why am i always tired
Feeling constantly exhausted? Here's what you can do about it. Source: Michael Loccisano/AFP

“Why am I always tired?” 

If you’re a student, you’ve surely asked yourself this question more than once. It’s no secret that university life can be tough: you’re constantly ridden with assignments, weekly lectures, upcoming exams and practicals. That’s not counting the social aspects of university, as well. 

Combined, it’s a hectic schedule all around — which is enough to exhaust anyone. A survey found that in 2020, the frequency of depression, anxiety and stress among university students reached 75%, 88.4% and 84.4%  respectively. This contributed to high levels of emotional stress among students: more than 50% reported feeling mentally and physically exhausted between May and September 2021. 

In this, the question “Why am I always tired?” is a perfectly understandable concern — making finding a solution to address this fatigue all the more pressing. 

Fortunately, there are many strategies students can consider in this regard that will help to alleviate the constant feeling of exhaustion and make waking up each day a little easier. Medical doctor Pranav Gajria outlines these below:

Why am I always tired? 3 ways to fix your fatigue

Cut down on your caffeine intake 

For many students, coffee is a godsend — and it all boils down to its high dosage of caffeine. This can boosting your energy levels and wake you up, especially for early morning lectures and pulling all-nighters when you have an assignment due. 

Having too much coffee, however, makes us too dependent on it. In fact, it was found that 92% of college students in the US consumed caffeine in any form on a daily basis, with coffee being the main source of intake.

It’s always good to drink in moderation — coffee, included. “Restrict yourself to 200mg and no caffeine two hours before bed,” says Dr. Gajria. “You can take it a step further and try to substitute caffeine for water whenever possible. If you can implement this, you’ll notice the difference immediately.”

why am i always tired

High-intensity exercise can help regulate your energy levels. Source: Nic Antaya/AFP

Start exercising more

If you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why am I always tired?” it might boil down to the amount of exercise you’re getting. Newsflash: if you’re feeling tired, you should probably start to exercise more. 

At the surface level, this can sound counterproductive. Exercise, especially high intensity sessions, is extremely tiring and requires large amounts of effort. This doesn’t sound fun, especially if you’re already feeling tired from the day. 

However, research shows that exercise boosts your cardiovascular health and overall fitness, which can improve your body’s ability to circulate oxygen. Over time, this will help make you less tired.

Short on time? Dr. Gajria advises to work out for just 30 minutes a day. “Make it a habit to train for just 30 minutes every single day,” he writes. “You can start with simple stretches and slowly transition to high-intensity exercise. Monitor your activity, target 10,000 steps and set a goal to burn 500 calories. Your energy levels will never be the same.”

Regulate your hours of sleep

This is perhaps the most important step that you have to take. You often feel tired because your body hasn’t gotten the amount of sleep it needs to function at optimal levels. While this is inconvenient, a lack of sleep can be extremely detrimental to both your overall physical health as well as academic performance. 

For example, sleep scientist Matt Walker points out the correlation between sleep and memory. “What we’ve discovered over the past 10 or so years is that you need sleep after learning to essentially hit the save button on those new memories so that you don’t forget,” he explains in a TED Talk

“But recently, we discovered that you also need sleep before learning to actually prepare your brain, almost like a dry sponge ready to initially soak up new information. And without sleep, the memory circuits of the brain essentially become waterlogged, as it were, and you can’t absorb new memories.”

To improve your sleep schedule, Dr. Gajria says that you should start by tracking how many hours of sleep you get per night. 

“If it’s less than seven hours, you need to make some changes,” he says. “Try to sleep at the same time every night and keep your phone away one hour before bed. Replace your screen time with activities like reading, meditation and journalling.”