9 Unexpected Reasons Why You Feel Tired All The Time

Like most people, I have a sleeping problem. This is to say that, while sleeping is one of my very favorite activities–rivaled only by eating and watching bad reality TV–I often find that I don’t sleep so much as I spend time fantasizing about getting more sleep. Because of this, more often than not, I am tired.

I am sure you can relate. The concept of exhaustion has reached such a level of cultural omnipresence–touching everything from makeup to clothes to memes–that it’s hard to find something that doesn’t relate, at least in some way, to fatigue. Because of this, you probably already know that there are the obvious reasons for feeling tired–you know, school, work, homework, sports, extracurricular clubs, college applications, and the potential combination of having to do all of these things all at once, which can make the idea of getting eight hours of sleep a night feel totally laughable. But there are also  some not-so-obvious reasons that you probably aren’t aware of.

Now, as with all posts of this nature that come into close proximity with some medical terminology, I am going to make the disclaimer that I am by no means a medical professional. This means that, while I can tell you about things like anemia and UTIs (both of which can potentially lead to increased fatigue), I obviously can’t tell you if you have them for sure.

Still, it can’t hurt to know about some potential causes of daily exhaustion that go beyond sleep. So, check out these things that could explain why you feel so tired all the time:


If you've ever had a UTI, you'll already know that its more noticeable symptoms--pain and burning--are objectively crappy enough on their own. But what you might not know is that UTIs can also cause you to feel seriously drained and exhausted. This is because UTIs create inflammation in the bladder, which sets off white blood cells to fight it, which can leave you feeling pretty fatigued.

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Eating Meat

Feeling the urge to nap after a meal? According to a joint study done on the effects of food on insects by researchers at from The Scripps Research Institute, Florida Atlantic University and Bowling Green State University, it's most common to feel fatigue after eating large quantities of protein and salt. AKA meat. This is because your digestive system has to work harder to break protein and salt down than any other food group, which, in turn, can make you feel tired.

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Thyroid Issues

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that help with your metabolism and protein synthesis. It's pretty common, however, for some people to have some issues with their thyroids, which can entail anything from the thyroid being underactive and not producing enough hormones to it developing physical nodules. Fatigue is one sign of a thyroid problem, as well as constipation, hair loss, and weight gain. So, if these things are happening to you, you might want to visit a doctor to get things sorted out.

Image source: iStock

An Undiagnosed Food Allergy 

Another reason why you might be feeling tired for no apparent reason is a food allergy. Some allergies and intolerances lead to feeling exhaustion or some kind of mental fog right after eating them, since your body doesn't know how to process them and uses up all of your energy trying to get it out of the system. If you feel like this is happening to you, visit an allergist to get an official diagnosis.

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Screwing Up Your Sleep Schedule

On The Weekends We've all been there--you don't get enough sleep during the week, so you crash during the weekend and sleep until 3 PM on Saturday and Sunday. While this definitely feels good at the time, this can actually add up over time to you feeling more exhausted overall, since your body needs a somewhat consistent sleeping schedule. Otherwise, you'll feel sluggish, even if you've technically gotten more than enough sleep.

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Being On Your Phone Right Before Bed 

Don't get on your phone (or your computer, or iPad, or anything with a harsh light) right before you go to bed! The backlighting from the screen can mess with your circadian rhythm, which is your body's internal clock that helps regulate when feel like you should be awake and when you should be asleep. Most experts recommend staying away from any screens for about two hours before you go to sleep, but, if you are anything like me, that's probably not going to happen. If so, try to hold the screens at least fourteen inches away from your face and try to do some reading before bed.

Image source: iStock

Your Instagram Habit

It's not just the harsh light from your screen that could be keeping you up at night, however--according to Tech Times, one in five "young people" has the habit of losing sleep due to social media. This is because it's pretty common to wake up during the night to check apps and send messages. So, if you wake up in the middle of the night and feel the urge to check your phone, try to power through it and go back to sleep.

Image source: iStock


 Anemia is a condition in which a person has lower levels of red blood cells--and, subsequently, lower hemoglobin, iron, and vitamin B12--than normal. This is more common in girls than guys, and can lead to exhaustion, lack of concentration, and always feeling cold. This can usually be improved through diet and supplements that are rich in B12, iron, and vitamin C.

Image source: iStock

An Undiagnosed Sleeping Disorder

Sleep Disorder It's possible that you feel like you're sleeping a lot--like, you go to bed early and wake up late--but, when you wake up in the morning, you feel like you haven't slept at all. If so, you might have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder like sleep apnea, which causes disruptions in sleep through snoring and waking up randomly throughout the night. Most people who have sleep apnea are male and older, but this doesn't mean that it's impossible for you to get it (one of my friends had it in high school). It can also lead to some other health issues, so if you feel like there's a chance you might have it, definitely see a doctor.

Image source: iStock

Do you feel tired for no reason a lot? Were you surprised by these reasons? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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