Why am I always tired?

Why Am I Always Tired?

For most working people, exhaustion is a regular part of the workweek — and old acquaintance who pops in to say hello at the most inconvenient times. People who work in high paced industries regularly battle fatigue and pushing through is often the only option. Likewise, university students are no strangers to all night study sessions and last-minute cramming.

When the chips are down, caffeine is the trump card that most adults play. Caffeine holds a place of prominence in our society as evidenced in glitzy artisan coffee shops and enormous brands whose singular goal is to keep us all caffeinated. Suffice to say caffeine is arguably the most widely accepted drug in the world, so much so that many of us forget it’s a drug at all. And yet, for all of caffeine’s glorious benefits, it sometimes lets us down.

If any of this resonates with you then you’ve likely asked at one time or another — why am I so tired? Whether it’s a case of the Monday’s or a Friday afternoon that just won’t come, we’ve all hit a wall at some point and found that our go-to caffeinated beverages offered diminishing returns. The reason that caffeine sometimes doesn’t deliver has much to do with how it affects the body.

How Caffeine Works

Caffeine doesn’t erase exhaustion, rather, it covers it up. When caffeinated beverages are absorbed in our bodies, they stimulate the nervous system and affect blood pressure, heart rate, muscles, and the brain. As a result of these signals, we gain increased mental alertness as well as enhanced energy which can help with athletic performance.

People rely on caffeine for a number of functions beyond just energy and alertness:

  • Enhanced exercise for weight loss
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Memory

While caffeine can help people function better in their daily lives, it cannot overcome a sleep debt, or the persistent fatigue that comes from too much activity and not enough rest. Caffeine will simply mask these symptoms until you can no longer push through and you’re suddenly asking; Why am I so tired?

The result is that we often try to consume more coffee and that leads to undesirable effects:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Dehydration

Experiencing the side effects of caffeine while feeling exhausted can make things markedly worse, especially if insomnia sets in just as you finally have a chance to fall asleep. Instead of fixating on whether or not caffeine is working for you, it often helps to look at the big picture, and identify what it is that is actually making you feel so exhausted.

Common Causes of Exhaustion

#1 Poor Sleeping Habits

The very first thing to examine is your sleep schedule. Without a regular sleep routine your body will have a difficult time regulating itself. There are four stages of sleep, all essential to a healthy sleep architecture. How you prepare for sleep and your routine prior to falling asleep can have a huge influence on the way your body rests.

While all four sleep cycles are important, REM (rapid eye movement) has the most dramatic effect on our healthy and well being. The REM cycle is the fourth cycle of sleep and the moment where your body enters its most restful stage; it’s also incredibly important for brain health as REM sleep cycle is believed to foster memory retention and learning.

Certain minor health conditions can prevent you from entering REM sleep — restless leg syndrome is a nagging condition which causes fidgeting while at rest, and it’s a major culprit in preventing REM sleep. On the other hand, if falling asleep after an exhausting day your primary challenge, adding exercise to your day, or limiting screen time at night can help you sleep better. Try to limit caffeine late in the day too.

If all else fails, a medicinal mushroom supplement for sleep could provide the solution you’re seeking. Lion’s Mane and Reishi mushrooms can aid you in maintaining a natural sleep cycle and their high concentration of antioxidants and adaptogens will help you combat daytime stressors.

#2 Lack Of Exercise

Regular exercise will help you sleep better but it will also help you develop more endurance and combat daytime fatigue. In fact, an hour workout can do more for your body than a cup of coffee. Exercise releases endorphins — hormones that are associated with positive feeling and have both anti-stress and pain killing properties.

There are multiple scientific research studies which have concluded that when people who live a sedentary lifestyle introduce regular exercise, they experience less fatigue and have more energy. If you’re already feeling rundown you might not feel like working out, but supplements that include Chaga could help you overcome your workout dread and provide you with the energy needed to establish a consistent workout schedule.

#3 Stress

Living with stress can feel as though you’re carrying around a boulder on your back. Stress is exhausting and its effects on the body are vast; stress can elevate your heart rate, cause you to sweat profusely and bog you down with intrusive thoughts. Together, this can lead to exhaustion as well as making you more susceptible to stress in general.

Managing stress is essential; fortunately, some adaptogenic mushrooms are excellent stress relievers, and by taking a Reishi mushroom supplement you’ll prepare your body for future stress and increase your resilience.

#4 Too Much Sugar

Some non-coffee drinkers prefer sugary drinks or energy drinks for getting through the workday. Most of these beverages contain high amounts of caffeine and soaring quantities of sugar. Too much sugar becomes a double-edged sword, because it makes you jittery after ingestion and leads to huge crashes later. A poor diet in general can produce significant levels of fatigue, so working on your diet has the potential to provide you with a boost in energy.

#5 Dehydration

Dehydration hurts. Many people experience severe headaches when they become dehydrated, and a headache is often just the beginning; muscle cramps and persistent fatigue are common symptoms of dehydration. Complicating matters — caffeine adds to dehydration, so as you drink more coffee in an attempt to stay alert, you add to your fatigue.

While the topic or urination is somewhat taboo, the color of your urine will tell you a lot about your levels of hydration; clear or light-coloured urine is a sign that you’re drinking plenty of water and dark coloration is a sign that your body isn’t receiving as much water as it needs. Increasing your water intake is an easy (free) way to increase your energy and monitoring water levels is effortless.

#6 Medical Conditions

Some people learn about undiagnosed medical conditions only after doing everything right. If you’re sleeping well, exercising, eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water, and you don’t suffer from anxiety or have much stress in your life, then persistent fatigue is a red flag.

There are multiple chronic illnesses that present as fatigue; chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia and diabetes are accompanied by exhaustion, and there are a range of minor medical conditions that can cause persistent exhaustion.

Finding Solutions To Exhaustion and Lethargy

Feeling lethargic at the start of the workday will destroy your morale. Though one or two cups of coffee will generally have a positive impact on your energy, overindulging comes at a heavy cost. Fortunately, there are some creative solutions out there, many of which will fit seamlessly into your daily routine.

#1 Reduce Caffeine Intake   

It probably sounds counterproductive, however, reducing the amount of caffeine you ingest can in fact make you feel more energetic. Regular caffeine consumption creates a dependency, and this increases the amount of fatigue you feel as well as creating a need to consume more caffeine. Cutting back on coffee isn’t easy but there’s a product that can really help – and that product is mushroom Coffee.

Mushrooms Coffee Alternatives

Not all mushroom coffee products contain actual coffee — some have cacao and feature substantially lower caffeine content, in some cases just 1/7 the caffeine of regular coffee, but don’t think for a minute that you’ll experience reduced energy. Mushroom coffee supplements remove the jitters from coffee and provide a natural energy boost.

Subbing out your morning coffee for a mushroom coffee alternative will prevent you from overindulging on caffeine, all the while delivering a dose of adaptogens, and antioxidants for immune support and energy.

Take a look at our mushroom coffee here.

#2 Reduce Gluten

Those with Celiac Disease experience serious fatigue and digestive issues from consuming gluten but what you might not know, is that gluten is sometimes hard on people who aren’t celiac. Shifting your diet away from breads and pastas to fruits and vegetables can help you feel more energetic, and your body won’t exert as much energy digesting these foods.

#3 Increase Water Consumption

Drinking more water is easy — remembering is the hard part. One relatively thoughtless method for increasing your water intake is to buy an insulated bottle and bring it to work. This should help you remember to regularly drink water just by the nature of sitting on your desk. Another good idea is to “chase” coffee with water. After every cup of coffee, drink a cup of water. By doing this you’ll ensure that dehydration doesn’t become an issue.

#4 Add Exercise

Exercise will increase your energy over time, but it can do much more; by fitting in a workout after the workday is over, you’ll destress much faster by releasing endorphins. This will also help establish a routine as once you come home the responsibilities are finished; coming home and heading out again for a workout is an unappealing prospect for some.

Conclusion: Why Am I So Tired?

Because your body isn’t getting what it needs. Establishing healthy habits is the best way to enhance your energy and combat fatigue. Mushroom supplements can help you in this regard by enhancing your immune system and reducing oxidative stress and when coupled with positive lifestyle changes, you’ll feel prepared for the challenges of the workday and won’t need to rely as heavily on caffeinated beverages.

About the author:

This article was written by Olivia Kenny M.D. Olivia Kenny received her medical degree from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2005. For the past 5 years she provided services as a family doctor at the West Side Medical Clinic.

  1. Bjarnadottir, A. (2021, September 9). 21 common signs of gluten intolerance. Healthline. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/endorphins-the-brains-natural-pain-reliever.
  3. Peever, J., & Fuller, P. M. (2016, January 11). Neuroscience: A distributed neural network controls REM sleep. Current biology : CB. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846126/
  4. Pizzino, G., Irrera, N., Cucinotta, M., Pallio, G., Mannino, F., Arcoraci, V., Squadrito, F., Altavilla, D., & Bitto, A. (2017). Oxidative stress: Harms and benefits for human health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/
  5. Temple, J. L., Bernard, C., Lipshultz, S. E., Czachor, J. D., Westphal, J. A., & Mestre, M. A. (2017, May 26). The safety of ingested caffeine: A comprehensive review. Frontiers in psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445139/

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