Most adults will tell you that daily life is a lot of work. Unfortunately, being tired feels like part of adulthood, and a large majority of us are getting by on too little sleep and too much busyness. 

We include tiredness on our list of emotions because it is first and foremost a reality many of us face each day. It has a significant impact on how we feel both physically and emotionally. In addition, fatigue can become a chronic state that influences how we react in daily life.

What It Means When We Feel Tired


Feeling tired or fatigued can have many underlying causes. It can also present in many different ways, from how productive we are at work to how quick we are to get angry over everyday life frustrations.

There is no one simple answer to why we feel tired, but there are a few common causes.

Lack of Sleep

One in three adults does not get the sleep they need for good health and well-being. (1)

Difficulty sleeping affects upwards of 70 million US adults, with 10% of people dealing with chronic insomnia. (2) If you do not sleep enough hours, or the hours you do spend asleep are not restful, naturally, you’re going to feel tired during the day.

Stress or Anxiety


Chronic feelings of stress sap the body of energy and vitality. If you spend all day in a fight and flight state due to stress triggers, your body quickly feels burnout and fatigue.

It’s challenging to have the energy to get through the day when it takes all you’ve got just to keep feelings of stress contained. Anxiety and tiredness go hand in hand.

Health Conditions

Many common chronic and acute health conditions are linked to a lack of sleep. In some cases, difficulty sleeping can be both a risk factor and a side effect of a disease.

It is well documented that lack of sleep increases the risk of disease and poor health.

Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke have all been linked to insufficient sleep as a contributing risk factor. (3)

At the same time, existing conditions such as heart disease, sleep apnea, chronic pain, and cancer can disrupt the body’s normal sleep rhythm and prevent quality rest. (3) Treatments for many chronic health conditions also interfere with the sleep cycle and cause sleep disruptions. (3)

Battling a chronic or acute illness is fatiguing in and of itself. When your body is investing energy in mounting an immune response, there is less energy available for other things. Of course, we all know this is normal when we get a cold or the flu. However, when faced with a chronic illness, acknowledging the toll it takes on your energy is essential.

Lifestyle Choices


Perhaps you’ve heard the saying that “a good night’s sleep begins the moment you wake up.” 

The choices we make throughout the day can mean the difference between a restful night’s sleep or tossing and turning. Many sleep experts will tell you that from the moment you get up, you are deciding how much energy you will have to get through the day and how well you will sleep that night.

Exercise and Fatigue

Getting sufficient exercise and movement throughout the day tires you out. Most of us know the feeling of getting in bed after a physically strenuous day. It’s usually much easier to fall asleep and sleep soundly through the night.

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep apnea, a common cause of disordered sleeping. (4) Being active also decreases stress and releases endorphins that make us feel good. This can help us get a good night’s rest.

One challenging aspect of exercise is how difficult it is to prioritize when feeling tired. While exercise can be an antidote for fatigue, fatigue also makes being active sound unappealing.

Often, exercise timing can play an important role in breaking the cycle of fatigue. For example, exercising earlier in the day may produce a beneficial shift in the circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep/wake cycles. (5) While the general consensus is that the best time to exercise is the time you are most likely to commit to it, those who struggle with getting good sleep could experiment with morning or early afternoon activity.

Exercise can also be an antidote to daytime fatigue. Inserting 10 or 20 minutes of movement at key times of day when you most struggle to be alert could boost your productivity and feelings of energy.

Food and Energy Levels

Insufficient sleep time and poor sleep quality have all been linked to poor dietary habits. (6) Foods like simple carbohydrates, sugary beverages, and high-fat snacks are associated with disrupted sleep.

Timing of eating can impact your chances of getting a good night’s rest. Eating right before bed may result in discomfort from a full stomach and make it difficult to fall asleep. (7) Trouble getting to sleep after eating could also be due to acid reflux from laying down too soon after filling the stomach with food.

Apart from how food impacts our sleep, what we eat plays a vital role in our energy levels during the day. A high-quality diet that contains whole, unprocessed foods, healthy fats, and proteins provides the nutrients the body needs to function well. Conversely, eating processed foods, sweets, sugary beverages, and too much caffeine depletes the body’s energy and makes you feel tired, even if you are well-rested.


Alcohol can be very disruptive to the body’s sleep cycle. While some people feel drinking alcohol before bed makes them sleepy, it is not a good choice to promote healthy sleep habits.

Alcohol interferes with REM sleep, disrupts the release of neurochemicals in the brain, and impairs the function of normal hormone cycles. (8) Regular alcohol consumption also leads to feeling more tired and foggy the next day, even if intake is not excessive.

How Fatigue Interferes with Your Brain and Emotions


When you feel tired, everything feels just a little bit harder. Your ability to focus, do your best work, manage the unexpected and deal with difficult emotions are all tasks that require adequate energy.

Feeling tired slows down the activity of your brain cells, so your brain is literally working slower than normal. (9) This explains why focusing and being productive can be so challenging. The cells in the brain require adequate sleep so they can rest and repair. If sleep is poor, your brain becomes overworked due to a lack of rest and will not function optimally. (10)

Getting enough sleep and feeling rested and energetic are essential to emotional stability as well. The link between feeling tired and difficulty managing emotions is well-established, and lack of rest is associated with negative feelings. (11)

Recent studies have even linked fatigue with increased feelings of anger and aggression. (12)

Feeling tired creates a cascade that impacts every area of well-being.

Moving From Tired to Energetic

To combat fatigue, the goal is to increase rest and relaxation. The body and brain are overworked and need a chance to recharge. Engaging in activities that relax both mind and body will improve energy and allow for more restful sleep. 

Here are four ways to boost energy and sleep better.

Practice Deep Breathing


Taking deep, smooth, steady breaths can be an instant energy booster. When you breathe slowly and fully, the body’s relaxation system, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, is activated, promoting feelings of calm and rest. (13)

Good times of day to practice deep breathing are first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon when many of us experience an energy slump, and before bed to ready the mind and body for sleep. The breathing exercises in the Be Well app can be your guide. You will find yourself feeling relaxed and alert as you follow your breath.

Use Progressive Muscle Relaxation to Help You Fall Asleep

Laying down in bed at night can feel as though your brain invites itself to jump into overdrive and ruminate on every aspect of your past, present, and future. This is not at all conducive to sleep.

One of the best ways to move from a tired but active mind to a peaceful state of sleepiness is progressive muscle relaxation. While this can be done anywhere to promote mindfulness and relieve stress, it is especially effective at bedtime.

The easiest way to get the benefits of this practice is to let someone guide you through it. The Be Well app contains a video that will take you step by step. 

If the app is not accessible at any given moment, you can do the practice yourself. The technique is simple: starting at your toes, gently tense the body area with your inhale and slowly relax it with your exhale. Then, work your way up the body, area by area, linking the tension and relaxation with your breath. This can be repeated as many times as needed until you fall asleep.

Take Steps to Improve Your Sleep Habits


Creating a sleep routine each night is one of the best ways to improve your sleep. Your nighttime routine sets the stage for rest and signals the brain that it’s time to drift off. 

In the Be Well apps sleep section, there are many excellent sleep boosters that can be incorporated into your routine. Whether you use breathing practices, progressive relaxation, or a soothing soundscape to fall asleep to, there are so many options for better sleep right at your fingertips.

Eat for Optimal Energy

Feelings of tiredness can induce cravings for sugar and quick carbohydrate foods to provide fast energy. While giving in to these cravings may give a quick hit of energy, it will not set you up for steady energy throughout the day. Indulging sugar cravings can lead to a cycle of overeating unhealthy foods, only to feel a crash later.

Eating for optimal energy means choosing healthy foods that provide lasting energy and carefully planning your meals’ timing. If you regularly experience food cravings, notice the times of day when cravings occur.

Plan a healthy snack to eat before the energy crash occurs, and make sure you don’t skip meals. Overeating can also be a recipe for feeling tired and sleepy, so eating smaller amounts throughout the day can provide a more even energy level.

A wealth of information is provided in the Be Well app to increase your knowledge of eating for optimal wellness. So get in the app and start learning!

Get Outside for a Walk to Boost Energy


There are few antidotes to fatigue as potent as being outdoors in fresh air and sunshine. Even a refreshing 5 to 10-minute jaunt around the block can give you the extra boost you need to combat fatigue.

Going for a walk outdoors can also put you in a better mood and promote relaxation and calm. As you walk, pull up a story on the Be Well app. Listening to stories read aloud is relaxing and inspiring. It might be just the boost you need to get back to your day with more energy.

Getting Out of the Tired Cycle

We all want to feel energetic every day so we can live a life of vitality and joy. We want energy to do the things we love and to manage our emotions and day-to-day frustrations with grace.

Feeling tired shouldn’t be our default condition. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can all find areas where our choices are wearing us out and making us tired. Building good habits that keep us rested and relaxed is the best way to move from fatigue to a life of energy.