"Why am I so tired?" is one of the most frequently asked questions on the internet. There are several potential causes for 'being tired'. First, it is important to determine what is meant by 'being tired'.
The word "tired" can mean different things to different people. Clinicians usually try to differentiate if the person has fatigue or excessive daytime sleepiness.
Fatigue generally refers to the sensation of not having enough energy to complete certain tasks. The differential diagnosis (potential causes) of fatigue is very long. The list includes medications, anemia, depression, medical disorders, and many other causes.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, or EDS, has a much shorter list. However, the list is still long. Generally, the list includes causes that interfere with quality or quantity of sleep.
Many of the causes of sleepiness and being tired include sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders.
Let's return to determining the difference between fatigue and sleepiness. With fatigue, a person will usually complain that he or she does not have enough energy to get going, or to do certain things. But, when they close their eyes sitting or laying down, they do not fall asleep. This is an important point in differentiating the two symptoms.
With tiredness and sleepiness, obviously when the person does sit or lay down for a rest opportunity, the person does fall asleep.
There are many things that you can do to be less sleepy. Once you know what the cause is, then you know where one of the fixes might be. A good start with improving daytime alertness is following good sleep hygiene. This includes getting adequate total sleep time. It also includes avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bedtime, not watching TV or reading in bed, and have a comfortable, quite, and dark bedroom.
Yes, people can have, and often do have, both complaints. It is also common for someone to have more than one problem. To start, it helps to know the difference between Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and fatigue. Instead of asking, "Why am I always tired?", the question should be "Why I am always so sleepy?" or "Why I am I always so fatigued?". Once this has been determined, the next step is to figure out why.
Just about every sleep issue or sleep disorder can be a cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Whether it is short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic), sleep problems are a leading cause for feeling tired.
To help find out the cause of your EDS we recommend speaking with your doctor. A service like lunella, allows you to take an online assessment and if at risk for sleep apnea, will send a home sleep test and send results to a sleep specialist. Click here to find out more.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.