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What if you feel sleepy all the time: how to deal with unmotivated sleepiness and exhaustion

24.10.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“I’ve been working a lot these 2 years – I have started my own business, so I had to rearrange my daily schedule completely to be able to do everything on time.

I thought I was doing quite well, but recently it has become unbelievably hard for me to make myself work – I feel complete exhaustion and sleepiness. Sometimes it comes to the limits – I come to work late because I cannot wake up early in the morning and, as the result, I ruin a business meeting.

It has become difficult to complete the tasks, which I was always interested in. I get motivated only if I understand that missing deadlines will lead to serious troubles. However, even in these situations, I put off my work till the last moment, and when this moment comes I panic and try to deal with everything on time as quickly as possible.

I’m in good physical health – I’m not ill, I have the same amount of sleep as usual. I don’t understand why I feel so exhausted”

— Alina, 30 years old.

“I’m doing to have a good sleep at the weekend” – we often hear this phrase from the people around us, who work themselves to death during the whole week. According to the researches, conducted by Russian scientists, 40,9% of respondents indicate that they suffer from an excessive daytime sleepiness. [1] Of course, we can have a very good sleep at the weekend, but this “recharge” will not be enough even for a couple of working days.

Constant sleepiness brings a negative influence into people’s quality of life. They cannot effectively fulfill their working responsibilities and do not have energy to do their housework. A passive lifestyle takes a priority over useful and healthy active ways of relaxation. Moreover, sleepiness may be dangerous for a person and surrounding him or her people, if, for instance, these persons spend a lot of time driving. In the present article, we are going to discuss a crucial question – why we feel sleepy all the time. What is it – symptoms of some illness, tiredness or bad habit?

Table of contents:

Symptoms of exhaustion and sleepiness

symptoms of weakness and drowsiness

Sleepiness is a feeling of slowness and tiredness, which is connected to regular urge to fall asleep at an inappropriate time of day.

General exhaustion can be caused by various health conditions of human organism, thus the symptoms of exhaustion may differ from person to person. One may only suffer from insomnia, while other may have a number of warning signs of exhaustion.

If a person suffers from a sleepiness and exhaustion for a long time it means that he or she faces a chronic fatigue. Let us emphasize its typical symptoms:

  • Decrease of physical and mental activity at daytime;
  • Feeling ailments while completing basic daily tasks;
  • Rapid and frequent tiredness;
  • Sleeping disorder – insomnia, nightmares;
  • Weakness or pain in muscles;
  • Migraines — presence of a throbbing pain in temporal region;
  • Irritation and anxiety. [2]

It seems that everyone has experienced these symptoms at least ones. This is true that with our frantic pace of life it is hard to maintain high efficiency at work. Working late hours, bringing up the children, meeting with friend, attending a gym – all these things occupy all our free time leaving so little for relaxation. It comes as no surprise that we always feel sleepy, and we are dreaming about a nap time, the one that we had in a nursery school, during an important business meeting. However, if weakness and quick tiredness bother a person after a decent amount of sleep (7-9 hours a day), the reason of this ailment may be deeper.

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Physiological reasons of sleepiness

Excessive sleepiness is nearly the most common symptom of various disfunctions of internal parts and systems of a body. Quick tiredness and weakness are the first signs of central nervous system depression as the cells of a brain cortex are extremely sensitive to an exposure to external and internal adverse factors. Sleepiness as a symptom is of a great significance while diagnosing numerous medical conditions. [2]

Here is the list of the most common illnesses, which may be identified by sleepiness and quick tiredness:

  • anemia;
  • vitamin deficiency;
  • high arterial blood pressure;
  • traumas or pathological conditions of brain;
  • hormonal imbalance;
  • mental and neurological disorders — psychosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia.

Sleepiness, weakness and exhaustion may also be caused by taking some of the medicaments, such as tranquilizers, antidepressants and antipsychotics. Unpleasant signs of exhaustion often appear as a “payoff” for unhealthy lifestyle – imbalanced diet, smoking, consumption of alcohol and drugs. [2]

Сoncerning influence of weather conditions on how people feel, we can say that there is no scientific proof of this fact. Nevertheless, doctors do not deny that the reason of sleepiness and exhaustion may be dictated by unfavorable external factors, which do not depend on us, such as low atmospheric pressure, humid weather, intensely cold weather in winter, drops and rises of temperature. During such days, some people may have a headache, feel sleepy and find it difficult to work effectively.

Psychological reasons of sleepiness

psychological causes of drowsiness

“Half a year ago I got a new job. Everything is going well except one thing – I still find it difficult to get accepted as a member of the team at work. Side glances, gossips and open conflicts – that is all about my job. I’m trying to get used to that and tolerate it as I don’t have any opportunity to leave the company. The reason is simple – I need money.

Because of constant stress at work, I started to suffer from one problem – total exhaustion. I have to wake up at 7:00, but I find it extremely hard to take myself out of my bed. In the early evening, I already feel so sleepy and exhausted, and sometimes even sick, that I just want to push everything aside and go straight to bed. I tried to do it, and it would sound strange, but I could not fall asleep. It is kind of paradox – I have absolutely no energy, but I can’t get myself to sleep. I don’t manage to have a good rest even at the weekend as I wake up too early and can’t fall asleep again.

There is absolutely no motivation to go to work that I hate. I have to force myself to get concentrated on my tasks. I make a lot of mistakes and it makes my unstable position in the company even worse. Because of sleepiness, I’ve started to drink liters of coffee and smoke a lot.

I feel like a wreck – withered, apathetic, I have even started to feel some kind of retardation. I look at people around me and feel ashamed of myself. Somebody manages to lead an active lifestyle, but I hardly “survive” till the evening”.

— Irina, 32 years old.

In spite of quite a sizeable list of physiological reasons of sleepiness and exhaustion, there are some other factors, which can cause these warning symptoms. Sometimes a psychological condition of a person is the one that is responsible for initiating a “sleeping mode” as a physiological reaction of a human body.

Let us indicate the most common psychological conditions, which can lead to weakness, sleepiness and quick exhaustion:

  1. Sorrowful moment in life

Some people, who are trying to live through a dramatic event in their life, such as loss of a close person, violence, serious injury, surround themselves with work or any other activity. It doesn’t help because this dramatic moment stays in place and doesn’t allow to live a full life. Quick exhaustion, apathy, depressive mood and sleepiness now become companions in a person’s life. Exhaustion becomes chronic. [3]

  1. Nerve strain

There are numerous events in a life of a modern person that can cause certain reactions. Although, these reaction are not always connected to positive emotions. No wonder that many people who do not “give themselves a break” and who are not able to cope with failures effectively can face an emotional burnout. Sleepiness, weakness and headache are significant symptoms of this condition. A person wants to spend all the free time alone trying to hide from reality in a world of dreams. [3]

If urgent measures are not taken, a nerve strain can lead to a depression, which is a serious illness.

  1. Lack of self-confidence

People who are not confident about themselves always worry about how other people evaluate their actions. They are dependent on the opinions of people that they may know or may not know very well. Constant nervousness and anxiety lead to emotional exhaustion. An unconfident person tends to prefer inaction to activeness, because he or she finds it more comfortable.

  1. Habit to be apathetic

According to psychologists, apathy is nothing else than an unhealthy behavioral model and a bad habit. Due to his or her personality traits or personal settings, developed during the childhood, a person hides from any activeness and gets deeper into inactiveness. Gradually, it becomes a norm of behavior. A person may even have enough sleep but still feels tired due to his or her habit to feel so. Chronic tiredness, with such symptoms as sleepiness and weakness, becomes a consequence of learnt behavioral model when a person just doesn’t bother to get involved into some active tasks.

Exhaustion and sleepiness among men

drowsiness in men

Men are physically stronger than women, but men also sometimes feel sleepy and tired, especially those men who are occupied with physically demanding job. Everybody has experienced minutes or even hours of not being in a mood of doing anything. It is a typical reaction of our body to a long stressful day.

However, if sleepiness is not a result of physical tiredness a problem may be explained by unhealthy lifestyle of a person. Research shows that there is a direct connection between an increase of level of daytime sleepiness and an index of a body weight. According to opinions of specialists, people with obesity more often suffer from sleeping disorder due to apnea (snoring), which does not let them have enough sleep at night. This may explain a chronic exhaustion. [1]

Moreover, doctors suggest that the reason of unmotivated sleepiness and exhaustion among men can be explained by low level of testosterone. Male sex hormone determines, in many ways, the energy level of a man. If not enough of this hormone is generated, which happens quite often with the age, a man may face some unpleasant symptoms such as insomnia and a feeling of constant exhaustion. [1]

Exhaustion and sleepiness among women

Research shows that daytime sleepiness, in the majority of cases, may be an issue for women aged 25-34 years old. Specialists explain this by the fact that after the most active child-bearing period women often suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, the main symptom of which is exhaustion, even after healthy amount of sleeping. In contrast, respondents in the age of 55 and older suffered from daytime sleepiness less. Perhaps, it is connected to serious hormonal changes during pre- and postmenopausal period of women’s life. We can conclude that physical condition of women, as well as of men, is influenced by functioning of hormonal system. [1]

Sleepiness and exhaustion among women during pregnancy is a special case. Almost every woman feels weakness and quick tiredness during these difficult 9 months. It is standard reaction of a body to hormonal “resetting” and to nervousness associated with giving a birth. If a pregnancy is going without any complications and doctors have not noticed any problems with a woman’s or a child’s health, quick tiredness may be “cured” by having some rest.

The reasons of sleepiness and exhaustion among women are more often caused by psychological factors rather than physiological ones, which dominate as reasons of sleepiness and exhaustion among men. Women react more sensitively to external negative factors, which can lead to depression and, as the result, to unmotivated sleepiness. [1]

Exhaustion and sleepiness among children

Children suffer from excessive sleepiness much more often than adults do. It is associated both with lability of central nervous system and with increased vulnerability to exposure to external negative factors. That is why if a child is ill with an infectious disease he or she starts to feel sleepy and exhausted earlier and more vividly than adults. Even insignificant from the first glance problem can sometimes cause a defense reaction in the form of apathy and chronic exhaustion.

Sleepiness and quick tiredness is a standard reaction to the hormonal change that accompanies a teenage period of a child’s life. At the age of 12-17 years, children often complain that they start to feel tired very quickly. [3]

In order to understand why a child often demonstrates signs of sleepiness and exhaustion without having high temperature and not being ill, it is crucially important to pay attention both to physiological and psychological reasons. It is necessary to make sure that a child does not have any stressful environment in a kindergarten and school. Parent should reconsider their style of upbringing as weakness and unwillingness to do anything may be caused by the reaction to excessively high expectations of a mother and a father.

How to deal with exhaustion and sleepiness: 9 recommendations that work effectively

how to deal with weakness and drowsiness

If you have any suspicions that chronic tiredness is driven by physiological reasons, you should consult a doctor – general practitioner or endocrinologist.

Do not practice self-treatment! If you suffer from excessive sleepiness, it is strictly prohibited to take any kind of stimulators, even if they are vegetable-based, without recommendation of a doctor. You also should not “treat” exhaustion by drinking huge amounts of coffee and fizzy energy drinks. Yes, these drinks can give you a short energy boost if you have not slept enough, but constant stimulation of nervous system by caffeine and other substances of similar effect does not solve the problem, it only deals with external symptoms of sleepiness. There is an opinion that frequent consumption of energy drinks may lead to a demand from your brain to be constantly stimulated.

If a specialist does not confirm any diagnosis, symptom of which may be chronic tiredness, you should work seriously on changing your lifestyle. So, what should you do if you always feel sleepy and exhausted?

  1. Plan your daily schedule

The first thing that you should work on is your daily schedule. It comes as no surprise that you always feel exhausted if you go to bed after midnight and wake up very early in the morning. You also should not rely on the idea that you will be able to have a long sleep at the weekend. It is simply impossible to recompense the absence of sleep that you had during the week. Moreover, such attempts can lead to feeling even more tired as the result. Thus, by doing so you disrupt your biological clock and distract your body from setting the correct cycle of sleeping and being awake.

You will have to learn a new healthy habit – to go to bed earlier than you used to. If you have enough sleep, you will feel cheerful and energetic during the whole day.

  1. Reconsider your diet

Healthy diet is one of the most important conditions of well-being. Unmotivated tiredness often appears due to lack of certain vitamins and nutrients (vitamin C, B12, D, protein, complex carbohydrates). In addition, frequent consumption of starchy and fattening food leads to sleepiness.

It is vitally important to include some healthy products, such as vegetables, greenery, fruit, meat, fish, into your diet. Nutrition specialists recommend organizing a daily diet in such a way that you would have 5-6 small meals a day.

Healthy diet, together with physical exercises, can help to lose weight. It is also quite important, especially bearing in mind that sleepiness often bothers overweight people. 

  1. Do some sport

Physical exercises remove stress and can give you more energy than a strong coffee. It is likely that if you suffer from exhaustion caused by psychological reasons, at first you will have to make yourself go to the gym, but soon it will become a healthy habit.

If you do not have time to attend group or individual fitness trainings, you can work out at home. Even a simple morning exercise can help you feel more energetic and can give you a portion of happy hormones for active beginning of the day. Exhaustion and sleepiness will vanish as if by magic.

  1. Find an right motivation

Sometimes apathy and, as the result, constant sleepiness, can be caused by “wrong” motivation. A person does not understand the reason to do what is necessary to do. Therefore, if this reason is not clear, a person does not want to do the task. A laziness inevitably leads to sleepiness. Eventually a person has lots of unfinished tasks, guilty feeling and stress.

That is why it is crucial to have a strong motivation at the right moment, which will keep you active, give you energy and remove sleepiness. Have you realized that you begin to run out of energy and you want to give up everything you are doing? Think carefully what motivates you to complete all your planned tasks. If you start to feel sleepy when you think about boring report you have to make, instead try to think about a money bonus that your boss has promised to give you for successful completion of the project. It is the best motivation, isn’t it?

  1. Find an interesting hobby

For many people favorite hobby is a great way to remove emotional strain, which often comes as the main reason of sleepiness and chronic tiredness. A pleasant activity may help you to wake up in an excellent mood and be active during the whole day.

Do the things that you always wanted to do – it is high time to make your plans come true. 

  1. Mediate

Many people do not take meditation seriously. Leave the skepticism behind and try to learn the rules and techniques of this exercise. Meditation helps to lower the level of stress and to intensify the concentration of attention. It is exactly what you need if you always feel sleepy due to physical or emotional exhaustion. [4]

Put at least 20 minutes into meditation, it is not a waste of time. Even this short period of meditation can give you a positive effect.

  1. Give up smoking

Smoking not only affects the condition of pulmonary and cardiovascular system. Regular consumption of nicotine makes sleeping troubled, which does not allow you to have a good rest at night. Moreover, harmful substances “block” supply of oxygen into the tissues of brain, which also leads to chronic exhaustion. [4] If you have been smoking for a long time you may be at risk of feeling constant weakness and sleepiness and even dizziness.

It is hard to fight with this unhealthy habit, especially if a person has had a long-lasting “relationships” with cigarettes. However, it is necessary to give up smoking in order to be healthy and not to suffer from exhaustion.

  1. Walk more

Fresh air gives you energy. Even a slow walk can cheer you up, it will provide you with a good mood, give you some time to relax. Sometimes this is all you need to remove the accumulated stress and cope with the exhaustion.

  1. Complete the training on techniques of behavioral modification 7Spsy

Do you feel that organized daily schedule with physical trainings, healthy diet and giving up unhealthy habits do not help you to deal with constant sleepiness? You should pay attention to the idea that the reason of chronic tiredness may be caused by your habit of feeling constant apathy. Patalogical model of behavior leads to the situation when your body activates “a sleeping mode” and does not allow you to complete basic tasks effectively.

A training on techniques of behavior modification 7Spsy has demonstrated a high effectiveness in dealing with negative habits. It is a patented method of behavioral psychology based on the theories of Ivan P. Pavlov, Burrhus F. Skinner, Alexei A. Ukhtomsky and others.

We will teach you to create and observe a daily routine

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

Completion of the training is going to help to change the model of behavior, which causes constant feeling of sleepiness and exhaustion. After working through your negative settings and substituting them to the positive ones, you will easily find a proper motivation to complete necessary tasks at home and at work. Having overcome your lack of self-confidence, you will find it much easier to remove stress, which often becomes the reason for sleepiness. Acquired during the completion of the training positive settings will help you to strengthen your will power – a driving force, which encourages us to finish the tasks that we have started earlier. 

A course on techniques of behavior modification 7Spsy has been designed for a period of up to 6 weeks. Distant format of the training ensures a convenient and timely support from a psychologist, who provides a consultation via phone and e-mail, as well as via online chats. Participation in the training is confidential: you may not tell anyone that you are actively solving your personal problems.


  1. «Rasprostranennost’ izbytochnoj dnevnoj sonlivosti v Rossijskoj federacii» (zhurnal «Nervno-myshechnye bolezni», 2018 g., tom 8, №4), A. L. Kalinkin (https://cyberleninka.ru/article/v/rasprostranennost-izbytochnoy-dnevnoy-sonlivosti-v-rossiyskoy-federatsii).
  2. «Bol’shaya medicinskaya enciklopediya», 2013 g., kollektiv avtorov.
  3. «Hronicheskaya ustalost’. Kak ee pobedit’», 2011 g., A. A. Andreev.
  4. «Stress i hronicheskaya ustalost’. Kak perestat’ nervnichat’ i nachat’ zhit’. Luchshie metody», 2009 g., V. N. Amosov.