What It Really Means If You're Only Tired During The Day

Feeling tired only in the daytime can be extremely frustrating. Do you fight off sleep all day only to find yourself full of energy when you should be sleeping? Then, you get ready for bed, get tucked under the covers, and can't seem to close your eyes. What's going on?

Your circadian rhythm is responsible for making you feel awake during the day and helping you sleep during the night. While when you wake up and go to bed is ultimately determined by work or school, your circadian rhythm is the inner 24-hour cycle that keeps that going for you. According to Healthline, your hormones, mainly melatonin, play a massive role in your circadian rhythm. When you're exposed to light, your melatonin levels lower, making you feel more awake. When the sun sets and it gets dark, your melatonin levels rise, helping you feel sleepy. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, there are a few health concerns that might be causing you to feel sleepy all day — a sleep disorder, certain medications, jet lag, or genetics. Fortunately, jet lag is temporary unless you regularly take long flights, especially to different time zones. According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag disorder can cause stomach problems, difficulty staying awake, a general unwell feeling, trouble concentrating, changes in your mood, and daytime tiredness. If you're a frequent traveler, see a sleep specialist for treatment.

What about other causes of only feeling tired during the day?

Causes of daytime sleepiness

Daytime sleepiness is likely caused by one of these sleep disorders — sleep apnea, narcolepsy, hypersomnia, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, non-24-hour sleep-wake rhythm disorder, or shift work disorder. See your doctor right away to rule out any of these sleep disorders. 

Some other causes of daytime fatigue are anxiety, depression, caffeine, alcohol, screen time, and napping. Too much screen time too close to bedtime can affect your sleep. According to Healthline, the blue light from your devices can inhibit your melatonin production. Turn everything off at least two hours before you need to sleep. 

Caffeine and alcohol can also cause daytime drowsiness. Verywell Mind recommends limiting your caffeine intake to 400 milligrams or less and avoiding caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. The same goes for alcohol — avoid it six hours before bed and limit your drinking. Too much alcohol will cause sleepiness and other hangover symptoms. Also avoid taking naps. 

According to Time Magazine, if you can't sleep at night, something about getting in bed is triggering you to feel awake, and you need to retrain your brain to feel sleepy when you get into bed. Be patient. Retraining your brain can take a few weeks or more. Practice good sleep hygiene, and if that doesn't work, ask your doctor about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia aka CBT-I. Sleep specialists use CBT-I to help you retrain your brain, so you feel awake during the day and sleepy at night.