Everyone will experience episodes when they are more tired than usual. You may even wake up feeling more tired than you did before bed. When tiredness becomes unusual or unrelenting, it may be time to investigate more serious problems by visiting a sleep clinic.
Distinguish Between Sleepiness And Fatigue
Both being sleepy and fatigued may be lumped into tiredness, but they are not the same. If you wake up feeling like you need more sleep or find you could take naps during the day, this is more likely a sign of problems with your sleep quality. Being fatigued or exhausted is a different feeling. You may not feel like you need a nap, but even the most casual activities can make your body feel worn out or you may even become winded easily. You might liken the feeling to coming down with the flu, but you never actually become sick. There are numerous underlying medical or psychiatric concerns that can make you feel more exhausted than usual. Pay attention to other symptoms that may co-exist, such as fevers, heart palpitations, or changes in your mood. Any new or persistent symptoms could help you and your doctor figure out the underlying problem.
Schedule A Physical
Even if you had a thorough check-up within the last year, the sudden change in your well-being, especially if you feel short of breath and fatigued easily, should be evaluated by your doctor. Your doctor should pay special attention to any indications of heart or lung problems, such as an arrhythmia or abnormal sounds in the lungs. You should also have basic blood work, such as a complete blood count (CBC), metabolic panel, and tests to detect thyroid issues. Some concerns your doctor may be looking for include blood count abnormalities that may be consistent with anemia, cancer, organ dysfunction, or hypothyroidism. Even if your blood work is normal, do not be afraid to ask about other tests, such as those measuring inflammation and testing for autoimmune diseases. Debilitating fatigue is a hallmark symptom of many autoimmune diseases, and without specific tests, they may go undiagnosed for years.
Consider A Sleep Study
If you believe there is a problem with your sleep and your doctor cannot find any obvious medical issues, a sleep study might help you find the answer. At minimum, being monitored with a pulse oximeter while you sleep at home may identify problems. This easy form of testing may reveal changes in oxygen saturation when you sleep, which can be consistent with sleep apnea. Regardless of the results of your pulse oximetry test, a sleep medicine doctor might want a more in-depth sleep study. This usually requires an overnight stay in a sleep lab where you are attached to various testing devices and even recorded on video while you sleep. Some people find out they walk or talk in their sleep. Testing of brain activity may reveal problems where you never enter the deep, restorative stages of sleep.
Being tired is not always resolved by sleeping longer. When you notice persistent sleepiness or exhaustion, it is time to determine the underlying cause.