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Reasons Why You Always Feel Tired and What You Can Do About It

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Do you recognize the feeling of waking up in the morning and not feeling rested at all? As if the fuel has already been used up? You may not have slept well, but sometimes fatigue can also be related to other causes that are not solved by simply sleeping. Do you want to find out where your fatigue comes from? And especially what you can do about your fatigue? Then read on.

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Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue feels different for everyone; the symptoms of fatigue are therefore very diverse. You may feel a lack of energy or feel generally lethargic. Physically, you feel that you can handle less than usual. You may feel dizzy and experience a headache. All processes that normally go by themselves (moving, working, shopping) are now slower and more difficult. Your ability to concentrate is reduced. Your skin looks grayer. Fatigue also causes mental symptoms. The lack of energy makes you less resilient and you react impulsively. This can lead to crying spells or feeling irritated or angry quickly. In fact, you just want to catch up on sleep.

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You’re not alone in that. In the Netherlands, 20% of men and almost 30% of women have felt tired at some point in the past month. Only a small proportion visit a doctor with this complaint. For most people, this fatigue is short-lived, and a few extra nights of sleep can do wonders. However, for some people, this is really different. They experience long-term complaints of fatigue and this has a major impact on their lives.

Where Does Fatigue Come From?

In most cases of fatigue, there is a lack of (good quality) sleep. During sleep, the body recovers. Waste is cleared away, your immune system gets going; your battery is literally recharged, so you have enough energy for the next day. When your sleep is negatively affected, for example by worrying thoughts, medication, or a medical condition, the body does not recover sufficiently, and you do not feel rested and energetic the next day. If the fatigue is caused by a lack of sleep, this is often solved by sleeping a few extra nights.

But if sleeping doesn’t help enough, there may be other causes where the fatigue comes from. We divide these causes into two groups: physical causes of fatigue and psychological causes of fatigue.

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Psychological Causes of Fatigue

All the events that take place in life that we think about a lot or spend a lot of time on take an incredible amount of energy. Although there is no physical exertion involved, thinking about and processing the emotions they evoke also demand a lot from our body. This is why many people experience extreme fatigue when something major has happened in their lives. You often think about it, analyze what happened, perhaps worry, or try to find a solution to a problem.

These thoughts may not take place all day long and may not feel like energy wasters, but they can subconsciously demand a lot from our energy. When there is also listlessness, no interest in anything, and a gloomy mood, there may be depression. People with depression experience much more fatigue than people without depression. Anxiety and panic complaints, for example after a major event or a busy period at work, can also cause fatigue.

Physical Causes of Fatigue

Often there is not only a psychological component but also a physical component when we look at the causes of fatigue. An unhealthy lifestyle can make a major contribution to the degree of fatigue. People with a healthy lifestyle experience significantly fewer fatigue complaints than people with an unhealthy lifestyle. For example, daily exercise can ensure that your physical condition is better and you feel fitter. It also reduces excess weight. People who are overweight have a greater risk of various chronic diseases, but also experience fatigue complaints more often due to their extra weight. Good nutrition provides the right energy and is indispensable in a healthy lifestyle. When someone eats too little.

In addition, a one-sided diet, in which certain foods are not eaten or eaten too little, will also cause you to develop a vitamin and/or mineral deficiency. Some of these deficiencies can cause extreme fatigue symptoms, such as a deficiency of iron, vitamin B12, or vitamin D. Stimulants, such as alcohol and drugs, can negatively affect your sleep and thus make a major contribution to the development of fatigue.

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And finally, there are medical conditions that can cause fatigue.

  • A common physical cause of fatigue is an infection. Every infection, from a simple cold to a serious stomach flu, costs the body extra energy to solve this. This can cause fatigue symptoms for a period of time.
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, also cause long-term fatigue, accompanied by diarrhea and other abdominal complaints.
  • Anemia is more common in women, especially in women with heavy menstrual periods and an iron deficiency as a result. Anemia causes complaints of fatigue, because less oxygen can be transported through the blood to the organs.
  • Different types of metabolic disorders can also cause fatigue, such as diabetes or an underactive thyroid gland.
  • Diseases of the heart and lungs (such as heart failure and asthma) are a major attack on your condition and can therefore cause fatigue.
  • An infection with the coronavirus can cause long-term complaints in some people, we call this the Post-Covid Syndrome. The Post-Covid Syndrome has long-term fatigue complaints as one of the main complaints. Do you want to know if you have corona? Then order one of our corona self-tests.
  • Cancer causes fatigue as one of the main symptoms.

Do you want to test whether you have diabetes or perhaps an intestinal disorder? Then simply do the diabetes self-test or the complete gastrointestinal test at home.

Fatigue can also be related to low cortisol levels. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. With the cortisol self-test, you can easily measure your cortisol levels at home.

Related tests

What to Do Against Fatigue?

It is important to work on a good night’s sleep. In addition, there are many other tips against fatigue. First of all, it is very important to work on a healthy lifestyle. People with a healthy lifestyle feel fitter, more energetic, and complain less about fatigue.

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Lifestyle Tips Against Fatigue Are:

  • Eat fruit and vegetables daily and vary widely so that you get all the vitamins and minerals. In addition, try to eat enough nutrients so that you get enough energy for the day. Try to get this energy mainly from healthy food and less from processed food, such as cookies, candy, or chips.
  • In addition, movement is very important to feel fit. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise every week, but more is always better.
  • If you smoke, it is advised to stop. Smoking not only causes fatigue but also increases your risk of chronic diseases later in life.
  • Limit alcohol. It is best not to drink alcohol at all. If you still want to drink alcohol, limit it to a maximum of 1 unit per day. You will notice that your sleep quality improves the moment you stop drinking alcohol.
  • Do not use drugs.
  • Try to limit caffeine (found in coffee, tea, energy drinks), especially later in the day, so it doesn’t affect your sleep quality.
  • Reduce your screen time (cell phone, computer, TV), especially at the end of the day. Light from screens can disrupt your melatonin balance, preventing your body from getting tired and making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Do you experience stress complaints? Try to reduce these by finding an activity that relaxes you, such as walking outside, exercising, reading a book, or another hobby. Can’t reduce your stress? Talk about it with someone you trust.
    Gives fatigue as one of the main symptoms.
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And if the Fatigue Persists?

Are you constantly tired despite the above tips? And don’t you have an explanation for this? Or do you experience other physical complaints with your fatigue? Then the advice is to visit a doctor and investigate this further.

In conclusion, it is normal to feel tired from time to time. Often it is caused by a lack of sleep or another factor in your lifestyle. Your tiredness is then solved by sleeping a few extra nights or working on a healthier lifestyle. However, do you experience fatigue complaints continuously or do you experience physical complaints in addition to the fatigue, such as weight loss? Then it is important to visit a doctor for further examination.


drs. Elise Janssen

Approved by a doctor

drs. Elise Janssen

Medical content writer

Drs. Elise Janssen completed her MSc. in Medicine at the Free University, Amsterdam. She is currently training as a family physician at Amsterdam UmC. For Easly, she writes medical blogs and reviews medical texts.

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