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How long has it been since you’ve felt alert, and uplifted after a good night’s sleep? It’s time to work out why you're so tired so you can solve the mystery and get back to feeling like your best self.
Everyone feels tired now and again, especially after a hard day. But trying to function when you’re really tired is a different story — particularly if it doesn't let up.
If you're too tired to mutter ‘Hi‚’ to someone during the day, even after a full night's sleep, or if you find yourself struggling to stay awake behind the wheel or in a meeting, it’s time to act. But first, you need to decide whether your main problem is fatigue or sleepiness.
What’s the difference? Fatigue is when you don’t have the energy to do anything. Even small tasks are a major effort and you feel like you have to drag yourself through the day. Excessive daytime sleepiness is when you feel like you could easily nod off at any time during the day. You may also have trouble concentrating and remembering things.2
Persistent fatigue has many possible causes and it’s something you should talk to your doctor about. With excessive daytime sleepiness, there are a few suspects you can eliminate yourself:
Are you making enough time to sleep? Partying or working too hard? Maybe your sleep is disturbed by children, a snoring partner or outside noise. Sooner or later this ‘sleep deprivation’ catches up with you and your body says ‘Please sleep!’ Good sleep is essential to good health. Learn more about sleep health.
If you can’t fall asleep easily, if you wake up during the night or if you keep waking up too early in the morning, you’ll naturally feel sleepy during the day, especially if it’s happening night after night. Pin down the cause of your insomnia, and you’re on your way to solving your sleepiness problem.
Working rotating shifts may put your body clock out of sync so you have trouble sleeping when you need to and this could be the cause of your excessive sleepiness.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes a person to fall asleep at odd times, even in the middle of a conversation. Your doctor can diagnose this and prescribe treatment.3
Depression may cause feelings of sadness, anxiety and hopelessness. It can also cause a whole range of other symptoms, including sleepiness. Sleep problems may contribute to depression and vice versa. It’s important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment if you think you might be depressed.
Sleep apnea is a secret sleep stealer and can be a cause of daytime sleepiness. It causes you stop breathing while you’re asleep for up to 10 seconds at a time. This can happen hundreds of times a night!4 Every time you have an ‘apnea’ your blood oxygen level drops and your blood pressure spikes. Left untreated, sleep apnea may put a major strain on your body.
You may not even know you have it, until someone tells you that you’re snoring or gasping for breath while you sleep. Some people with sleep apnea don’t actually snore at all.5 It's not surprising that this constant sleep disruption can cause you to feel desperately sleepy during the day.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. You can try a simple free sleep assessment to see if you’re at risk. A home sleep test is generally used to diagnose sleep apnea.
The good news is that sleep disorders like sleep apnea are treatable.
If you’d like more information about sleep apnea and how it’s treated, download our free Sleep Apnea Treatment Handbook.
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
https://www.verywellhealth.com/sleepiness-fatigue-difference-3973906 accessed 27 June 2019.
https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-why-you-feel-sleepy-3014818 accessed 27 June 2019.
https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea-daytime-sleepiness#4-10 accessed 27 June 2019.
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea accessed 27 June 2019.
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