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Restore Energy

Tired All the Time? 15 Causes of a Lack of Energy

Written by Leon Ho
Founder & CEO of Lifehack
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Ever find yourself feeling like a deflated balloon, dragging your feet through the day? Or maybe you’re simply staring blankly at your computer screen, waiting for words to materialize, only to realize your mind’s as empty as a forgotten coffee cup? If these images resonate, you’re far from alone.

A startling 4.8 out of every 10 U.S. workers admit to feeling the weight of tiredness while they’re on the clock. What’s more, by the time the day’s grind ends, that number jumps to nearly 7 out of 10, as stated by a SleepFoundation.org survey.[1]

But here’s the catch – it’s not just about the heaviness in your bones or that burning urge to yawn. This depletion spreads its claws even deeper.

Beyond the physical fatigue is the shadow of “mental tiredness,” an oft-overlooked contender that’s as real as the exhaustion we feel after a long run. Everyone, at some point, gets touched by it. Its reasons vary, and its hold, formidable.

This article aims to unravel the various culprits of your constant tiredness, allowing you to confront them head-on and reclaim your vitality. Let’s dive in.

Psychological Causes of Lack of Energy

If you’re feeling perpetually zapped of vigor and zest, there’s a good chance your mind’s playing a role. Indeed, the psychological game is powerful, and it’s often the hidden puppeteer behind your never-ending weariness.

1. Stress: The Silent Battery Drainer

Often, we brush stress under the rug, dismissing it as just another part of life. But stop for a moment and consider: Stress isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a relentless energy vampire.

What ignites this internal firestorm? Well, there’s a list:

  • The pressure cooker environment of a high-demand job? Check this out.
  • The emotional tornado of a divorce.
  • The looming cloud of debt.
  • Or even the emotional whirlwinds like anxiety, depression, and unnameable fears.

All these and more cast the same shadow: a deep, pervasive fatigue that feels like an anchor tied to your feet. And when you’re tangled up in this web, things like focusing and getting a good night’s sleep become distant dreams. Why? Because stress doesn’t just tire your mind; it’s a whole-body experience.

Picture this: Every time stress lands a punch, your body suits up, gearing for battle. Hormones flood in, preparing you for either a showdown or a rapid exit — the age-old ‘fight or flight’ reaction. You’ve felt it. Racing heart, quick breaths, tense muscles, and a sheen of sweat.

Now, if it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon affair, you’ll bounce back, ready for the next round. But here’s the rub: Continuous, never-ending stress? That’s a whole different ball game. This chronic stress keeps cortisol, the stress hormone, on a loop. And this uninvited guest? It doesn’t just crash on your couch; it takes a toll on your health.[2]

2. Negative Emotions: The Unseen Power Drainers

It’s easy to think that feelings are just… feelings. A bad mood here, a twinge of envy there. But what if I told you these emotions are more than fleeting moments? That they can pull the plug on your energy, both mentally and physically?

Consider depression. We might see it as prolonged sadness or a blue period, but it’s more like an anchor weighing down on your daily life, draining your spark. Curious about the hows and whys? Dive deeper with Does Depression Make You Tired And How?


Anxiety? It’s not just a simple worry. It’s a restless beast, constantly making you jump at shadows, leaving you spent at the end of the day. To understand this more, check out Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

Your emotions aren’t just abstract thoughts floating around. They’re powerful forces, and when left unchecked, they can leave your tanks running on empty.

3. Lack of Motivation: When The Spark Just Isn’t There

Ever tried to run a car without gas? That’s what life can feel like when motivation is missing. It’s not about being lazy or not caring. Often, it’s deeper, more complex.

Some drag their feet because of mental monsters like anxiety or depression. They’re like invisible chains holding them back. Others are drifting because they’re missing a map—a clear purpose that gives life color and direction. This sense of aimlessness is more exhausting than any physical marathon.

There’s a plethora of reasons that can yank the rug of motivation right out from under you:

  • The haze of uncertainty, where every path seems unclear.
  • The crushing weight of grief, a sorrow so deep it blurs the future.
  • The quiet voice of low self-esteem, constantly questioning your worth.
  • The void of not having a target to shoot for, like an archer without a bullseye.
  • Or the misfit goals – ones too mountainous to climb or too puny to inspire.

In essence, when your inner drive’s on the fritz, it’s more than just a “phase.” It’s a powerful drain on your energy, demanding attention.

Life choices, from the minuscule to the monumental, aren’t just decisions. They’re energy influencers.

How we sculpt our day-to-day, knowingly or unknowingly, plays a pivotal role in how juiced up or drained we feel.

4. Sleep Issues: The Balancing Act

Ever tried pouring from an empty pitcher? That’s akin to navigating life with botched sleep habits.

The formula is simple: quality sleep equals quality energy. Veer off that path and welcome a parade of hitches.

Research from the big brains at the National Institute of Health lays it out clear:[3]

  • Thought processes wander and stumble.
  • Focus? More like ‘lack-of-focus’.
  • Memories tend to play hide and seek.
  • Decision-making becomes a risky gamble.
  • And, the usually steady emotional seesaw? It goes haywire.

When you mess with the sleep clock, either by oversleeping or falling short with insufficient shut-eye, you get a crippling lack of energy.


5. Irregular Work Schedule: When the Clock Never Stops

Modern work is not just about the 9-to-5 anymore. Many folks are clocking in beyond the typical hours, be it through night shifts or marathons of overtime. Sound familiar? Then you might be cashing checks on borrowed energy, and the cost could be steeper than you think.

See, it’s not just about feeling groggy. The clock you’re trying to beat? It’s built into you. When you mess with regular work hours, you’re essentially jumbling your body’s internal rhythm, or as the scientists phrase it: causing “internal clock confusion”. Research points it out clear as day.[4]

The bill for burning both ends of the candle or flip-flopping between night and day jobs can look like this:[5]

  • Sleep? More like staying up counting sheep.
  • Rollercoaster-like mood shifts.
  • A cloudy, muddled brain.
  • Hunger that can’t stick to a schedule.
  • A dive in the desire department.
  • And a defense system that’s down more than it’s up.

If these symptoms resonate, don’t just brush them aside. Your body’s waving a red flag. It might be time to revisit how you work.

And for a deeper dive, check out 6 Signs You’re Suffering From Shift Work Disorder to gauge if it’s time to hit the brakes and steer in a healthier direction.


6. Burnout: When the Fire Within Fizzles Out

I’ve been there. On the edge, teetering precariously, caught in the clutches of burnout. It sneaked up on me like a silent predator. One day, I realized I was tossing and turning instead of sleeping, battling a storm of stress that scattered my focus. Moods? They swung wildly. Even the joy of family time felt like a chore.

Sound eerily familiar? Maybe you’re treading on that thin ice too, inching closer to the burnout brink. Are you relentlessly driving yourself, sidelining rest, and juggling a life that’s out of sync?

Here’s the catch: overdrive can backfire. If you’re lighting your life from both ends, it’s time to heed the warning signs:(Mayo Clinic: Job burnout: How to spot it and take action))

  • You’re not just tired. You’re perpetually drained.
  • Aches? Yep, in both head and muscle.
  • Short fuse, with frustration and anger at the drop of a hat.
  • The fire of motivation? Doused.
  • Feeling shackled, like there’s no escape.

If any of this strikes a chord, it’s time for a check-in. Take a look at our guide on How to Spot the Signs of Burnout and Overcome It Fast. Get ahead of burnout before it gets ahead of you.

7. Lack of Movement: The Sneaky Energy Thief

It’s an odd twist. In an age of speed, convenience, and endless innovation, many of us are… well, barely moving.

Think about it. Before, your day might’ve included a brisk walk to work or a casual stroll around the office. Today? For some, the trek between the bedroom and the living room seems to sum it up.


Remote work, while a savior for many businesses during the coronavirus chaos, presented a new challenge: endless hours in makeshift home offices. Often, we’re hunched over laptops on kitchen tables or slouched on sofas. Not ideal, right?

But there’s a toll for being stationary. When your chair becomes your new best friend, there are consequences:[6]

  • Legs that forget their strength.
  • An achy back, craving movement.
  • Shoulders and neck screaming for a stretch.
  • The slow shift of posture.
  • Pounds that quietly creep in.
  • And a mind with anxiety and gloom.

Think you’re immune to the risks of a sedentary life? This may change your mind: Why Sitting Is Killing You.

8. Food: More Than Just Calories

When you think about diets, where does your mind wander? Probably to those flashy headlines about dropping pounds, getting summer-ready, or trying out the latest fad. But how often do we consider food as our personal battery charger?

See, what we munch on is not just about keeping our belly full or chasing after an ideal weight. It’s our body’s fuel. And when you fill up on junk? Well, it’s like putting sand in your car’s gas tank.


Missing out on the core nutrients, like essential vitamins and minerals, is like expecting a flashlight to work without batteries. It’s a surefire way to dim your personal energy. And here’s the stark reality: your diet choices can either propel you forward or, sadly, pull you into a spiral of health issues:[7]

  • The overwhelming weight of constant fatigue.
  • The unpredictable patterns of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • The slow decay of your pearly whites.
  • Blood pressure that’s climbing mountains.
  • The lurking dangers of heart troubles and strokes.
  • Increased risk of getting Type-2 diabetes.
  • Brittle bones and the threat of osteoporosis.
  • And the shadowed valleys of depression.

Don’t just eat to fill up. Eat to fuel up. If you want energy that lasts, it starts with what’s on your fork.

9. The Triple Threat: Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs

It’s Saturday evening. You might pour yourself a glass of wine. Maybe you light up a cigarette for relaxation, or you could be tempted to try something stronger. These moments offer a temporary escape, but what’s the actual cost?

Having that occasional sip of red wine might not sound alarms, but drown in drinks frequently, and your body starts to pay the tab.


Overindulgence in alcohol takes a toll: from liver issues to certain types of cancers, it’s an unwelcome gamble with your health.[8]

And then there’s smoking. We’ve been bombarded with enough ads and awareness campaigns to know its deadly dance.

Still, a reminder can’t hurt: smoking accelerates the wrinkles on your face, it’s a ticket to several severe health conditions from gum disease to heart problems.[9]

But perhaps you think recreational drugs are the “fun” escape? Well, this escape route is littered with traps. While they might promise a fleeting high, they’re not without long-term lows.

Beyond the physical harm, they can also play treacherous games with your mind. It’s not just hearsay; research backs it up. Prolonged drug use can intertwine with mental health issues, making it hard to separate one from the other.[10]

Opting for these short-term pleasures might end up robbing the long-term vitality from your life.

Medical Conditions

Sometimes it’s not just your busy lifestyle or your diet. It might actually be your body trying to send you a message.

10. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS): Beyond Just “Being Tired”

Ever felt exhausted, taken a nap, and still woke up exhausted? Now, imagine that feeling stretching on for months. That’s CFS.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like your energy tank has a leak and no matter how much you try to refill, it never gets full. And simple tasks or even thinking hard can make you feel like you’ve run a marathon, mentally and physically.[11]


But fatigue is just the tip of the iceberg. People with CFS are also grappling with:

  • A mind that feels foggy, making memory and focus a chore.
  • A spinning sensation, giving rise to dizziness.
  • Nights where sleep feels elusive, as if it’s a puzzle they can’t solve.

CFS is not just about “feeling tired.” It’s an overarching cloud that affects multiple facets of life.

11. Chronic Inflammation: The Silent Alarm Bell

Imagine your body’s defense system as a fire alarm. It rings loud and clear when there’s smoke or fire. That’s inflammation for you: a signal that there’s some unwelcome visitor – be it an injury or a germ. It’s your body’s superhero mode, rushing blood and healing agents to where it’s needed.

But, what happens when that alarm doesn’t turn off? When instead of being a short alert, it becomes a constant blaring horn?

If inflammation is our body’s flash siren, chronic inflammation is like a glitchy alarm that refuses to switch off. And that glitch isn’t harmless. Instead of just alerting you for a few hours or days, it keeps going for weeks or even months.[12]

And while it’s trying to help, it can cause some unexpected issues:

  • Stomach woes, making you clutch your abdomen in pain.
  • Random fevers that come out of the blue.
  • Annoying sores popping up in your mouth.
  • Pesky rashes that don’t know when to quit.
  • A chest pain that makes you wonder, “Did I pull a muscle?”
  • And the draining, unending feeling of fatigue.

This alarm that doesn’t quit can wear you down.

12. Sleep Apnea: The Night Time Struggle

Sleep should be peaceful, but for people with sleep apnea, it’s like trying to sleep on a roller coaster.

Sleep apnea is where the simple act of breathing turns into a nightly drama – the breath stops and starts, again and again, throughout the night.[13] It’s like trying to watch a movie that keeps buffering. Annoying, right? But it’s more than just annoying; it’s harmful.

Imagine waking up feeling like you haven’t even slept. This ailment doesn’t just keep you from a good night’s rest. The ripple effects are even broader:

  • Feeling depressed constantly
  • Constant drowsiness
  • Heart disease
  • Headaches

People with sleep apnea aren’t just snoring loudly; they’re battling every night.

13. Thyroid Disease: When the Manager of Energy Is Sick

Thyroid is essentially the control center for energy in your body. When it’s not functioning like it’s supposed to be, things get wobbly:[14]


It’s like your body’s accelerator pedal is stuck. The engine runs too hot and too fast. Beyond just feeling tired, your heart races and anxiety creeps in.


Think of it as driving with the handbrake on. You’re always fatigued, you might pack on a few extra pounds, and even the chill of a cool breeze becomes hard to bear.

Why does this happen? While it’s related to malfunction of the immune system, genetics also plays its cards here.[15]

If you’re wondering whether your thyroid is playing tricks on you, give this a read: 7 Signs of a Thyroid Problem That You Should Not Ignore.

14. Anemia: Not Just Feeling a Bit Pale

Picture your body as a bustling city. The roads, highways, and small alleys are your bloodstream, and the cars are your red blood cells. Now, imagine if there were suddenly fewer cars available to transport people or goods. Traffic might flow smoother, but nothing gets delivered. This, in a nutshell, is anemia.[16]

What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re always feeling like you’ve just run a marathon when you’ve only climbed a flight of stairs, or if you look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I’m looking a bit pale today,” then there’s a chance you’re dealing with anemia.

The symptoms? They’re not just “I’m tired.” They can range from your skin looking like it missed a few days of sunlight to your heart feeling like it’s playing a high-speed drum solo when you’re just trying to catch your breath.

But anemia isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. There’s a whole wardrobe of types, each with its own backstory. It might just pop by for a brief visit or decide to overstay its welcome, with effects that can feel like a light drizzle to a storm.

Got a hunch? A Blood Cell Count (CBC) test is the detective you need. Also, take a peek at this list: Signs You Might Lack Iron (And 9 Iron-Rich Foods for Your Diet).

15. Diebes: The Silent Drainer

Imagine your body as a finely-tuned car engine. The fuel it runs on? Sugar in your bloodstream. But what happens when there’s either too much sugar or not enough machinery (insulin) to process it? That’s the crux of diabetes — a hitch in the system where the fuel regulator is out of whack.

Think of insulin as the efficient traffic cop that directs sugar traffic to different parts of the town, your body. But when there’s a shortage of these traffic cops or if they’re not doing their job well, traffic jams — or high blood sugar levels — occur. Over time, these jams can erode the infrastructure: your nerves, blood vessels, and so much more. Shockingly, by 2014, nearly one in every 12 adults had been caught in this gridlock.[17]

What does it feel like living in this traffic jam? Well, it’s a bit like being lost in a desert.

You’re constantly thirsty, you don’t have the usual pep in your step, and every little scrape and scratch takes forever to heal.[18]

Your vision gets fuzzy, like you’re looking through a foggy windshield, and it feels like you’re making pit stops (to the bathroom) way too often.

While the root causes for this gridlock can vary, the good news is that with the right interventions and treatments, the traffic can be managed. But it’s essential to know the signs and seek help before the jams get out of hand.

Your Energy, Your Choice

Every machine needs the right care and fuel to run smoothly — and you’re no different.

Whether it’s lifestyle choices or underlying medical conditions, there’s a bunch of reasons you might be feeling less sparky than usual. But on this journey, you’re not just a passenger, you’re the driver.

Being informed is the first step. Recognizing what’s dragging down your energy is the second. And taking action? Well, that’s the game-changer.

Whether it’s adjusting your diet, quitting smoking, or seeing a professional, you’re never alone on this journey. There are guides ready to help; all you’ve got to do is seek it.


Don't have time for the full article? Read this.

Tired All the Time? 15 Causes of a Lack of Energy

Lifestyle Choices Matter: Your daily habits, like exercise, diet, and substance use, significantly impact your energy levels.

Sedentary Living Drains Energy: Extended periods of sitting and lack of movement can lead to multiple health issues, from back problems to mental health concerns.

Diet Affects Energy Directly: Not getting essential nutrients can lower your energy and lead to serious health problems.– Beware of Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs: Excessive and prolonged use can severely harm both your physical and mental health.

Medical Conditions Can Reduce Energy: Issues like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, inflammation, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, anemia, and diabetes might be underlying reasons for your tiredness.– Seek Professional Help: If you suspect a medical issue or if lifestyle changes aren’t helping, see a doctor.

Awareness and Action: Being informed about what affects your energy levels is the first step. Taking action to address these factors is the game-changer.


[1]SleepFoundation: Sleep Statistics
[2]American Psychological Association: Stress won’t go away? Maybe you are suffering from chronic stress
[3]National Institute of Health: Why Is Sleep Important?
[4]University of Missouri-Columbia: Researchers identify how night-shift work causes internal clock confusion
[5]Rehabil Nurs.: Negative Impacts of Shiftwork and Long Work Hours
[6]Mayo Clinic: What are the risks of sitting too much?
[7]SA Health: The Risks Of Poor Nutrition
[8]Centers for Disease Control and PRevention: Alcohol Use and Your Health
[9]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking
[10]Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness
[11]Mayo Clinic: Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
[12]Oncotarget.: Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs
[13]Mayo Clinic: Sleep Apnea
[14]Cleveland CLinic: Thyroid Disease
[15]NHS: Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
[16]National Institute of Health: What is Anemia
[17]World Health Organization: Diabetes
[18]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Diabetes Symptoms
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