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Understanding and Overcoming Common Causes of Fatigue



For individuals who suffer from fatigue, the condition can mean a severe decline in their performance at work, participation at home, and overall health. Suffering from fatigue can also have deadly consequences, as approximately 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries related to automobile accidents occur as a result of driver fatigue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of adult motorists admitted to driving a vehicle while drowsy, and roughly 38 percent of motorists admitted to falling asleep when behind the wheel.

Considering the severe consequence associated with fatigue, you’d think that most people would ensure they received enough sleep at night to feel rested for the next day. However, busy schedules filled with personal and work commitments make it difficult for millions of Americans to get the seven to eight hours of sleep they need nightly to feel fully rested.

In addition to time constraints, a number of other factors can contribute to sleeplessness and fatigue and this Why Am I So Tired Quiz can help narrow down the possible causes. Here are a few of the more common problems that keep people up at night and feeling fatigued the next day.

Sleep Apnea

An alarming condition that causes you to stop breathing during the night, sleep apnea can interfere with the rest you receive. When you stop breathing in your sleep, you momentarily awaken from the type of deep sleep the body needs to feel rested. Even if you don’t fully awaken, having your sleep repeatedly broken at night can cause you to experience fatigue the next day even if you get a full eight hours of sleep. Individuals suffering from the condition can try several remedies to sleep better, including quitting smoking, losing weight if overweight, and using a CPAP device that keeps the airways open at night.

Running on Empty

A lack of sleep isn’t the only potential cause of fatigue. Individuals who don’t eat enough, or who eat poorly, can also experience frequent bouts of fatigue. A balanced diet helps to ensure that your blood sugar levels stay within a normal range and keeps you from feeling sluggish and tired once your blood sugar levels drop.

To help maintain your blood sugar, try not to skip breakfast and always include a source of protein and some complex carbohydrates into each meal. A breakfast, for example, that would meet these standards could be as simple as an egg with a piece of whole-grain toast. Make sure you snack throughout the day, if needed, to prevent a drop in blood sugar from occurring.


One of the leading causes of fatigue in women, anemia is generally caused by an iron deficiency in the blood. The condition causes the body to produce an insufficient number of healthy red blood cells, which your body needs to carry oxygen to organs and tissue. Without enough oxygen circulation, your body begins to feel tired and sluggish. To prevent the onset of anemia, try taking iron supplements and eating plenty of iron-rich foods like liver, beans, shellfish, and lean cuts of meat.


A small gland found at the base of the neck, your thyroid controls your body’s metabolism and thereby the rate at which it processes food into fuel. When the gland function too slowly, you may start gaining weight and feel constantly fatigued. To determine if you suffer from hypothyroidism, you need to undergo a blood test to confirm the condition. Once diagnosed, your doctor can prescribe synthetic hormones that speed up your metabolism.

Caffeine Overload

While caffeine normally increases your concentration and alertness when consumed in moderate doses, drinking too much caffeine can actually cause some people to feel fatigued instead of alert. Excessive caffeine consumption can also cause you to experience an accelerated heart rate, jitteriness, and high blood pressure, all of which can lead to exhaustion.

To decrease caffeine-related fatigue, begin by slowly cutting back on the number of cups of coffee, bottles of soda, or energy drinks you consume in one day. Tying to quit caffeine cold turkey could lead to you experience withdrawal-like symptoms.


Commonly thought of only as an emotional disorder, depression can also contribute to a variety of physical issues. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, frequent headaches, and a loss of appetite. If you experience these symptoms for several weeks, you should seek medical treatment by consulting with a physician.


Fatigue can also be a symptom of dehydration. Regardless of whether you’re working at your desk or working out at the gym, your body still needs plenty of water to properly function. As a rule of thumb, you’re already dehydrated once you feel thirsty. To ensure you stay fully hydrated, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and make sure you consume at least two glasses at least one hour prior to engaging in any sustained strenuous physical activity.