Do you often wonder 'why am I so tired?'
Most of us struggle to spring out of bed in the morning - 3 out of 4 of us wake up exhausted and 60% of women feel tired all the time.
Obviously if you're not sleeping between 7 and 10 hours every night then a lack of sleep doesn't exactly help. But even factors like how you sleep and your bedclothes can make you feel tired too.
Plus, sometimes it can even be as simple as your diet that causes you to be tired. You can change this for the better with the goodtoknow Diet Club - click the button below to sign up for a free 7 day trial!
Still worried you're not getting enough sleep? Answer 9 simple questions in our sleep test and we'll look at your sleep habits and give you some advice on how to solve your sleep problems.
A study by Horlicks found that around 10 million people are so shattered in the morning that they struggle to get out of bed. If you think you're getting enough sleep, we've got 18 common reasons why you might still be tired.
1. Do you have the right pillow?
Even if you go to bed early and think you're sleeping through until morning your pillow could be undoing all this good work.
The right pillow will support your neck and spine and prevent back pain.
old or uncomfortable pillow means that you'll toss and turn all night
which stops your body getting the rest it needs, making you feel tired.
- Pillow test: Place the middle of the pillow over your arm, if the sides hang down it's time to buy a new one!1. Do you have the right pillow?
2. Do you smoke?
Smoking last thing at night can mean
your quality of sleep suffers even though you think you've had enough
sleep as nicotine is a stimulant. If you do smoke, try to have your last
cigarette at least four hours before bedtime. Nicotine patches or
chewing gum can also affect your sleep.
Need help to quit? Visit our stop smoking clinic
3. Do you wake up alot on the night?
A lot of us wake up in the night so briefly that we can't remember doing
it, making us think we've slept right through. But if you do this more
than five times a night it can be equivalent of losing an hour's sleep!
Ask yourself, is my room too light? Does my partner snore? Am I worried
about things? These can all make you wake up:
- If your partner snores, read our top ways to get him to stop, or buy ear-plugs.
- If you're worried about things, write them all down before you go to bed and deal with them in the morning.
- If you get up to go to the toilet a lot reduce how much you drink two hours before you go to bed.
- Read our guide to getting better sleep
- Stop snoring with our advice
4. Are you overweight?
Being overweight or obese means that your body has to work a lot harder
to do everyday jobs. Putting pressure on your heart means that it can't
pump blood around your body as quickly and that lowers your energy
It also means your body isn't as fast at regulating your sugar levels or
releasing hormones so you feel sluggish and tired all day.
- Find out more about obesity
- If you want to lose weight, see what your perfect diet is
5. Do you suffer from heavy periods?
If you regularly have heavy and painful periods you could also be suffering from a lack of iron, or anaemia.
Not having enough iron
in your blood can make you feel drowsy and sleepy. In the same way that
being overweight makes it harder for your heart to work properly, not
having enough iron can have a similar effect.
And you can suffer from anaemia all month long, not just when you're on
your period. Try eating foods that have a lot of iron in them like liver, baked beans and curly kale or taking supplements. Speak to your doctor if you're worried.
- Get more on what iron is good for and where you can get it from
6. Are you on medication?
There are a lot of tablets and pills that can make you drowsy. A lot of antihistamines
in particular warn you not to operate heavy machinery
Many of us don't automatically link the two, even if it does say so in
the side effects so if you're on medication this could be making you
tired. Or it might be a mixture of tablets which on their own wouldn't
affect you but together they might.
Have another look at the leaflets you get with tablets to check and if
you're worried have a chat with your doctor who might be able to suggest
- What should you have in your medicine cabinet?
7. Do you spend a lot of time indoors?
If your day is made up of waking up, getting in the car, working in an
office or staying at home all day and then going to bed you probably
don't get enough fresh air or sunshine.
Fresh air gives you oxygen and sunshine gives you vitamin D, both elements which boost your energy levels and wake you up. Both boost your immune system
too so you're less likely to get colds, bugs and other illnesses which
make you feel run down. Getting more fresh air can also help you sleep
better once you get into bed.
Try getting out of the office at lunchtime or taking the kids for a
walk. When it's warm enough open windows and doors too to let the air
and sunshine go through your house.
- Get more on what vitamin D does and where you can get it from
- Top tips to boost your immune system naturally
8. Are you stressed?
Stress and anxiety
can often cause you to lose sleep. And we all feel stressed from time
to time. Whether it's the kids getting under our feet, money worries or
just feeling like there's not enough hours in the day, stress can
quickly get on top of us and lead to more serious health problems. It
can also have an impact on how well you sleep, and lots of sleep
problems, as well as asthma attacks and diabetes in men.
9. Do you do more than thirty minutes exercise a day?
It might seem a bit backwards to suggest that the more exercise you do
the less tired you'll feel, but it's true. Although you might feel a bit
worn out after the exercise itself, raising your heart rate for 30
minutes a day releases feel good hormones which boost your energy and immune system.
If you've ever noticed that you feel just as tired, if not more, when
you've spent all day lazing about than if you're busy you'll see that
raising your heart rate does actually make it easier to stay awake.
And your body will sleep better when you get into bed as well.
If you're thinking 'I'm tired I don't feel like doing exercise' trying
taking it easy by going for a swim or a short walk. Any exercise is good
exercise and the more you do the more you'll feel like doing.
- We've got easy exercises to suit your age, weight and shape
- Get fit with the family
10. Do you have work or money worries?
Overworked? It's not new to us that worrying about our jobs and our
finances makes us feel exhausted. But a study has confirmed that work and money worries can also cause sleep problems,
saying that nearly 1 in 3 of us are having problems sleeping more than
once a week. And those who took part said work and money worries were
the biggest problem when it comes to nodding off.
It's easier said than done but if you're stressed about work, try
setting some time aside with your boss or manager to talk through your
concerns, if you're feeling overworked or not supported, and they should
be able to help you. Even a small step like this will make you feel
like you are doing something about it and you'll feel better.
11. Do you watch a lot of TV?
You're tired, it's been a long day, and you're looking forward to some
down time in front of the telly tonight. But did you know it can make
you feel tired as it can affect how well you sleep
and mean you're going to bed later than you should? Rebecca Small,
assistant medical director at Bupa says:
'Television, laptop and computer games can all stimulate the mind and
therefore can prevent a good night's sleep. Reading, meditation and
exercise such as yoga can have a relaxing affect, helping prepare your body for sleep.'
Try limiting your TV watching to an hour a night, and don't let it be
the last thing you do before you go to bed. And don't use your bed for
anything other than sleeping (and of course sex!) It's not a good idea
to watch TV in bed, or anything else like sorting out bills, make
shopping lists or arguing. Let your body recognise that when you get into bed it's time for sleep.
12. Do you eat well?
We know we harp on about the benefits of eating well but it's really important to have a balanced diet. Eating foods with high antioxidant levels (also known as superfoods) are great for your immune system and will help stop you feeling run down and tired, and getting ill. Fruit and vegetables, dairy products, melons, berries, dark greens, whole grains, and meat are all superfoods.
are vitamins in your diet that can reduce your risk of cancer and other
diseases and can give your immune system a boost. Also try to cut down
your sugar intake. Eating a lot of sugar can actually make you more
sleepy, as after the initial energy or 'sugar high' you'll have a slump
and feel tired. If you can't resist your mid-afternoon craving, have a
low-calorie hot chocolate or a few squares of dark chocolate instead.
Have a look at our foods that are better than medicine and top ten superfoods.
Make sure you drink plenty of water.
If you're feeling tired, you could be dehydrated. Drinking enough water
will help flush the body of toxins and keeps you hydrated.
13. Are you feeling unwell?
At this time of year lots of us get ill or feel under the weather. And
it hasn't helped that it's been a particularly cold winter - the coldest
since 1979! Feeling unwell makes us feel tired as our immune system is
We've collected lots of advice below to help you beat common cold weather conditions.
14. Do you drink wine before bed?
We often feel sleepy after drinking a lot of alcohol, so you're fooled
into thinking it aids sleep. Think again - our quality of sleep is
affected after having a few drinks, and you'll feel tired the next day.
It's best to avoid drinking large amounts of alcohol close to bedtime if
you are feeling tired or having sleep problems.
15. Do you drink alot of tea and coffee?
Loads of us will have a cup of tea or coffee to wake us up in the
morning and help us function properly. It does help initially but as the
day goes on the high that the coffee gave you will wear off.
This will leave you feeling drowsy and sleepy and on some occasions
worse than you would if you'd not had the coffee in the first place.
Caffeine never gets rid of your tiredness, it just masks it and it'll
also stop you getting to sleep at night, so it's a vicious circle.
You might be tired for a few days if you've recently given up caffeine
too because your body will be craving it and not letting you sleep
properly. Once it's out of your system though you'll sleep a lot better.
- Find out what the pros and cons are of drinking tea and coffee
16. Do you drink enough water?
There are loads of health benefits of drinking more water and making you feel less tired is one of them.
It boosts your immune system and energy levels because your body uses it as fuel to do everyday things.
It prevents headaches
and mood swings and helps you digest the food you eat. And it's
particularly good for helping your body break down fibre. If fibre
builds up inside you it can make you bloated, lethargic and feel 'heavy'
- all of which make you sleepy.
If you up your fibre intake you have to drink more water for it to pass
through your system properly.
- See all the other health benefits of water from losing weight to doing better at work
17. Could there be an underlying health problem?
Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and going through the menopause can all make you feel tired, fed up and sluggish as well as messing up your sleep pattern.
People who have SAD need a lot of sunshine to boost their mood and energy levels, so much so that many buy light boxes
to simulate sunshine during the winter. And if you suffer from
depression or are struggling with the symptoms of the menopause there
are natural ways you can boost your energy levels which will make you feel happier, more awake and help you cope with all that the menopause might throw at you!
There are other health problems which can make you tired like hypothyroidism, diabetes, high and low blood pressure and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If you're worried talk to your doctor.
18. Are you over sleeping?
It's easy to get distressed when you feel you're not getting a good
night's sleep, which in turn can make it harder to get off to sleep.
But what is a normal amount of sleep? And how much sleep do we actually
need? The answer is that people vary greatly in their need for sleep.
Many studies have shown that people range between needing 4 hours a
night up to needing 10 hours or more.
Also the amount of sleep a person needs varies throughout their life and
as you get older you'll need less sleep. So actually, you may be
oversleeping, not under sleeping. If you're sleeping too much, it can
make you feel tired and out of sorts.
Aim to get the same amount of sleep every night if you can. That means
going to bed at roughly the same time every night and waking up at the
same time, kids permitting (even at weekends). This should help you
regulate your body clock and you'll start to notice that you feel less
Where to next?
- Guide to getting better sleep
- How to stop snoring
- Ways to boost your immune system
- The health benefits of water
- All you need to know about vitamins and minerals
- The pros and cons of cups of tea and coffee
- Easy exercises for all ages, weights and sizes