What if you Feel Sleepy all the Time? How to Deal with Unmotivated Sleepiness and Exhaustion

Oct 24, 2019

Written by: 

Pavel Khoroschutin


“I’ve been working a lot these past two 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 is unbearable – I come to work late because I cannot wake up early in the morning and, as a result, I ruin the business meeting.

It has become difficult to complete tasks which I was always interested in. I get motivated only if I understand that missing deadlines will lead to serious trouble, but even in these situations I put off my work till the last moment. When this moment comes I panic and try to deal with everything on time and 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 going 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 research conducted by Russian scientists, 40,9% of respondents indicated that they suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. [1] Of course, we can have a long sleep at the weekend, but this “recharge” will not be enough even for a couple of working days.

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

Table of contents:


  • Symptoms of exhaustion and sleepiness
  • Physiological reasons for sleepiness
  • Psychological reasons for sleepiness
  • Exhaustion and sleepiness among men
  • Exhaustion and sleepiness among women
  • Exhaustion and sleepiness among children
  • How to deal with exhaustion and sleepiness: Nine recommendations that work effectively

Symptoms of exhaustion and sleepiness

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

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

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

  • Decrease of physical and mental activity during the 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 the temporal region;
  • Irritation and anxiety. [2]


It seems that everyone has experienced these symptoms at least once. It is true that with our frantic pace of life it is hard to maintain high efficiency at work. Working late hours, bringing up children, meeting with friends, attending the 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 start longing for a nap time (the one that we had in nursery school) during an important business meeting. However, if weakness and intense tiredness bother a person after a decent amount of sleep (7-9 hours a day), the reason of this ailment may be deeper.

Physiological reasons of sleepiness

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

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

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

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


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

Psychological reasons of sleepiness

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

Because of my constant stress at work, I started to suffer from one problem – total exhaustion. I need to wake up at 7:00, but I find it extremely difficult to get myself out of bed. In the early evening, I already feel sleepy, exhausted, and sometimes even sick – so much so that I just want to push everything aside and go straight to bed. I tried to do this, 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 early and can’t fall asleep again.

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

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

— Irina, 32 years old.

Despite quite a sizeable list of physiological reasons for sleepiness and exhaustion and there are some other factors which can trigger these warning symptoms. Sometimes the psychological condition of a person is responsible for initiating a “sleep mode” as a physiological reaction of the human body.

Let us indicate the most common psychological conditions, which can lead to weakness, sleepiness, and sudden 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 one, violence or serious injury, surround themselves with work or any other activity. This doesn’t help because the dramatic moment stays in place and doesn’t allow one to live a full life. Sudden exhaustion, apathy, depressive moods, and sleepiness now become companions in a person’s life. Exhaustion consequently becomes chronic. [3]

2.   Nerve strain

There are numerous events in the life of a modern person that can cause certain reactions, and these reactions are not always connected to positive emotions. It is no surprise that many people who do not “give themselves a break” and who are not able to cope with failures cannot effectively cope with an emotional burnout. Sleepiness, weakness, and headaches are significant symptoms of this condition. A person wants to spend all his/her 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 depression, which is a serious condition.

3.   Lack of self-confidence

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

4.   Habit to be apathetic


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

Exhaustion and sleepiness among men

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

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


Moreover, doctors suggest that the reason for unmotivated sleepiness and exhaustion among men can be explained by a low level of testosterone. The 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 ageing, 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 women, in many cases, may be a particular issue when aged between 25 and 34 years. Specialists explain this with the fact that after their most active child-bearing period women often suffer from iron-deficiency anemia – the main symptom of which is exhaustion. This, even after a healthy amount of sleeping. In contrast, respondents at the age of 55 and older suffered from daytime sleepiness less. Perhaps, it is connected to serious hormonal changes during the pre- and postmenopausal times of a woman’s life. We can conclude that the physical condition of women, as well as of men, is influenced by the functioning of the hormonal system. [1]

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


Sleepiness and exhaustion among women is more often caused by psychological rather than physiological reasons. The reverse is usually the case among men. Women react more sensitively to external negative factors, which can lead to depression and, as a result, to unmotivated sleepiness. [1]

Exhaustion and sleepiness among children

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

The feeling of sleepiness and sudden tiredness is a standard reaction to the hormonal changes that accompanies the teenage years of a child’s life. At 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 exhaustion without having high temperature and not being ill, it is crucially important to pay attention both to physiological and psychological causes. It is necessary to make sure that the child does not experience a stressful environment in  kindergarten or school. Parents may need to reconsider their style of upbringing as weakness and unwillingness to do anything may be caused by a reaction to excessively high expectations of a mother or father.

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

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

Do not practice self-treatment! If you suffer from excessive sleepiness, it is strictly ill-advised to take any kind of stimulators, even if they are vegetable-based, without the recommendation of a doctor. You also should not “treat” exhaustion by drinking huge amounts of coffee or fizzy energy drinks. Yes, these drinks can give you a short energy boost if you have not slept enough, but constant stimulation of the nervous system by caffeine and other substances with similar effects will not solve the problem. They only deal with the 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, a symptom of which may be chronic tiredness, you should work seriously on changing your lifestyle. So, what should you do to combat it if you always feel sleepy and exhausted?

1.   Plan your daily schedule

The first thing is to work on your daily schedule. It is 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 you feeling even more tired as a result. Thus, by doing so you disrupt your biological clock and distract your body from setting the correct cycle of sleep and wakefulness.

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

2.   Reconsider your diet

A healthy diet is one of the most important conditions for 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 will lead to sleepiness.

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

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

3.   Do some sport

Taking physical exercise helps to 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 force 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 training, 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 an active beginning of the day. Exhaustion and sleepiness will vanish as if by magic.

4.   Find the right motivation

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

This is why it is crucial to have strong motivation at the right moment. Motivation which will keep you active, give you energy and remove the sleepiness. Do you sometimes begin to run out of energy and want to give up everything you are doing? Think carefully about what motivates you to complete all your planned tasks. If you start to feel sleepy when you think about the boring report you need to write, instead try to think about the bonus that your boss has promised to give you for successful completion of the project. It’s a better motivation, isnt it?

5.   Find an interesting hobby

For many people, participating in a favorite hobby is a great way to remove the emotional strain, which often comes as the main cause 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 have always wanted to do – it is high time to make your plans come true.

6.   Mediate

Many people do not take meditation seriously. Leave the skepticism behind and try to learn the rules and techniques of this beneficial exercise. Meditation helps to lower your level of stress and to intensify the concentration and 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 have a positive effect.

7.   Give up smoking

Smoking not only affects the condition of the pulmonary and cardiovascular system, regular consumption of nicotine also makes sleeping troubled, which does not allow you to have a good night’s rest. Moreover, harmful substances “block” the 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, sleepiness and even dizziness.

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

8.   Walk more

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

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

Do you feel that an organized daily schedule with physical training, a 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 for chronic tiredness may be caused by your habit of feeling constant apathy. This pathological model of behavior leads to the situation when your body activates “a sleeping mode” and does not allow you to complete basic tasks effectively.

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

Completion of the training will help to change your model of behavior, which causes constant feeling of sleepiness and exhaustion. After working through your negative settings and substituting them to the positive, you will easily find the 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, new positive settings will help you to strengthen the 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. The distant format of the training ensures a convenient and timely support from a psychologist, who provides consultations via phone and e-mail, as well as via online chats. Participation in the training is confidential. It is up to you whether you tell anyone that you are actively solving your personal problems.

Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

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