Last updated: April 10, 2017
For years I suffered from TATT and had no idea why.
TATT is an acronym for Tired All The Time. Yes, being chronically fatigued is common enough that there is a name for it.
There are many reasons that you may feel constantly tired or just a creeping fatigue that no matter how much sleep you get, you just can’t ever feel rested.
Some of the reasons for chronic fatigue are physical, as mine was. But, the most common reasons for feeling Tired All The Time are mental.
In my case, I had sleep apnea and didn’t realize just how much sleep I was missing every night until I did a sleep study.
If you are always tired or feeling fatigued, you can do something to change that. To find out what is causing you to feel tired, you have to go through a process of elimination to find the root of your sleeplessness.
Table of Contents
What causes chronic fatigue
You may not understand your fatigue since it seems like you are sleeping through the night with no interruptions. What could cause you to feel like you are getting enough sleep but still feel tired?
Physical causes for feeling Tired All The Time
The most common physical reason for feeling constantly tired is from sleep apnea.As I said, it is the reason that I couldn’t shake that feeling of fatigue and sleepiness.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your breathing to pause. That pause could last a second or several seconds and generally lasts throughout the night.
It’s cause by an obstruction that blocks your airways when you sleep. Usually it sounds like very deep snoring with bursts of choking sounds. Most times people realize they have apnea because their partner complains that their snoring sounds like an animal. If you sleep alone you may want to record yourself while sleeping so you can see you show signs of sleep apnea.
It causes you to never fall into a deep sleep as your body is frequently waking you up slightly to kick start your breathing. You won’t remember being awoken since you aren’t fully awake, so it seems like you are sleeping through the night.
A lack of oxygen getting into your blood caused by sleep apnea will cause you to feel tired all the time. Besides the negative effects towards your work, relationships and quality of life, there are health risks associated with sleep apnea.
Your risk of cardiac disease, diabetes and other disorders and diseases are all elevated with sleep apnea.
A sleep study will be necessary to determine what kind of sleep apnea you have and what the best treatment is.
Your thyroid produces hormones essential to your body regulating itself. Digestive function, muscle control, brain development and other important functions depend on your thyroid.
When your thyroid is underactive, it can throw many of your body functions out of whack. That in turn leads to issues such as sleep disorders and depression.
An underactive thyroid is called hypothyroidism and causes people to crave sleep constantly. They sleep for long periods but never seem to feel refreshed.
Often, hypothyroidism is mistaken for depression as the symptoms are often the same.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism usually are:
- Mental sluggishness
- Increased sleepiness
- Emotional instability
- Inability to focus and pay attention
Sounds a lot like depression, doesn’t it? If you exhibit any of those symptoms, before you go to a psychiatrist, you should see your general practitioner. They will give you a blood test to see what your hormone levels are.
If, in fact, you do have hypothyroidism, you will need to take some hormone therapy medication. You will likely be prescribed levothryoxine, a hormone replacement. You will probably start seeing yourself with more energy and your sleep improve in about a week.
In 6 to 8 weeks you will do another blood test to see what your hormone levels are. You may have to up the dosage, lower the dosage, change the medication or even consider taking you off of the hormone medication altogether.
If you had a serious illness that caused your hypothyroidism, then you may not need a long treatment. If it came to you due to age, then your treatment may be a lifetime commitment.
Once your thyroid is back to normal functioning levels, your mood and sleep will be back on track. Your sleep and quality of life will have you feeling brand new!
Diabetes can definitely bring on insomnia. Which is a bit different than feeling like you are sleeping enough but still feeling tired all the time.
Your sleep is disturbed by the symptoms of diabetes. High blood sugar levels from diabetes can cause you to urinate frequently. You might be getting up several times a night to go to the bathroom. This will mean you won’t feel rested the next day.
Alternatively, your body also gets dehydrated easily when you have diabetes and you may find yourself waking up to get some water throughout the night.
High blood sugar can also make you feel generally uncomfortable making it difficult to stay asleep. Sensations of feeling too warm or restless from high blood sugar are subtle but can be enough to leave you feeling tired even though you feel like you got enough sleep.
Lifestyle causes of fatigue
Aside from physical problems that need to be addressed medically, there are lifestyle changes that can be done to start getting some restful sleep.
Drinking too much alcohol
People that have trouble falling asleep usually turn to alcohol to help them get to sleep faster.
Drinking alcohol before bed might do wonders for helping you become drowsy and fall asleep. What it also does, however, is to disrupt your sleep during the night.
Alcohol keeps you from ever getting into a deep sleep. You may be asleep the whole night, but you are usually in the REM cycle of sleep. When you wake up you feel drowsy.
Alcohol is also a muscle relaxer. If you find that you snore very loudly when you are drinking it is no coincidence. Your tongue and throat tissues vibrate from their loosened state causing your snoring to get loud. It also inhibits your ability to get the necessary oxygen into your blood.
The result of too much alcohol?
The next day you are drowsy and your head is fuzzy. That’s from a combination dehydration caused by the alcohol and from the lack of deep, restful sleep.
Not drinking enough water
Dehydration can make your body achy and uncomfortable. If you don’t drink enough water during the day then come night, your body starts to feel the effects.
Your blood volume drops when you haven’t had enough water. Forcing your heart to work harder to get oxygen to your brain. Not enough oxygen to your brain can keep you from falling deeply asleep.
Make sure you drink the necessary amount of water during the day and resist the temptation to catch up before bed. Then you will end up making trips to the bathroom when you should be in bed.
Not enough exercise
Doing some form of physical activity can greatly improve your sleep. A daily walk or yoga will help relieve stress, relax your muscles and release endorphins into your brain.
By doing some light to moderate exercise during the day you will fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly at night.
Don’t workout just before bed, though, as the extra stimulation will cause you to lie awake longer trying to fall asleep.
A high intensity workout during the day may not hurt your sleep but it won’t necessarily help you either. It was widely thought that a tough workout would make you tired enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.
We now know that being overtired physically doesn’t help you sleep any better. Feeling sleepy and being tired are actually two different things.
Stick to a moderate workout and you will achieve a mind body balance that will leave you healthier and able to sleep better.
Eating spicy foods
As tempting as it may be to eat that taco loaded with jalapeno, eating spicy foods, particularly at dinner, can lead to heartburn. Heartburn will cause you feel uncomfortable and lead to a restless night of sleep.
Even if you don’t get heartburn or discomfort from eating spicy foods, your endorphins are usually elevated after eating chili peppers. After all, why would we eat spicy food if we didn’t get a buzz out of it?
Those endorphins which make you feel a tingle throughout your body also keep your brain active and prevents it from releasing melatonin to help you stay asleep.
Too much caffeine
This one is so obvious it almost isn’t worth mentioning.
Drinking too much coffee can disrupt your sleep. If you drink it too close to bedtime it will keep you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
Even if you don’t drink it right before bed, if you drink it too much during the day, it can linger and keep you from sleeping well.
It’s also a diuretic which means it will make you go to the bathroom often. You may be able to fall asleep after drinking coffee, but it will still get you up at night for a bathroom run.
Dark chocolate is also a no-no at night since it contains high amount of caffeine.
Let’s recap with some tips on lifestyle changes to improve your sleep:
- Stay away from caffeine at night. Limit your coffee during the day and avoid dark chocolate before bed.
- Avoid spicy foods at dinner. Try to eat any chili peppers or anything spicy at lunch.
- Do some light to moderate exercise, like a light jog, yoga or a long walk, daily. Avoid a strenuous workout particularly late in the afternoon or before bed.
- Stay hydrated during the day. Drink plenty of water since you won’t be drinking at night to avoid dehydration. Don’t drink too much before bed, though.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Even having a glass of wine just before bed can keep you from sleeping deeply
How you can overcome being Tired All The Time
If the cause of your fatigue is from lifestyle then that is not too difficult to fix. Try to identify an area in your life where you might have some bad habits that contribute to your poor sleep.
Maybe something in the list I just provided sparked a thought. Hopefully you see an item there that you realize now might be keeping you from actually sleeping deeply and that is why you are always tired even though it seems like you sleep enough.
If you see several things, try to make small changes at first. Eliminate one of your habits and see what happens. If it doesn’t work to help you feel more rested then try another. Taking it one item at a time will help you see which lifestyle change actually worked. If you switch up your lifestyle in many ways, it will be harder to know which thing actually worked. Not to mention that it will be a bit of a dramatic change in your life which may cause some stress.
If after trying some changes in your lifestyle with no results, it’s time to see a doctor.
A blood test might get right to the root of the problem. If indications are that there is a physical problem, then some medication or therapy should get you back on track.
If a medical doctor can’t help you, then you may need to see a psychiatrist. It may be your mental health that has caused your fatigue. Depression, stress and anxiety can all lead to feeling of being Tired All The Time.
Final Thoughts on TATT and Chronic Fatigue
Lack of sleep can lead to health problems and depression which leads to chronic fatigue which leads to a further lack of sleep. It’s a Catch-22 that can see your health and well being spiral downwards. Many other problems in your life will get caught up in this spiral.
It’s a hard cycle to break out of, but once you get to the root of the problem and can solve it, your life will dramatically improve.
Don’t just assume you are a low energy type of person and allow that to hold you back. You may find a new lease on life with the extra energy and positive attitude that comes with getting proper rest.