12 Reasons For Fatigue

Tired of feeling tired? There may be more reasons for it than you know.


If you’re feeling more tired than ever, or have little energy, you’re not alone.

Fatigue may be caused by simple factors like a lack of sleep or coming down with a cold or the flu. However, it can also be caused by underlying health conditions.

Even though everyone feels tired from time to time, chronic fatigue can harm your quality of life and prevent you from doing things you enjoy.

In most cases, fatigue can be remedied by lifestyle or dietary modifications, correcting a nutrient deficiency, or treating an underlying medical condition. Still, to improve fatigue, you need to get to the bottom of what’s causing it.

Here are 12 potential reasons why you’re always tired.

1. Not enough good quality sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get enough, which may lead to fatigue.

During sleep, your body performs a number of critical processes, including releasing important growth hormones and repairing and regenerating cells. This is why most people wake up feeling refreshed, alert, and energized after a night of good quality sleep.

Even though you may know the importance of getting enough sleep, falling and staying asleep can be a struggle.

Inadequate or poor quality sleep is a common cause of fatigue. Stress, medical conditions, and poor sleeping environments may negatively affect sleep and trigger insomnia.

Check your progesterone levels: if low that may be an issue as progesterone is a natural relaxant and help in getting to sleep.

2. Nutrition deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies may lead you to feel exhausted on a daily basis, even if you’re getting more than 7 hours of sleep.

Deficiencies in the following nutrients have been linked to fatigue:

  • iron
  • riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • niacin (vitamin B3)
  • pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
  • pyridoxine (vitamin B6)
  • folate (vitamin B9)
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin C
  • magnesium

Anaemia affects 25% of the world’s population and iron deficiency is the most common type, responsible for 50% of all anaemia.

Furthermore, studies suggest that up to 20% of people in the UK ages 60 and over are deficient in vitamin B12. This deficiency is especially common in older adults because the body’s ability to absorb B12 declines with age.

B12 is critical for oxygen delivery and energy production, so low levels can cause extreme fatigue. You can take B12 in supplement form, or if you are very low your doctor can arrange to give you B12 injections on a regular basis.

Also, a vitamin D deficiency may cause fatigue. Over half of the world’s population has inadequate vitamin D levels.

3. Stress

Although some stress is normal, chronic stress is linked to fatigue.

In fact, chronic stress may lead to stress-related exhaustion disorder (ED), a medical condition characterised by psychological and physical symptoms of exhaustion.

Furthermore, chronic stress may cause structural and functional changes in your brain and lead to chronic inflammation, which may contribute to symptoms like fatigue.

Excessive stress may cause fatigue and reduce your quality of life. Prioritising time for yourself may help you manage stress.

4. Specific medical conditions

If you’re experiencing unexplained, chronic fatigue, you should visit your doctor and discuss your symptoms.

They may recommend testing to rule out certain health conditions that cause fatigue, such as sleep apnoea, hypothyroidism, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, anxiety disorders, kidney disease, depression, diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

It’s important to know that it’s not normal to feel exhausted all the time. If you experience frequent fatigue, there’s likely one or more causes.

Getting proper treatment for an underlying medical condition can help you feel better and improve other areas of health as well.

5. Dietary issues

Your diet significantly affects the way you feel because to maintain energy and get the nutrients your body needs to perform critical processes, it’s important to consume a balanced diet high in nutrient-dense foods.   

Eating too little— or eating ultra-processed foods low in essential nutrients — may lead to calorie and nutrient deficiencies, which can cause exhaustion.

If your diet is inadequate in calories and protein then your body starts breaking down fat and muscle to meet energy demands. This leads to a loss of body fat and muscle mass, which may trigger fatigue.

Post menopause you can be at greater risk due to factors like age-related changes in appetite and reductions in physical activity.

Also if you diet has a lot of highly processed foods that will also impair energy levels. For example, a diet high in added sugar may harm sleep and lead to chronically high blood sugar and insulin levels, which can result in fatigue.

In a 28-day study in 82 people, a diet high in refined sugars and highly processed grains resulted in 38% and 26% higher scores for depressive symptoms and fatigue, respectively, than a low glycemic load diet high in whole grains and legumes but low in added sugar.

Plus, a review including over 53,000 postmenopausal women associated diets high in added sugars and refined grains with a greater risk of insomnia — and diets high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains with a lower risk of insomnia.

A diet high in ultra-processed foods may hamper your energy levels, so transitioning to a nutrient-dense diet loaded with whole, nourishing foods like fruit, vegetables, and legumes may reduce fatigue. 

6. Overloading on caffeine

Although coffee and energy drinks give you a temporary boost, over-reliance on them may make you more tired the next day. That’s because too much caffeine can harm sleep, which may cause fatigue.

Research shows that feeling tired in the morning leads people to consume large amounts of caffeine, which impairs your sleep cycle. In turn, you may overuse coffee or other caffeinated drinks for energy, which continues the cycle of poor sleep followed by too much caffeine.

A study in 462 women linked high calorie coffee and energy drink intake to poor sleep quality and sleep disturbance. Those who didn’t drink these items reported better sleep quality.

Relying too heavily on caffeinated beverages may harm your sleep cycle and lead to fatigue. Therefore, cutting back on caffeine may help restore your sleep and energy levels.

7. Poor hydration

Staying well hydrated is important for maintaining energy levels. The many biochemical reactions that take place in your body every day result in a loss of water that needs to be replaced.

Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough liquid to replace the water lost in your urine, stools, sweat, and breath. Several studies show that being dehydrated leads to lower energy levels and a decreased ability to concentrate.

In fact, dehydration affects your entire body, including your sleep cycles.

Even mild dehydration may reduce energy levels and alertness. Make sure to drink enough to replace fluids lost during the day.

8. Weight gain

Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to overall health.

Not only is obesity significantly linked to a greater risk of many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, but it may also increase your risk of chronic fatigue.

Obesity greatly increases your risk of obstructive sleep apnoea as well, which is a common cause of daytime fatigue. It’s also linked to increased daytime sleepiness regardless of sleep apnea, suggesting that obesity directly affects the sleep cycle.

What’s more, people with obesity have a higher risk of conditions associated with fatigue, including depression and type 2 diabetes.

Plus, poor sleep quality and sleep restriction may cause weight gain or obesity.  

Maintaining a healthy body weight may support good sleep and energy levels, while getting high quality sleep may help prevent weight gain and reduce fatigue.

9. Drug/alcohol dependence

Research shows that people who are dependent on these are more likely to experience fatigue.

10. Shift work.

This causes sleep disruption and may result in fatigue. Sleep experts estimate that 2–5% of all shift workers have a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness or disrupted sleep over a period of 1 or more months.

11. A sedentary lifestyle

This may lead to tiredness during the day but the good news is that studies show exercising more may improve symptoms of fatigue in some people, including those with medical conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS).

12. Certain medications.

Some drugs, including steroids, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants, are linked to side effects like insomnia and increased tiredness.

Helpful information:

Even though everyone has days when they feel exhausted, constantly feeling run down and tired isn’t normal.

You may not be able to identify just what is affecting you the most, so do seek some professional help.

You might need to change your medication, alter your diet, or address specific lifestyle factors such as stress which are affecting you.

If you think you need some extra help, then this article has some useful tips.