Some people find themselves feeling drowsy all day, even after a full night’s sleep. If you're constantly battling with the urge to nap or struggling to stay awake during meetings, you’re not alone. Many people deal with persistent fatigue that disrupts their daily lives. But what’s behind this relentless sleepiness? Here are 5 common culprits that might be stealing our energy and making us drowsy.

Major sleep issues

Sleep disorders are a significant cause of ongoing tiredness. Conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome can severely disrupt our sleep quality. Sleep apnea, for instance, is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep, leading to poor rest. Insomnia, characterised by difficulty falling or staying asleep, affects about one-third of adults at some point in their lives, leading to chronic fatigue. A study published in the journal Sleep found that chronic insomnia is linked to a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, and even cardiovascular diseases. Meanwhile, restless legs syndrome causes uncomfortable sensations and an urge to move the legs, which can severely disrupt sleep and lead to daytime drowsiness.

Excessive stress

When we're under significant stress, our body releases cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which keeps us in a state of heightened alertness. This can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to long-term health problems, including sleep disorders and chronic fatigue. A 2017 study in the journal Sleep Medicine revealed that high levels of stress are associated with an increased risk of insomnia and sleep fragmentation. This means that even if we do manage to sleep, the quality of our rest may be compromised, leaving us feeling tired and drained.

Iron deficiency

Iron plays an important role in transporting oxygen throughout our body. When we’re low on iron, our body can’t produce enough haemoglobin, which means our muscles and tissues don't get the oxygen they need, leading to fatigue and weakness. Iron deficiency anaemia is more common among women and can be a significant cause of persistent tiredness. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that improving iron levels in women with iron deficiency anaemia significantly improved their energy levels and reduced feelings of fatigue.

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Bacterial and viral infection

Sometimes, our sleepiness might be due to our body fighting an infection. Certain bacterial infections can cause prolonged fatigue even after other symptoms have resolved. Lyme disease, for instance, is a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks that can cause severe, persistent tiredness, even after the acute phase of the disease has been treated. A study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases highlighted that many patients with Lyme disease report long-term fatigue that can last months or even years after treatment.

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Our thyroid gland is important for regulating metabolism, and when it’s underactive, a condition known as hypothyroidism, it can lead to feelings of exhaustion. The thyroid produces hormones that influence almost every major system in our body, including our energy levels and sleep patterns. Symptoms commonly include fatigue, weight gain, and a general feeling of sluggishness. A simple blood test can diagnose hypothyroidism and treatment with thyroid hormone replacement therapy can help restore our energy levels.

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