Being sleepy or tired all the time may be indicators of medical problems

“Sleep seems to be a canary in the coal mine, where it’s sensitive to all these things going on in your body. So, when it starts changing, you want to ask, ‘Well, what’s going on?'”

  • There is a difference among Sleepiness, Fatigue, and Tiredness
  • Sleep should always be prioritized
  • These problems should be addressed immediately

Michael Grandner, director of the University of Arizona’s Sleep & Health Research Program in Tucson, says that feeling tired all the time may be due to hidden medical reasons.

Grandner says that changes in sleep are usually indicative of health problems.

“Sleep seems to be a canary in the coal mine, where it’s sensitive to all these things going on in your body. So, when it starts changing, you want to ask, ‘Well, what’s going on?'”

People usually use the terms ‘Fatigue’, ‘Sleepiness’, and ‘Tiredness’ interchangeably but they are actually different. It is important to be able to distinguish them from each other.

According to ScienceAlert, Fatigue is when you are unable to do something because you are not capable enough mentally or physically.

Sleepiness is when a person finds it hard to stay awake because their body craves sleep, even when they have consumed caffeine.

Tiredness is between sleepiness and fatigue when a person is still just able to do the things that they need to do.

A survey done in 2014 by National Sleep Foundation found that 45% of adults report that they haven’t had adequate sleep the week before. 20% of those respondents say that they have been oversleeping.

A survey done in 2017 also report that 76% of people feel tired when they get to work.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans do not get the recommended amount of sleeping hours, which is 7 hours and above.

Grandner says that sleeping problems should be addressed immediately. “If you’re routinely getting five or six hours of sleep and you’re feeling tired, that’s an easy thing to check off the list in terms of figuring out what the problem is.”

The risks of Type 2 diabetes, car accidents, cardiovascular diseases can increase significantly by sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep also increases the risk of depression, plus, it can also affect moods and relationships.

Nathaniel Watson, director of the Harborview Sleep Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, also emphasizes the importance of sleep.

“There is no substitute for sleep,”

Watson urges people to avoid overestimating the time of the sleep they get, as most people do not just use the bed to sleep.

There is also a transitional state called the sleep inertia, where the first 15 minutes after waking is so difficult because the body still wants to go to sleep. On the other hand, it can help people fall back asleep easily after waking up in the middle of the night.

People can also experience sleepiness even after a good sleep, mainly due to stress which can make them sleepy throughout the afternoon.

There are also many studies that suggest older people find it harder to fall asleep and wake up more often compared to younger individuals.

But this isn’t entirely true, as Grandner along with other researchers have concluded that after a peak in adulthood, sleep and tiredness decreased with age.

Sleepiness isn’t directly correlated with aging.

“Aging is associated with sleep that is a little shallower and a little more broken up, but not less satisfying,”

“If you’re an older person and you’re really unhappy with your sleep, that’s actually an issue,” Grandner added.

People suffering from tiredness can always get themselves checked out at primary clinics for fatigue or tiredness, including depression, autoimmune diseases, vitamin levels, and thyroid issues.

Tiredness can also be a good indicator that one is suffering from iron deficiency, fibromyalgia, celiac disease, encephalitis, etc.

Not all doctors and specialists are well trained or informed when it comes to sleep medicine, so consultations can end up being disappointing.

Grandner says that sleep will always be important.

“If you’re feeling sleepy and it’s interfering with your life, you shouldn’t just think this is normal kind of a thing. We need to realize that if we prioritize sleep, we become the best version of ourselves.”

Written by Charles Teves

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