never enough. And then the body finally says, “This is crazy. I need some rest!” But oh no! That won’t do. We have to come up with at least four things we can do to get “un-tired” so we can keep on keeping on with the rat race. Wow.

  5. Avatar Victor Canas says:

    Just your typical examples nothing insightful – good thing I just skimmed.

    • Avatar Katrina Samuel Garrison says:

      You may just already know the information in the article, but I’m sure some people will find it useful.

      • Avatar Christy says:

        I agree, you would be surprised at how many people that are just getting started in being healthy, don’t know these things, I already knew this stuff, but thank you for posting to help those who didn’t know.

  6. Avatar Tdchess says:

    Ladies- remember that women often have different symptoms of a heart attack than men. A friend had overwhelming fatigue- that was the symptom that took her to her doctor. Testing found 3 major blockages in her arteries. Stent time !!

  7. Avatar Paula Wiseman says:

    It is too bad myfitnesspal felt the need to curse and yes it is a curse and is not necessary. Those of us that are serious about health and wellness for ourselves and our clients would read the article with out it. The more you see that trash the more numb to it you get. Thats why the trash on tv is so acceptable. We have gotten used to it and therefore it is ok. But it is not. So myfitnesspal,,use your big girl/boy words. It actually is a sign of intelligence to do so…

    • Avatar HoosierFather says:

      adverb informal: damn
      1. very or extremely
      (synonym: condemnably)
      “I’m so damn tired of overcritical prigs!”

  8. Avatar MHM says:

    It takes a kick in the butt to get out there and take a walk but honestly afterwards I do feel alot more energized.

  9. Avatar Wanda D. Cunningham says:

    ………..the station break is over and now back to the issue at hand………………4 reasons why we’re so tired!

  10. Avatar S B says:

    Eating too much sugar.

    • Avatar Carrie says:

      I agree. When I cut back on sugar and high carb foods I feel more energetic and it lasts all day. I guess I have really bad eating habits that it affected me so much.

  11. Avatar Susan McHugh says:

    Can be a symptom of a chronic disease process like leukemia. Get blood work done if it continues unabated by changes in nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

  12. Avatar Anne Lynn Jarman says:

    And then there is the one no one mentions, you are sick. If you are very fatigued go to your doctor and get checked out, and keep going. For me it was breast cancer that was draining my energy, twice, six years apart and second time I still didn’t catch on attributing my bone pain and back pain to exercise injuries, and I was always tired. And now I’m dealing with cancer again, only there is no cure. But don’t blow off tiredness as a symptom, it can mean something serious. Of course isn’t is always serious you could be anemic but don’t ignore it.

  13. Avatar Luke X says:

    In most cases, the problem is diet. Diet correctly and the body will be able to adjust to the exercise level. Very few people (as in almost no one) in this world over-exercise if they are dieting properly.

  14. Avatar Kalista says:

    I always have difficulty sleeping. I’ve been an Alzheimer’s caregiver for 12 years for one or both parents. I have as much as 10 years to go. I’m th only family of my father. I try to work part time as a substitute teacher. Watching my parents and other family members die this way has been horrific. I fight the depression as best as I can. All the suggestions are great. No one does a perfect job of caring for themselves. Life is very difficult and the reality is that sometimes it beats us up. So, look at your state of mind, as well. Are you depressed? Do you need a little help from a psychiatrist and psychologist? If so, take it. Their expertise can make the difference between impossible and difficult.

  15. Avatar Denise Knowlan says:

    I started drinking a big 12 oz glass of the hymilayian salt and lemon on empty stomach when I wake up 30 min before I eat and at night 1-2 hrs before bed. I swear I feel so much better. It forces me to drink. That’s already 24 oz of liquid already.

    1gallon or filtered water
    1 lemon squeezed
    1 teaspoon pink salt.
    It’s very refreshing.

  16. Avatar John Doe says:

    this is a good article

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