It is important to differentiate sleepiness from tiredness. When we feel sleepy, it is a conscious struggle to remain awake. On the other hand, when we are tired, we may feel fatigued but still remain relatively alert. You could think about this distinction by associating tiredness as a physical symptom experienced in the muscles in our body. Sleepiness however, is more like ‘brain tiredness’.
Here are 7 health conditions known to cause tiredness or fatigue
One of the main symptoms of diabetes, a long-term condition caused by too much sugar (glucose) in the blood, is feeling very tired. The other key symptoms are feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot, and weight loss.
As well as making you feel very sad, depression can also make you feel drained of energy. It can stop you falling asleep or cause you to wake up early in the morning, which makes you feel more tired during the day.
This baffling condition causes a strong fatigue that comes on quickly. People who suffer from CFS feel too tired to carry on with their normal activities and are easily exhausted with little exertion. Other signs include headache, muscle and joint pain, weakness, tender lymph nodes, and an inability to concentrate. Chronic fatigue syndrome remains puzzling, because it has no known cause.
You could have this sleep-disrupting problem if you wake up feeling tired no matter how much rest you think you got. Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. In the most common type, obstructive sleep apnea, your upper airway actually closes or collapses for a few seconds, which, in turn, alerts your brain to wake you up to begin breathing again. Someone with obstructive sleep apnea may stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times a night, says Roseanne S. Barker, MD, former medical director of the Baptist Sleep Institute in Knoxville, TN.
One of the most common medical reasons for feeling constantly run down is iron deficiency anaemia. Women with heavy periods and pregnant women are especially prone to anaemia.
But it can also affect men and postmenopausal women, when the cause is more likely to be problems with the stomach and intestines, such as an ulcer or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Typically, you feel you can’t be bothered to do anything, your muscles feel heavy, and you get tired very quickly. It’s possible to have too much iron, which can also cause tiredness, when it’s known as iron-overload disorder (haemochromatosis).
Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. But some people have constant uncontrollable feelings of anxiety that are so strong they affect their daily life. Doctors call this generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). It’s a common condition, affecting slightly more women than men. As well as feeling worried and irritable, people with GAD often feel tired.
A thyroid disorder can show up in many different forms because the thyroid gland is considered a “master gland,” one that secretes hormones that in one way or another impact almost every bodily function. For example, the thyroid gland is responsible for regulating body temperature, heart rate, production of protein, and also helps control your metabolic rate and energy levels.