Can’t Keep Your Eyes Open?

Here are five possible causes of why you’re so tired.

It’s a frustrating thing when you feel dragged out all day even though you went to bed early the night before. You may have enough energy to get your work done, but as soon as you sit down to rest, your eyes feel heavy and it’s hard to get up off your seat. Any chance you get to take a nap, you take it, and you don’t know how anyone survives without three cups of coffee. You can hardly make it through your morning meeting, have trouble focusing throughout the day, and by the time work is over you’re ready to get in bed.

Sound familiar?

Excessive daytime fatigue is a common problem and has many possible causes. Lack of sleep is the most obvious reason, but here are five more culprits you may want to consider.

#1: Narcolepsy

A neurological disorder that leads to excessive daytime sleepiness and episodes of sleep that you can’t control may be the root of your tiredness. Called narcolepsy, this sleep problem is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Besides sleepiness, narcolepsy can also cause loss of muscle control, hallucinations, and brief paralysis while falling asleep or waking up. There are medications to help treat symptoms of narcolepsy, so it may be time to talk to your physician to determine if you would benefit from them.

#2: Sleep Apnea

You may think you slept soundly all night, but if you have sleep apnea, your sleep was anything but restful and restorative. Depending on what type of apnea you have (central or obstructive), your breathing throughout the night starts and stops, oftentimes without you knowing it. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, cessation of breathing, feeling short of breath, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, and waking with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth. Treatment may include weight loss, stopping smoking, treating allergies, wearing a breathing device, or surgery.

#3: Depression

Sometimes depression causes sleep problems and at other times, sleep problems can cause depression. Have insomnia? Then you’re at risk for depression. Depressed? Then you’re at risk for insomnia. Whatever the root of your depression, you feel tired, hopeless, sad, and lack interest in things you once found enjoyable. But don’t give up hope yet. There’s treatment for depression that usually includes cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication.

#4: Being Overweight

Your chances of having excessive daytime sleepiness double if you’re obese. Being overweight ranks third next to lack of sleep and depression for causing tiredness during the day. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk of sleepiness. It’s a vicious cycle because the more tired you are, the less you exercise, the more you eat, and the more weight you gain. How does being overweight make you tired? Chronic inflammation can lead to fatigue, and fat cells produce chemicals called cytokines that make you sleepy. Want to have more energy? Take steps to lose weight. That may require you to fight through tiredness for a workout, but doing so will also reduce your production of cytokines, ultimately helping you feel less tired.

#5: Prescription Drugs

You may not be depressed, overweight, or have a sleep disorder, but you may be taking medication to treat another health condition. Unfortunately, many prescription drugs come with the unpleasant side effect of fatigue. A few of the more common drugs that cause daytime sleepiness include those used to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastroesophageal reflux, seizures, anxiety, allergies, depression, and psychiatric disorders. If you’re on medication to treat one or more of these conditions and are feeling sleepier than you’d like, talk with your doctor about switching to a different medication.