Read below about fatigue, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your fatigue from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having fatigue

Take a quiz

Fatigue Symptoms

Have you been feeling like your "get up and go" got up and went? You are not alone, at all. Many individuals complain of fatigue after those energetic years of childhood have passed — back when we could eat everything, sleep anytime, and had unlimited freedom full of play and lack of worry about of bills, work, and kids of our own.

Fatigue can be caused by many factors in our demanding, modern world. Blue light, of all things, robs us of sleep quality and quantity; environmental toxins impact hormones that regulate sleep, and technology flies at us so fast it creates levels overstimulation we cannot even fathom anymore, constantly assailing us with news, emails, and — again, more blue light.

Fatigue is not only brought on by excesses in lifestyle factors such as blue light and stress, but also lacks — you may feel fatigued, for example, if you're not spending enough energy exercising, eating right, or taking care of yourself.

The symptoms of fatigue are quite obvious and include feeling:

  • Sleepy
  • Tired
  • Weak
  • Unable to start or participate in usual activities
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Forgetful
  • Emotionally drained/moody
  • Nothing to do sounds like such a great idea
  • Feeling like your bones are heavy or leaden

Fatigue symptoms affect our abilities to function in our daily lives, impacting work, school, and family performance and dynamics. Let's review some of the common causes of fatigue, and what you can do to overcome fatigue.

Fatigue Causes Overview

  • Poor sleep hygiene/sleep deprivation: Sleep hygiene refers to habits that affect the quality of your sleep. Having good sleep hygiene means being a selfish sleeper — which is a great thing to be, in this case. It means prioritizing sleep, eliminating lights and even digital clocks from your room, sleeping in complete darkness, avoiding late-night eating that will disrupt sleep, and trying to get to bed early so you can get eight to nine good, deep restorative hours of sleep.

  • Infection: Any infection — fungal, viral, or bacterial — can cause fatigue. Fighting illness or disease requires a lot of energy. The fatigue symptoms associated with illness are our signal to slow down. Sleeping during illness improves both recovery and survival rates. Sure, you can push through feeling "sick and tired," but chances are, you will just feel sicker, longer.

  • Depression : Fatigue (both mental and physical) can be a symptom of depression. With depression, this loss of energy and feeling of exhaustion often persists even if you have adequate sleep. Some people with depression have bursts of enthusiasm and exuberance, but it is more common to have a loss of energy and great feelings of listlessness and lethargy.

  • Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is a gland that produces the hormones that regulate temperature and metabolism. Metabolic changes caused by hypothyroidism will cause fatigue because when the metabolism slows, your manufacture of energy slows as well, as you are not processing food into energy.

  • Lack of exercise/movement: Exercise gets your heart rate up, which will help you feel peppy and energetic. It also heals much of the damage that is done by sitting for long periods of time — and sitting, as you might have heard, is now being deemed more harmful to the body than smoking.

  • Medications: Individuals who take medications such as bipolar medications or those for allergies, arthritis, and fibromyalgia often complain of fatigue, as these medications tend to make you feel very tired/sleepy.

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Being deficient in minerals like iron or vitamins such as B vitamins, like B12, can cause great feelings of fatigue.

9 Potential Fatigue Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Sleep Deprived

    Sleep is very important to health and adults should get a minimum of 7 hours each night. Sleep deprivation causes daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and headaches.

    Resolves with adequate sleep.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, daytime sleepiness, sleep duration less than 7 hours, difficulty concentrating
    Symptoms that always occur with sleep deprived:
    sleep duration less than 7 hours, daytime sleepiness
    Symptoms that never occur with sleep deprived:
    nausea or vomiting, being severely ill, fever, unintentional weight loss
    Wait and watch
  2. 2.Insomnia Disorder

    Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder that prevents one from falling asleep, staying asleep, or a combination of both.

    Condition is treatable with medication and behavior changes.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, mild headache, insomnia
    Symptoms that always occur with insomnia disorder:
    trouble sleeping
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Common Cold

    The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

    The common cold resolves within 7 to 10 days.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
    being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache, sinus pain
  4. 4.Chronic Sinusitis

    Chronic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (hollow cavities behind the nose & cheeks) that lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or years.

    Longer than 3 months.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping, congestion, runny nose
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic sinusitis:
    chronic sinusitis symptoms
    Primary care doctor

    Fatigue Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having fatigue.

    Take a quiz
  5. 5.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Vitamin B12 Deficiency

    Vitamin B12 is a vitamin crucial to healthy neurological and cardiovascular functioning. If deficient, symptoms include trouble thinking, anxiety, stomach issues, and weakness.

    Symptoms resolve completely when B12 levels return to normal.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, history of headaches, racing heart beat
    Symptoms that never occur with vitamin b12 deficiency:
    menstrual period changes
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Type 2 Diabetes

    Diabetes causes that blood glucose (blood sugar) levels to become high. With Type II Diabetes, the more common type, the body does not make or use insulin efficiently. Insulin is necessary to metabolize glucose.

    Type II Diabetes is a life-long condition but can be well managed.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, increased appetite compared to normal, vision changes, feeling itchy or tingling all over, excesive thirst
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Gad)

    Anxiety is a common emotion from time to time; however, persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worrying are signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed when a person worries more days than not for at least six months and has symptoms like fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

    With long-term care, symptoms can be controlled with talk therapy, medication, and self-care.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, general anxiety (stress), irritability, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with generalized anxiety disorder (gad):
    general anxiety (stress)
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Mild Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)

    Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that is chronic. The causes of dysthymia are complex, and often are a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Dysthymia can interfere with everyday life, and people with this condition report feeling loss of interest in their daily activities, sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of energy.

    Dysthymia can last indefinitely.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, irritability, difficulty concentrating, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Symptoms that always occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    depressed mood
    Symptoms that never occur with mild chronic depression (dysthymia):
    severe sadness
    Primary care doctor

Fatigue Treatments and Relief

To avoid fatigue, sleep experts recommend:

  • Sleeping and waking on a regular schedule
  • Eat a very balanced diet rich in plants antioxidants, energy-yielding phytonutrients, and amino acids — a balanced diet will help address any nutritional deficiencies that might be causing fatigue
  • Avoiding caffeine, especially in the afternoon (it will only disrupt sleep quality, even if you are sleeping long periods of time)
  • Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills (these stimulants/drugs ruin sleep quality)
  • Avoiding all blue light-emitting devices during the two to three hours before going to bed
  • Use blackout curtains to eliminate all light that might filter through windows, waking you up and inhibiting sleep quality
  • Avoiding long afternoon or evening naps
  • Exercising in the morning or afternoon, but not in the evening
  • Getting sun exposure in the mornings. Early morning sun exposure tells your body it's daytime and helps your circadian rhythms "set" so your body will better recognize nighttime as well!
  • Avoiding eating too close to bedtime (within two hours)
  • Sleeping in a cool room

You should seek immediate medical care if you have fatigue and:

  • Symptoms of depression
  • Fever
  • There is no improvement despite adequate sleep
  • Think you might have been bitten by a tick

FAQs About Fatigue

Here are some frequently asked questions about fatigue.

Why am I so tired?

Fatigue can be caused by many things. Major causes may include psychological disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, malnutrition), drugs (e.g. antidepressants, drug abuse, withdrawal, addiction), endocrine-metabolic disorders (e.g. hypothyroidism, diabetes), cancers, infections, cardiopulmonary diseases (e.g. chronic heart failure, COPD), rheumatoid disease, and disturbed sleep.

What are the symptoms of fatigue?

Fatigue can be manifested as difficulty or inability initiating activity (feeling generally weak); reduced capacity maintaining activity (tiring easily); and difficulty with concentration, memory, and emotional stability (mental fatigue). Tiredness, lack of energy, and excessive sleepiness are frequently used to describe fatigue.

Why am I sleeping so much?

Many causes can contribute to excessive sleepiness, which include insufficient sleep, sleep disorders (e.g. sleep-related breathing disorders or sleep-related movement disorders), medications (e.g. benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sedatives, or antihistamines), certain neurological disorders (e.g. Parkinson disease), genetic disorders (e.g. Prader-Willi syndrome), medical conditions (e.g. hypothyroidism or obesity), and psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression or anxiety).

Why do I feel so weak and tired?

A variety of systemic disorders can give you the feeling of weakness without making you truly weak, which include cardiopulmonary (heart/lung) disease, joint disease, anemia, body wasting due to malignancy/chronic infectious or inflammatory disease, depression, and fatigue. Causes for primary muscle weakness include muscle diseases (myopathy), and damages to various parts of the nervous system.

What is chronic fatigue syndrome like?

Key features include easy fatigability and difficulty concentrating, and are often associated with additional symptoms (e.g. difficulty sleeping and muscle aches). Onset is often sudden and associated with a typical infection such as an upper respiratory infection or mononucleosis (mono). Excessive physical activity typically exacerbate the symptoms.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Fatigue

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our fatigue symptom checker to find out more.

Take a quiz

Fatigue Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced fatigue have also experienced:

    • 6% Nausea
    • 5% Headache
    • 3% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • People who have experienced fatigue had symptoms persist for:

    • 35% Over a Month
    • 24% Less Than a Week
    • 19% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced fatigue were most often matched with:

    • 10% Common Cold
    • 5% Insomnia Disorder
    • 5% Sleep Deprived
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having fatigue

Take a quiz