Why am I always tired? Possible medical reasons for your constant fatigue

‘What happened to me?’

It’s a question many of us ask ourselves when, despite getting a full eight hours of sleep the night before, we wake up feeling tired.

According to a YouGov survey earlier this year, one in eight Britons feel tired and one in four feels tired most of the time.

That makes sense, since only a third of us sleep for seven hours a night, and only one in five consistently sleeps for eight hours.

But there’s still a large portion of people who feel tired, no matter how long or well they sleep.

Here, MailOnline takes a look at the full reasons you might flag for science – and what you can do about it.

According to a YouGov survey earlier this year, one in eight Britons feel tired and one in four feels tired most of the time.  There can be many medical reasons for this, including drinking too much caffeine, snoring or having an underlying health problem.

According to a YouGov survey earlier this year, one in eight Britons feel tired and one in four feels tired most of the time.  There can be many medical reasons for this, including drinking too much caffeine, snoring or having an underlying health problem.

According to a YouGov survey earlier this year, one in eight Britons feel tired and one in four feels tired most of the time. There can be many medical reasons for this, including drinking too much caffeine, snoring or having an underlying health problem.

You are a secret snorer

If you are single or live alone, you may be happy not knowing that you are a noisy sleeper.

It is estimated that 40% of adults in the UK snore to some degree, which equates to around 15 million people.

For 1 in 10 of these people, it could be a sign of a disorder called sleep apnea. This happens when the walls of a person’s throat relax and narrow during sleep, blocking their airway.

The condition has been linked to obesity, sleeping on your back, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

‘Formula 10 -3-2-1’ for a PERFECT night:

You would think that with decades of practice we would all be experts by now. So, why are millions of us still struggling to get a good night’s sleep?

Two-thirds of adults in the US and UK don’t get the recommended eight hours, and studies show the average American and British only do around six.

Busy lives and tight work schedules are the most common reasons why you don’t get enough sleep. But our obsession with technology, inactivity, and a late-night eating culture are also thought to be reasons why we don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep doctors have in recent years voiced the ’10 -3-2-1′ formula, a step-by-step guide on how to best prepare you for a good night’s sleep throughout the day.

But that’s bad news if you love caffeine, as this method says it must be gone at least 10 hours before bedtime. And late-night eaters will have to shift their mealtimes three hours before bedtime, or risk the night tossing and turning.

The guide also recommends signing out of your work email two hours before you start, and even avoiding phones, tablets, and laptops for the hour before you start.

Summary formula:


It has been dubbed the ‘silent killer’ because of the disruptions it causes to sleep that prevent the body from resting properly during deep sleep, putting extra stress on our organs.

During an exercise session, hypoxia activates the patient’s brain to pull them out of deep sleep so that their airways reopen.

It has been linked to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Last week, a study of 4,000 patients with sleep apnea found it may also increase cancer risk.

Half of the patients in the study had cancer. The results showed that those with the most severe sleep apnea were more likely to develop lung, prostate or skin cancer.

Swedish researchers aren’t sure if disturbed sleep is a cause or a symptom of cancer, but it’s a worrying sign.

If you’re a secret snorer with sleep apnea, you may notice during the day feeling very tired, having trouble concentrating, or waking up with a headache. Sleep apnea doesn’t always need to be treated if it’s mild.

But many people need to use a device called a CPAP machine. It’s free on the NHS if you need it.

The CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask that you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep. Less common treatments for sleep apnea include a gum shield-like device that helps keep your airway open while you sleep – called a mandibular elevation device – and surgery Large tonsillectomy.

Time to drink caffeine

Tea and coffee are the backbone of the UK workforce – but caffeine is a double-edged sword.

It can be the afternoon antidote if you’re feeling tired and demoralized, but it can also rob you of a quality night’s sleep.

In a 2013 study, scientists found that people who drank coffee, tea or energy drinks six hours before bed slept less than an hour.

The study was carried out on 16 ‘good sleepers’, all of whom slept 6 to 8 hours a night and usually fell asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed.

Caffeine helps you stay awake by blocking sleep-promoting receptors in your brain called adenosine receptors.

But research in 2015 has shown that caffeine can also delay how long your internal clock works.

Five people were kept under tightly controlled conditions for 49 days. Before going to bed, they were given various treatments: a double dose of espresso, exposure to bright or dim light, or a placebo. Caffeine slowed their circadian rhythms by up to 40 minutes.

What many people still don’t know is that caffeine can stay in the body for up to 10 hours.

That means people who plan to go to bed at 10 p.m. should cut back on their 12 p.m. food intake if they want to get the best sleep possible.

Caffeine can also make you more tired in other ways.

Once its effects wear off, your body can have a build-up of adenosine that attacks you all at once.

If you’re drinking coffee with added sweeteners, they can make you drowsy. Sweeteners like sugar, syrup or honey can actually cause sugar breakdown, according to a new study.

If your body is not used to the sweetener in coffee, it may produce more insulin in response. This can cause your blood sugar to drop, leading to a good drop in sugar.

Dehydration doziness

You may be surprised to learn that the majority of Britons and Americans are medically dehydrated.

A survey conducted by New York Hospital and Cornell Medical Center found that 75% of 3,000 subjects were chronically dehydrated.

And polls in the UK suggest Britons consume just 850ml of water a day – less than half the recommended daily intake – on average.

Your body needs water to function. Leaving your brain dehydrated can make you mentally fatigued.

In a 2019 study, researchers in China looked at the effects of severe dehydration on brain strength and mood. They recruited 20 people who were not allowed to drink water for a day and a half.

By surveying participants’ moods before and after dehydration, scientists at Peking University found that dehydrated people felt twice as tired.

Research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health also shows that a lack of water slows down people’s reading speed and reaction time and causes them to make more mistakes.

Dr Hassain, from King’s College London, said: ‘Not having enough water affects the entire body, including the brain, leading to feelings of fatigue.

A 2015 survey of GPs in the UK found that one in five patients came to the doctor with symptoms – such as fatigue – that could be caused by not drinking enough.

NHS guidelines state that women should drink 1.6 liters of fluid a day – the equivalent of eight glasses – while men should drink two liters, or ten glasses.

This includes tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices, although water is by far the best source as it contains no added caffeine or sugar.

Undiagnosed diabetes

Low energy can also lead to diabetes. Around 850,000 people in the UK are estimated to be living with type 2 without realizing it. A similar problem exists in the US.

This condition occurs when your body becomes insensitive to the hormone insulin, which normally controls blood sugar levels.

One reason why diabetes makes you tired is that too high or too low blood sugar disrupts sleep, Dr Sufyan Hassain at King’s College London told MailOnline.

He added: “We know the quality of your sleep varies with sugar, so having suboptimal sugar levels can disrupt sleep and make you tired.

Millions of people also have prediabetes, which can cause similar symptoms.

The link between type 2 diabetes and lack of sleep is a vicious cycle. Experts say that insomnia is not only a sign of disease, but can also be a cause.

Sleep deprivation is thought to increase insulin resistance, levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and inflammation in the body.

One of the most comprehensive papers, published in April by the University of Bristol, calculated that treating insomnia could lower blood sugar by the equivalent of 14kg (2/3lbs).

If you always feel very tired and have to wake up at night to urinate a lot, it could be a sign of this condition.

Other symptoms include feeling thirsty all the time, losing weight without trying, blurred vision, and cuts or wounds that take longer to heal.

You don’t eat enough red meat

Not eating enough red meat, dark green vegetables, or beans can be the cause of your drowsiness.

These foods are all rich in iron, a major component of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.

Dozens of studies have shown that having too few minerals can lead to anemia, which can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and an irregular heartbeat.

In the UK, the British Medical Journal found that 1 in 10 British women are iron deficient – while around 3% of men are.

Taking iron tablets is the most common treatment prescribed by doctors.

A 2003 review found that popping iron pills may even help people with low iron levels who are not clinically anemic.

Scientists at the University of Manitoba in Canada analyzed existing data from 18 clinical trials and found that taking iron tablets significantly reduced fatigue levels in people without anemia.

They suggest taking iron supplements and eating iron-rich foods for anyone who is feeling fatigued.


You may also experience the disorder due to low levels of the hormone thyroxine.

This chemical affects the entire metabolism of the body and lack of it slows down brain activity.

Around 2% of the UK population is thought to have it, most commonly caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland.

‘The problem with hormones is that they have a big effect on all of your body’s cells and tissues. They’re chemical messengers and they tell your body how it’s doing and what it’s supposed to do,” Dr Hassain says.

He added: ‘When you don’t have enough thyroxine, it slows down your brain activity, lowering your mood, as it regulates your emotional processing.

Doctors can test you for hypothyroidism by taking a blood sample.

It is mainly treated using daily hormone pills, but if left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, pregnancy problems and neck swelling as well as fatigue.

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