Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: The Top Possible Causes

Are you feeling tired all the time during the day? If so, check out this guide to learn about the possible causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

Do you need coffee after lunch to help you make it through the rest of the day? If so, you’re not alone. A survey conducted by the National Safety Council found that 43% of Americans don’t get the sleep they need to function properly at work.

In may surprise you, but there’s an official, medical term for this condition. It’s called Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS).

This condition causes several side-effects such as lack of concentration, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and anxiety. If this is happening to you daily, you need to get to the root o the problem before it starts causing job-related issues.

To help you out, we’re going over some of the top causes of EDS.

A Poor Sleep Routine

If you’re lucky to get six or seven hours of sleep each night, you’re bound to struggle with fatigue during the day. There’s a good chance you’ve developed bad sleep habits.

A common mistake many people make is failing to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. If you go to sleep and wake up at different times throughout the week, your body’s sleep cycles will get out of whack.

Try to use your bedroom for sleeping only. You should also invest in a mattress that’s right for your body. This puffy mattress review breaks down the different components of a high-quality mattress.

It’s also important to avoid naps. This may be hard to do if you’re exhausted, but napping will throw off your nighttime sleep schedule. If you feel tempted to take a nap after work, force yourself to stay up.

Overwhelming Stress

Stress is the primary cause of so many health issues today. Unfortunately, we live in very stressful times.

One of the most debilitating side-effects of stress is trouble sleeping. What makes the situation worse is that lack of sleep leads to more stress. Soon, you’re caught in a vicious cycle.

If you’re dealing with high levels of stress due to your job, financial issues, or other triggers, you need to find ways to give yourself a break. This may seem impossible, but there are things you can do.

It’s important to make time for things you love to help take your mind off stressors. Make it a point to work these activities into your schedule.

It also helps to learn basic meditation and practice it before bed. This is a great way to clear your mind and relax your body before turning in.

Medical Sleep Disorders

If you’ve tried several techniques to try to get healthy sleep and still suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, there may be an underlying medical disorder you don’t know about.

Insomnia is the most well-known sleep disorder. It involves several debilitating symptoms, all which cause a person to get very little sleep. These include:

  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Trouble staying asleep throughout the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Fatigue after waking up
  • Racing thoughts at night

Insomnia is a common disorder, but you shouldn’t automatically assume it’s the cause of your sleep issues. There are plenty of other medical sleep disorders that can lead to daytime exhaustion.

Sleep Apnea

This is a very serious sleep disorder that causes a person to temporarily stop breathing throughout the night. People who suffer from sleep apnea will waken suddenly when this occurs.

The pauses in breathing associated with this disorder interrupt a person’s natural sleep cycles. They also reduce the amount of oxygen to the brain, which is dangerous.

In addition to daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea can cause other medical conditions. An increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure are all possible.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s important you see a doctor right away. There are many treatment options, ranging from lifestyle changes to the use of a positive airway pressure (PAP) machine, which supplies a person with oxygen while they sleep.


People who suffer from narcolepsy have trouble regulating the functions of wakefulness and sleep. This disorder causes several problems, one of which is daytime fatigue.

Narcolepsy causes the body to exhibit the characteristics of a sleeping mind while the person is awake. In extreme cases, the individual may sufferer from paralysis.

Alternatively, narcolepsy can cause a person to wake up suddenly while asleep. This interruption in sleep cycles is directly related to fatigue during the day.

A doctor can prescribe stimulants or antidepressants to help combat narcolepsy. Certain lifestyle changes such as more exercise, cutting out alcohol, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule also help reduce the symptoms.

Restless Leg Syndrome

While this condition is often associated with other illnesses, it can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to get healthy sleep. Restless leg syndrome is characterized by the uncontrollable urge to move the legs. It typically occurs while a person is in bed or a lying position.

In addition to moving the legs, an individual who suffers from restless leg syndrome may feel a burning, crawling, or aching sensation. This, along with the uncontrollable movement, can interrupt sleep patterns.

There is a wide range of medications that can help fight restless legs syndrome. It also helps to stop consuming caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Circadian Rhythm Disorders

Everyone has a circadian rhythm built into their natural clock. It helps your body coordinate itself with the timing of night and day.

Several circadian rhythm disorders can interrupt this process. If this happens, you’ll feel tired at the wrong times. Typically, a person feels exhausted during the day instead of at night.

A circadian rhythm disorder can also make you feel very tired in the early evening, causing you to go to sleep long before you should. You’ll then wake in the middle of the night and won’t be able to get back to sleep.

Things like seasonal effective disorder or even jetlag can cause a disturbance in your circadian rhythm. If this happens, taking melatonin can help realign your brain’s sleep patterns. More aggressive treatment involves light therapy.

Leading a Sedentary Life

Unfortunately, many people today lead very sedentary lives. Less than 5% of adults engage in 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

A life without regular exercise can lead to many health issues, including:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Cancer

A sedentary life can also cause daytime fatigue. Even if you’re getting enough sleep, you may still feel drained of energy by midday.

When you exert yourself while exercising, you’re boosting your energy levels. This is due to an increase in circulation and a strengthening of cardiovascular function. You may feel tired right after you work out, but you’ll feel better overall.

Also, exercising regularly helps wear you out. It also relieves stress, which is critical if you’re having sleeping issues.

The next time you feel exhausted in the afternoon, try getting up and taking a brisk walk. You’ll start feeling better right away. You should also make it a point to exercise vigorously several times a week.

A Bad Diet

Constantly feeling tired isn’t only a side-effect of lack of sleep. The things you put in your body have a direct impact on your energy levels.

It’s important you’re getting a balanced diet which includes sufficient nutrients and proteins. If fast food is part of your regular diet, you’ll need to make some changes.

Eating plenty of vegetables is key to a healthy diet. It’s also important to eat whole grains regularly.

Skipping meals can lead to daytime fatigue, so make sure you’re eating three, well-balanced meals every day. You could also try having snacks in between meals. Just make sure they’re healthy snacks.

If you’re not eating enough, you’re bound to feel fatigued. You need the appropriate caloric intake for your age, gender, and body weight.

Finally, drinking enough water is essential. Dehydration causes fatigue, so make sure you’re getting at least 64 oz. of water every day.


Prescription and over-the-counter medications tend to cause fatigue, even if it’s not one of the common side-effects. There’s a chance you’re taking something that’s contributing to daytime exhaustion.

Antidepressants can change your mood and work like physical depressants. They can also disrupt sleep cycles.

Many medications for high blood pressure may cause fatigue. In this case, you may be able to resolve the issue by taking your medication at night instead of in the morning.

Over-the-counter allergy medicines tend to cause tiredness. You may want to seek out natural alternatives.

If you suspect your daytime fatigue is connected with a medication, talk to your doctor right away.

Combat Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

Constantly struggling to perform well throughout your day is extremely frustrating. However, once you find the source of the problem, making the proper adjustments is easy.

Don’t let excessive daytime sleepiness control your life. Get to the heart of the issue and start showing your full potential each day.

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