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Overcoming Tiredness and Fatigue: A Comprehensive Guide

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Tiredness and fatigue are common issues that many people face. These conditions can affect your quality of life, productivity, and overall well-being. This article explores the common causes of tiredness and fatigue, as well as practical solutions to combat them and regain your vitality.

Key Takeaways

  • Common causes of tiredness include lack of sleep, unhealthy lifestyle, stress, hormonal changes, and certain illnesses or medications.
  • Improving tiredness involves maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and establishing a good sleep routine.
  • Seeking medical advice is crucial if tiredness persists without a clear cause.

What Causes Tiredness and Fatigue?

Tiredness can stem from various factors. Here are some of the prevalent causes:

  • Lack of Sleep or Insomnia: Not getting enough restorative sleep is a primary cause of tiredness. Adults should aim for 6 to 9 hours of sleep at night.
  • Sleep apnoea or other sleep disorders can cause sleepiness.
  • Unhealthy Lifestyle: Poor dietary choices and lack of exercise can lead to fatigue. Adopting a balanced diet and regular physical activity can significantly improve energy levels.
  • Stress and Mental Health Challenges: Stress, or dealing with life's challenges such as stressful life events, work, long or night shifts, quality of personal relationships, any dependents and carer stress, and domestic abuse, cause both physical and mental exhaustion.
  • Recreational drug use and alcohol consumption can cause significant tiredness.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, or testosterone abnormalities can cause tiredness.
  • Conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypercalcaemia, hypothyroidism, electrolyte abnormalities, anaemia, post-traumatic stress disorder( PTSD) and depression.
  • Any chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and heart failure may cause fatigue.
  • Illnesses and Medications: Conditions like glandular fever, COVID-19, or treatments like chemotherapy can lead to tiredness.
  • Dehydration: People who are suffering from significant dehydration often find that they feel extremely tired, lethargic, or sleepy.
What causes tiredness infographics

The Impact of Tiredness on Daily Life

Tiredness and fatigue can significantly impair one's ability to function optimally. It affects productivity, mood, and even interpersonal relationships.

Aspect Impact of Tiredness
Work Performance Decreased productivity, lack of focus, increased errors
Social Life Withdrawal from social activities, irritability
Physical Health Weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to illness, reduced exercise tolerance

Addressing Tiredness and Fatigue

Establishing a Sleep Routine

Establishing a regular sleep routine is crucial to combat tiredness. Here are some tips to enhance your sleep quality:

  • Stick to the same sleep and wake times every day.
  • Scientific studies and sleep researchers have found that our sleeping environments have real and measurable effects on sleep. Try to maintain an optimal sleep temperature, typically ranging from 16 to 22 Celsius, create darkness, and reduce noise and electronics.
  • Relax a couple of hours before bed by reading, listening to music, or a podcast. (Sleep Help: What Can I Do To Sleep Better At Night? - BetterHelp)
  • Reduce alcohol level. Scientific studies have shown having more than two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women decreased sleep quality by 39.2%.
Sleepy cat

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

A balanced diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining energy levels. Here are some tips:

  • Include a variety of nutrients in your diet. Avoid or limit the amount of processed foods.
  • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly.
  • Stay hydrated, and limit alcohol, nicotine and caffeine intake.

Stress Management Techniques

Managing stress effectively can significantly reduce tiredness. Some stress management techniques include:

  • Mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises.
  • Time management and organizational skills to balance life's demands.
  • Engaging in hobbies and activities that you enjoy.

For more information on managing stress, you can visit Self-help tips to fight tiredness - NHS.

Identifying Underlying Medical Conditions

Tiredness and fatigue may sometimes be a sign of underlying medical conditions. It's crucial not to self-diagnose but to seek professional medical advice if tiredness persists without a clear cause. Here are some medical conditions that might be related to fatigue:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest. The causes of CFS are poorly understood, and there’s no specific diagnostic test. However, a thorough medical evaluation can help to identify the potential cause.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome can interfere with one’s ability to get a restful night’s sleep. If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, it's advisable to consult with a sleep specialist.


Anaemia is a condition where your body lacks enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues, causing tiredness and weakness.

To find out whether anaemia is a possible cause of your tiredness, check our Tiredness Screening Blood Test.

Thyroid Issues

Thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, among other symptoms. A simple blood test can determine whether you have a thyroid issue.

You can check your thyroid function with the Thyroid Screening Blood Test.


Fatigue can also be a symptom of diabetes. If you're constantly tired, a blood sugar test could be insightful. A simple blood test can help you to find out your sugar control - we offer diagnostic diabetes blood tests.

Other Possible Conditions

There are numerous other medical conditions that could lead to fatigue, including heart disease, kidney disease, and depression.

Healthy diet example

Actionable Steps to Combat Tiredness

Once you have identified and addressed any underlying medical conditions, or if your tiredness is due to lifestyle factors, here are some actionable steps you can take to combat tiredness and improve your energy levels:

Nutritional Adjustments

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet is balanced and nutritious, providing all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. According to NHS Eat Well guide the recommended daily water intake is 6-8 cups of water per day.
  • Avoid Stimulants: Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Relaxation and Mindfulness

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practice mindfulness and meditation to reduce stress and improve your sleep quality. You can read more about it here.
  • Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing exercises to relax your mind and body.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can significantly boost your energy levels. Here are some suggestions:

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Stretching and Mobility Exercises: Incorporate stretching and mobility exercises to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.
Exercising to stay healthy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How much sleep do I need to combat tiredness?

A: Adults typically need between 6 to 9 hours of sleep. However, the exact amount may vary from person to person.

Q: Can diet really affect my energy levels?

A: Yes, a balanced diet provides the nutrients your body needs to function correctly, thus affecting your energy levels.

Q: When should I see a doctor about my tiredness?

A: If tiredness persists despite making lifestyle changes, or if it interferes with your ability to carry out daily activities, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.