Why Do I Feel So Tired All The Time? 9 Signs Your Fatigue Isn't Normal

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle
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I've witnessed many a conversation that feels like a contest over who's the most tired. Based on the sleep-deprived lives people lead and the way they boast about them, being exhausted can start to seem like the norm. This can make you miss the signs your fatigue is not normal — and there are many. "Fatigue is a normal and healthy response in anybody who has an active life," Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. tells Bustle. "It simply is your body telling you that it is time to rest. Just like hunger is your body’s way of saying that it is time to eat. The problem is when it doesn’t go away despite a good night's sleep, or even a week’s vacation, or when you don’t have enough energy to do a reasonable day’s activities."

Fatigue can have a debilitating impact on your life, even if you get so used to it you don't even notice it. So, it's vital to address its causes, even if it doesn't indicate any underlying health problem. And sometimes it does — which makes it even more crucial to pay attention to.

If you notice any of these signs, you should talk to your doctor about your fatigue to figure out if it's more than fatigue after all.

1You're Exhausted All Day

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If this is your only symptom, the fatigue is probably fixable. "Most often this comes from poor nutrition, excess sugar, and not getting enough sleep," says Teitelbaum. "Until 135 years ago, when light bulbs were invented, the average night sleep in United States was nine hours a night. Take two weeks and cut out the things in your life that you don’t enjoy, and use that time for sleep."

2You're Getting A Full Night's Sleep

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Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation. That's a wide range, so even if your sleep looks adequate to someone else, the typical eight hours may not be enough for you. But if you're getting an amount of sleep that used to leave you refreshed and are still tired — or you don't feel less fatigued even when you sleep more — the fatigue may signify something more than lack of sleep, Sydney Ziverts, Health & Nutrition Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org, tells Bustle.

3You Have Signs Of Diabetes

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"If your exhaustion is accompanied by extreme thirst, weight loss, blurred vision, and confusion, it could be diabetes," says Ziverts. This is also super important to get checked out ASAP. Untreated diabetes can lead to eye damage, metabolic problems, heart damage, kidney damage, and nerve damage.

4You Have Aches & Pains Throughout Your Body

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This could be a case of inflammation, says Teitelbaum. Omega-3 supplements can help with the inflammation as well as the lack of energy.

5You Have Signs Of An Under-Active Thyroid

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The most tell-tale signs of an under-active thyroid are weight gain and intolerance to cold, says Teitelbaum. Thyroid tests might not pick it up, so seeing a holistic doctor might be helpful if you suspect you suffer from this.

6You're Getting Particularly Hangry

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"Hangriness" is a well-documented phenomenon, so don't think anything's wrong just because you're testy when you haven't eaten in a while. But combined with fatigue, this could point toward an exhausted adrenal stress handler gland. "This can be helped by increasing salt, decreasing sugar, having frequent small high-protein meals the day, and using an exceptional adrenal support formula called Adrenaplex," says Teitelbaum. "This will stabilize your mood and energy markedly and is much much cheaper than marriage counseling or a divorce lawyer!"

7You're Constantly Falling Asleep

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This could be a sign of sleep apnea, especially if it's combined with snoring at night, being overweight, or having high blood pressure, says Teitelbaum.

8You're Kicking At Night

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If you have a partner or roommate, ask them to observe whether you're kicking around at night. If you don't have one, videotape yourself. Restless leg syndrome usually indicates a magnesium and iron deficiency, so Teitelbaum recommends taking magnesium and having a protein snack at bedtime.

9You're Unhappy

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"If you're doing things you really don’t enjoy, your body will start shutting down your energy until you change directions," says Teitelbaum. So, fatigue could be a sign of burnout or even depression. Cutting back on work or adding more fun to your life may be sufficient, but if you're feeling depressed, consider talking to a therapist.

The bottom line is: don't resign yourself to a lifetime of exhaustion. Constant fatigue is not inevitable, and whatever the cause is, there's a solution.