How often do you say or hear someone else say, “Why am I always tired?” So many people are in a chronic state of exhaustion or trying to muster up enough energy to get through the days, weeks and months.
This article aims to break down why you may be so tired all the time, why you have no energy, the cause of fatigue and why sleep is only part of the equation.
We give you the answers you need to stop feeling so tired all the time.
As a holistic nutritionist, when I see someone who tells me "I'm always tired," I’m looking at their entire being and attempting to find and address the root cause of fatigue for their lack of vitality.
I will assess a number of different factors in a client and ask questions: is this person deficient in micronutrients and how are they sleeping?
What about their quality of life– do they feel valued in relationships? Do they drink enough water? Are they exercising or active enough in their life? Do they have time for fun and play? Are there any potential underlying health conditions?
These are some of the questions to ask ourselves and where this article will guide you. If you want to learn how to stop feeling tired all the time you must learn how to optimize these aspects of your life to regain optimal health and youthful energy. We will also explore potential health conditions you may be facing such as sleep apnea and chronic fatigue.
There are numerous factors and causes to consider why you feel so tired all the time.
You may not be getting good quality sleep or drinking enough water. You're not moving enough or maybe you have a potential chronic undiagnosed imbalance in the body?
Tiredness naturally accumulates throughout the day as we rush through our daily life, rarely stopping and processing so much cognitive information while accumulating metabolic waste as we physically move and function.
Feeling tired, to me, is the body’s way of saying “I need to rest,” a concept many of us choose to ignore and turn a blind eye. Today, society and culture cheer us on as we keep soldiering on through long work hours and stressful circumstances while feeling guilty at the thought of stopping for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation time. "Why do I always feel tired" is no longer acceptable or in our vocabulary.
Feeling tired is a symptom of something that’s not being nourished or addressed in the body.
In this article, we’re going to explore six key factors and causes that may be behind why you feel so tired all the time. After reading this article you will understand the “why” and “where” you need to make the necessary changes that cause fatigue in your life so you can fill yourself back up with lasting energy.
Let’s dive into the six common reasons and causes of why you're experiencing fatigue all the time.
These factors feed into one another so it’s important to remember we can’t pull apart sections of ourselves, since each intelligent bodily system and/or organ impacts one another.
For example, the quality of our sleep impacts how our nervous system deals with stress. Stress impacts how effectively we’re able to excrete toxins that build up and tax our energy. A lack of movement causes our mitochondria to get lazy which decreases their ability to create cellular energy – ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
Many factors can cause fatigue. If it all feels overwhelming just remember: try one new change every day or week, whatever feels most comfortable for you. Then you can build your new energetic life from there.
One of the most important causes for why you keep saying, "Why do I feel so tired" is related to poor sleep quality.
Sleep is usually the first thing people defend or point too when it comes to our energy levels. Whether you’re getting eight hours of sleep in or not, its more about how you sleep, than how many hours.
A lot happens in your body while you sleep. It is much more than just a time of inactive consciousness. Sleep is an intense time of cellular regeneration, repair and metabolic detoxification.
There are two phases of the sleep cycle; REM, which means rapid eye movement and non-REM. Each night we cycle through these two phases, first comes non-REM, followed by a period of REM sleep and then the cycle starts over again.
Each sleep cycle is about a 90-minute period.
Non-REM sleep is responsible for brain clean up, washing out all the cellular waste that’s occurred from our brain cells.
Non-REM is also all about the growth of new neurons (brain cells), deleting unnecessary neural connections and consolidating short term memory into long term memory, as well as hormone release, required for recovery and repair.
REM sleep enables new connections between our neurons and enables us to make sense of the day, create new ideas, process the day and whatever’s been on our mind and in our hearts (as our emotions are also linked to what we dream about).
Non-REM is the deep sleep that many of us may not be getting enough of and it’s likely the main reason why you feel tired all the time.
In his book; “Why We Sleep,” Dr Matthew Walker explains that sleep deprivation is classified as 7 hours or less per night.
One medically reviewed study showed that after 10 days of getting 7 hours of sleep per night, our brain dysfunction is at the same level as if we’d have not slept for 24 hours.
Poor sleep has also been linked to driving chronic degenerative diseases, systemic inflammation and causes chronic stress; three pathologies that naturally will tax and drain our energy level.
To improve your sleep quality and how much time you spend in non-REM we need to build a smart sleep routine.
Your new sleep routine looks like this;
Don’t feel overwhelmed by all these suggestions. I recommend starting out by implementing just 1-2 of these each week and see how it improves your sleep.
Stress is actually crucial for human survival. The body’s innate fight or flight response is the reason any of us exist.
We also have what’s called “eustress”, also known as “hormesis", which are the “good kind” of stressors that force and build resilience and positive adaptations in the body. Examples of hormetic stressors can be short term rigorous exercise, eating antioxidant foods or enjoying infrared saunas and cold plunges.
Stress becomes chronic when it is long term and happening all the time.
Chronic stress suppresses the immune system, causes digestion and reproduction to shut down, depletes nutrients and leaves us feeling chronically tired.
Stress activates the HPA axis, Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, the neural connection that connects our brain and adrenal glands.
When we experience or, perceive, stress, our brain sends signals to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol – the stress hormones - which activates our Sympathetic Nervous System, or our fight or flight state.
When we’re constantly living in an activated sympathetic nervous state, the body is constantly releasing cortisol which causes us to become wired and tired, run-down, fatigued and sick.
The sympathetic nervous system shuts digestion down so the body is unable to digest and utilize nutrients that cells need to make energy. It dampens our immune system which causes more susceptibility to infections and invading pathogens requiring energy to fight. It also blocks the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, disrupts our sleep and ability to clear the sleep pressure that’s been built up throughout the day.
Essentially, chronic stress causes our energy levels to drop big time!
Ideally, we want cortisol to be spiking in the mornings. Cortisol helps us wake up and get out of bed, then, it naturally dips throughout the day and is at its lowest at night while promoting melatonin to be released, sending us to sleep.
Adrenal dysfunction and a chronic imbalance of cortisol are one of the key drivers in why am I tired all the time. To bring harmony back to the adrenals, we need to look at where our perceived and real stressors are.
Stress is unavoidable in our culture and society, we have physical, emotional, existential, financial, mental, spiritual, conscious and unconscious stressors.
I truly believe understanding this and taking inventory, whether it’s a note in your phone or writing them down on a piece of paper, of where we’re experiencing stress in our lives and making hard changes, consciously releasing, trusting in a higher power, shifts so much unnecessary stress that many of us unknowingly walk around with.
These superfoods are classified as adaptogens for their natural power and incredible abilities to help humans adapt to all kinds of stressors in their life. Adaptogens help to strengthen and instruct the nervous system that we’re okay, it’s not a real threat to our survival. This is how they buffer the stress response.
If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Our thirst reflex in our brain is signalled by atrophy and shrinking of the cells, as well as chemoreceptors sensing a shift in pH and electrolyte balance.
The Kidneys play a key role in regulating fluid balance and water homeostasis, which in Taoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is also the meridian that houses our Jing – primal life-force energy– so we can see the connection between the two.
Water is essential to our survival and makes up around 60-90% of our body.
Proper hydration seems to have been looked over and ignored for its role in optimal health. Most of the focus, in general, lands on foods and nutrients.
Yet without water, we’re unable to digest and absorb nutrients from these foods. We’re unable to think properly as our brain contains water in our cerebrospinal fluid. Our blood contains water, our saliva contains water, our skin holds water, all our cells contain and are surrounded by fluid that is made up of water – water is a crucial building block of being a human.
Water also plays a key role in energy creation and metabolism and acts more like a nutrient than a beverage.
A lot of us don’t actually drink enough good quality water. One medically reviewed study showed that water consumption as a stand-alone beverage has declined since the early 2000s in the United States. We can link this to the rise of energy drinks, “smart waters” and other “flashy” marketable beverages that tell us water is boring. (1)
When it comes to why we feel tired, water plays a key role in detoxification and circulation, supporting the kidneys and the liver and GI tract.
Our emunctory organs (skin, lungs, lymph) assist in removing wastes and toxins from our bodies. Without adequate water intake, these organs and our bowels become congested and sluggish. Metabolic toxins are reabsorbed because they’re unable to be excreted properly which halts our ability to function optimally and thus feel energetic.
Water intake varies depending on our level of physical activity, but a good place to know how much water you should be consuming as a stand-alone beverage (as we get water from foods) is 0.033 Litres times your body weight.
Eg 0.033 x 75 kg = 2.4L of water as the goal each day.
Water also drives cognitive decline and causes brain fog and mental fatigue. Drinking adequate water will literally improve our mental and cognitive function.
Movement is one of the best medicines available to us.
Movement and physical activity enables adaptive changes in the body and alters gene expression of proteins that work to develop more mitochondria within our muscle tissues; further supporting more energy production. (2)
The mitochondria are the heroes of each and every one of our tiny cells. Inside them, we generate ATP – cellular energy via the Kreb’s Cycle from our macronutrients – which remember, we need water to be able to utilize. We also need to be in our parasympathetic nervous state, that restful state to properly digest.
It’s all one big holistic picture for improving our energy levels and saying goodbye to being so tired all the time. Restoring energy with Teelixir.
A review of the literature showed a positive impact of physical activity on reducing the experience and feelings of burnout. This confirms how moving our bodies more will increase energy. (3)
Remember to move regularly and find movement exercises that you love to do and enjoy, that brings value, energy and more endorphins to your life.
Whether you're aware of it or not, you could be dealing with one or more health conditions or potential hormonal imbalance and that's why you're feeling tired. Please consult your doctor to confirm any potential diagnosis. This information is not intended to be personal medical advice.
The thyroid is responsible for the release of key hormones; T4,T3, RT3 and T2. Thyroid hormones enable the conversion of food to energy and control our metabolism.
When we have a lack of T4 converting to the more metabolically active T3 the body is unable to utilize food as energy and thus experiences fatigue.
Low thyroid function can be a major driver behind chronic fatigue and feelings of tiredness. Iodine, Zinc and Selenium are three key minerals required to convert thyroid hormones to their most active form. Most people are mineral deficient due to a lack of minerals that used to be in our foods and soil.
Foods rich in iodine include seaweeds, kelp and seafood.
Foods rich in zinc include oysters, seafood, red meat and pumpkin seeds.
Brazil nuts are one of the highest food sources of selenium.
It’s also important to work with your health practitioner to conduct comprehensive testing of your thyroid. Ask for a full panel, not just your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels to assess if low thyroid function is a driver of why you feel so tired.
Systemic Inflammation and Leaky Gut
Systemic inflammation usually goes hand in hand with leaky gut. Symptoms range from chronic sickness and recurring illness to IBS and bloating, to eczema, psoriasis and acne, to chronic fatigue, brain fog and so much more.
Systemic means our entire system. When the entire body is in a chronic state of inflammation and the inflammation is driven by an immune response to either a threat (perceived or real), chronic cortisol exposure, an overload of toxins, a lack of detoxification and consumption of pro-inflammatory foods such as processed junk foods.
Removing pro-inflammatory foods–ultra-processed junks foods–from our diet and adding in more real foods is a generalized first approach to assisting and lowering systemic inflammation.
I recommend working with a practitioner, either myself or someone else if you experience any of the above symptoms. It’s best to let a professional create a personalized approach and roadmap to healing for you since each one of us is so unique in what we require.
Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis and Hashimoto’s can all be potential underlying health conditions that drive chronic tiredness.
Autoimmune conditions require proper testing for accurate diagnosis and treatment approaches. Working with a practitioner, especially one who specializes in autoimmune conditions, is paramount.
For more information and further resources about autoimmunity, research other experts in the field;
Low Iron Anaemia
In Australia, it’s estimated that around 9% of women of reproductive age are iron deficient and anaemic and around 13% in the United States. And I don’t doubt there’s so many more of us walking around with undiagnosed low iron. (4)
Iron is the mineral that enables the binding of oxygen within our red blood cells and is a key player in energy creation, mood regulation, digestion, muscle function and respiration.
Ask your GP or practitioner for an iron studies blood test to see where your levels are at. This is something I feel every female should do at least once per year.
Amongst all the recommendations and different ways, we can improve our energy levels, incorporating natural remedies provides an additional layer of support. It’s important to understand that taking a supplement isn’t going to be the magic bullet. We need to address all of the five previous topics we’ve discussed here if we want to reduce the cause of fatigue, improve energy and prevent feeling tired.
Dietary supplements are not a substitute for any prescription drugs or medications. Please do not construe this information as personal medical advice.
Fulvic Acid Ionic Minerals – are for a lack of better words, literal cell food. Fulvic minerals contain each mineral from the earth that our bodies utilize to manufacture energy. Fulvic minerals contain amino acids, fulvic acid, humic acid and electrolytes. These important nutrients that so many of us are deficient in add so much specialised nutrition to our life.
Reishi Mushroom Extract – is known as the “Queen of Mushrooms.” Reishi has been used for centuries and is incredible for helping calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system, improves sleep, promotes recovery, reduces stress and brings grounding energy and calmness to one’s life.
Cordyceps Mushroom Extract – is a potent Jing tonic that works specifically on the adrenal glands– replenishes and helps prevent the leaking of Jing energy from the Kidneys. Cordyceps also works to increase energy without the jittery and central nervous system stimulation that we experience with coffee and other one-directional stimulants.
Mushroom Immunity 8 Extract Blend – is the ultimate combination of the eight best and most scientifically tested medicinal mushrooms for supporting numerous systems in the body. These potent mushrooms increase energy, improve sleep, enhance the immune system, support gut health, improve memory, mood and stress resilience. Collectively, they all work to decrease fatigue and tiredness.
You are feeling tired after sleeping a full night because your quality of sleep needs to improve. You’re not getting enough non-REM cycles while you sleep which is that deep regenerative sleep the body requires to fully recover.
As we mentioned, non-REM sleep is highly important for brain development, recovery and detoxification.
It’s certainly not “normal” to feel tired every day but it is a very common phenomenon in modern-day society. We all say it and hear “why am I so tired?’ and so this phrase has become a normalised feeling in everyday life. But that doesn't make it okay. The main reason you feel tired is that the body is trying to tell you something, there is an imbalance that needs to be restored.
Sleep apnea occurs when breathing ceases when sleeping and blocks the delivery of oxygen to the brain and body.
Oxygen plays a key role in maintaining pH blood balance, detoxification, cognition, motor function and energy production. In individuals who suffer from sleep apnea, their sleep is constantly disrupted and they’re unable to get that deep non-REM sleep and all the benefits previously discussed regarding sleep quality. (5-7)
Sleep apnea is quite common and occurs in men more than women. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects approximately 17% of women and 34% of men in the US (2020). (5-7)
Individuals who experience sleep apnea may not even realise as the cessation of breathing isn’t enough to fully rouse the individual from sleep. Instead, they just feel chronically tired and exhausted.
Sleep apnea occurs due to a blockage of the airways where the soft tissue collapses and closes during sleep. This also often causes snoring.
Sleep apnea is usually diagnosed by a Sleep Doctor and treatment approaches include improving weight and overall health, surgical modification of the soft tissue to open up the airways, and oral appliances shifting the position of the jaw to disable the closing and improve oxygen flow. (5-7)
For a long time, the medical community shunned Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a state of hysteria and overreaction. Yet thankfully, this thinking has changed and chronic fatigue is now recognized and medically reviewed as a debilitating illness, one with some mystery around its origins and treatment.
Chronic fatigue is classified as unrelenting fatigue experienced for at least six months. It’s usually associated with muscle fatigue and pain, difficulty sleeping, immune dysfunction, mental fatigue, mood imbalances and functional impairment. It can be experienced next to additional co-morbidities such as systemic inflammation, leaky gut, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and autoimmunity. (8-11)
Chronic fatigue can also be a driver for why you feel tired. Treatment approaches vary depending on the modality of healing you turn to.
From a holistic nutrition perspective, I would treat chronic fatigue by assessing what we’ve discussed in this article. The cause of fatigue could be the stressors located in your life, quality of sleep, nutritional deficiencies, systemic inflammation, physical activity, quality of life and relationships? I would also dive deeper into genetic variations and functional testing to reveal any key biological drivers such as mould exposure or an inability to properly methylate. All of these factors can cause fatigue. (12)
Overall, we can start to see how all facets of our life contributes to you saying, "why am I tired all the time?"
How to stop feeling tired all the time you must prioritize a consistent sleep routine, identify and minimize stressors, drink plenty of enough water, stay active, focus on breath work, use natural supplements and assess any underlying health conditions.
If we address all this cause of fatigue, we can work to improve energy levels consistently for long term health and fulfilment.