Tiredness or fatigue is one of the most common health complaints that GPs see. According to the London College of Psychiatrists, one in five people at any given time feel unusually tired, even if they have been getting enough quality sleep. While tiredness can be the result of some physical medical conditions, it is also often the case that certain lifestyle choices or psychological causes are the underlying issue.

Physical causes

There are lots of health conditions that can be responsible for making you feel tired. One of the most common causes is iron deficiency anaemia which, according to the NHS, affects around 1 in 20 men and postmenopausal women and even more women who still have their periods. Pregnant women and women with heavy periods are particularly prone

Coeliac disease, a condition where your body reacts badly to gluten, is another possible medical cause of fatigue. If your feelings of tiredness are accompanied by symptoms of diarrhoea, anaemia and weight loss, see your GP for a blood test to determine if you have the condition.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a severe and debilitating tiredness that continues for at least six months. This condition is also often accompanied by symptoms of a sore throat, muscle pain and headaches.

Sleep apnoea is another condition that causes fatigue, as the narrowing of the throat during sleep regularly interrupts your breathing. Aside from causing bad snoring, the difficulty breathing may also mean that you wake often in the night and feel tired the next day.

An underactive thyroid is another possible medical cause of fatigue. This mean you have too little thyroid hormone in your body, resulting in feelings of tiredness, muscle pain and weight gain. This can be diagnosed by a blood test.

Feeling tired is also one of the main symptoms of diabetes. Other symptoms of this long-term condition include feeling very thirsty, going to the toilet a lot and weight loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms in conjunction with your fatigue it is recommended that you make an appointment with your GP.

Psychological causes

Problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are leading causes of fatigue. This is often linked to worries and stresses making it difficult to sleep at night, resulting in constant low energy levels in the day. Similarly, a stressful event or even just the worries and stresses of day to day life can leave you feeling drained.

Lifestyle causes

It is also common for certain lifestyle factors such as a bad diet or drinking too much alcohol to have an effect on your energy levels. Drinking alcohol can make you wake in the night and cause a drop in energy levels, while eating unhealthily can cause you to become overweight and fatigued.

Self-help tips

The NHS recommend several key ways that you can improve your lifestyle habits to reduce tiredness and boost energy levels.

Drinking less alcohol and caffeine, especially late in the evening will result in you getting a better night’s sleep and having more energy. According to NHS guidelines, you shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week. Instead, drinking more water will give you a boost in energy, especially as mild dehydration can also be a cause of tiredness.

Eating a healthy balanced diet and eating regular meals and healthy snacks may give you needed boosts of energy during the day. If your body is carrying excess weight this can also put an extra strain on your heart, causing you to become fatigued more easily. By eating a healthy balanced diet, you will lose weight and feel much more energetic.

Regular exercise not only contributes towards weight loss and a healthier lifestyle, but give you an energy and mood boost. These benefits will only increase with the more exercise that you do, though if you are a complete beginner the NHS recommend starting small and building up gradually.