Sleeping at Night But Still Feeling Tired? Experts Explain Why

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Feb 25, 2024

There’s no doubt that feeling tired is one of the most common complaints among Americans. In fact, according to a recent study, only 16% said they don’t feel sleepy at all throughout the week. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Sleep specialist Dr. Abhinav Singh from the India Sleep Center wants Americans to understand that they simply need to prioritize sleep, and most importantly, the quality of that sleep, to feel refreshed every day. 

Tiredness Isn’t a “Trophy” to Be Won

Dr. Singh wrote a book called “Sleep to Heal,” in which he explains that “[Sleep] is the foundation of health,” and the many ways in which Americans both need and ignore their sleep patterns. 

Mother holding her baby while looking at a laptop and writing something down at the same time

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Specifically, Dr. Singh notes that Americans often see feeling tired “as a trophy” to be won. Since the nation’s culture is to “rise and grind 24/7,” being sleepy means you’re working as hard as possible, which is seen as a positive attribute. 

It’s Crucial to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

However, Singh wants to make it clear that not only is being tired not a badge of honor, but it’s actually detrimental to your physical and mental health.

Woman waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep

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But for many, the solution isn’t as simple as just going to bed earlier. In fact, Dr. Singh notes that the majority of Americans don’t suffer from too little sleep but, instead, poor quality sleep

First Things First, Assess Your Physical Health

It’s important to understand that for many, tiredness is a simple consequence of poor quality sleep, but for others, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition. Therefore, for those struggling to stay awake throughout the day and feeling a constant lethargy, the first thing to do is to be assessed by a medical professional.

Doctor taking a patient’s blood pressure

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Dr. Singh asks, “When was the last time you actually had a detailed blood test and a primary care evaluation about your health? Not illness, but health.” And encourages everyone, but especially those suffering from excessive tiredness, to visit a physician immediately. 

There Are Many Possible Causes for Constant Tiredness

The doctor could deduce that the sleepy feeling is a result of diabetes, inadequate nutrition, poor heart health, medication side effects, or a mood disorder. 

Woman who has fallen asleep at her desk while working

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However, if the doctor notes that there are no physical ailments causing this tired feeling, then Dr. Singh says it’s time to look at your pre-sleep habits and make some real changes. 

You Shouldn’t Be Tired After Sleeping 7-8 Hours

Dr. Singh said, “If you sleep seven, eight hours, you’re expected to feel more refreshed and awake and energetic. If that doesn’t happen, then something’s going on.”

Woman sleeping soundly in bed

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And he, as well as other sleep specialists, agree that “something” is most likely poor quality sleep, and it can be rectified. 


How to Improve Sleep

Sleep medicine specialist Dr. Hal Alpert told USA Today that in order to improve one’s sleep, it’s crucial to implement good habits during the day and just before bed. 

Man exercising in his living room while watching a video on a laptop

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First, he says, exercising regularly will certainly help one fall asleep and stay asleep as the body will physically be tired. Second, everyone should establish a consistent bed and wake-up time, even on the weekends.


Limit Naps to 30 Minutes

Additionally, Dr. Alpert and Dr. Singh both agree that an afternoon nap can be a great option to refresh the body and mind when needed. However, naps should never last longer than 30 minutes. 

Woman waking up from a nap and hitting her alarm clock

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He also explained that it’s best to avoid electronics before naps or bedtime. As a Harvard study noted, the blue light from phones and televisions actually keeps people awake longer and has negative effects on their quality of sleep.


Slowing Down Before Bedtime

Instead of looking at the phone, Dr. Alpert recommends reading a book to fall asleep. But even before bedtime, there are several tactics one can take to show the body it’s time to shut down.

Woman reading a blue book in bed

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Avoiding alcohol and food late at night, taking a warm bath or shower, listening to calming music, or even meditation for a few minutes can make a huge difference in sleep quality. 


The Bed Is a Calm Space

Dr. Alpert also explains that one’s bed should only be used for sleep or sex, not for work, television, or just lounging throughout the day. In this way, one can train the body to become tired as soon as it hits the mattress. 

Man tired while sitting in bed with an energized dog at the foot of the bed

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Also, cutting down on movement and distractions before and during sleep can make a huge difference. So, even though your furry friend may love sleeping at your feet, it’s better for your quality of sleep to get them their own bed nearby.


No Tactics Are Helping Improve Your Lethargy

Dr. Singh wants people to understand that if none of these tactics are helping improve your constant tiredness, there may be an underlying issue. 

Man falling asleep at the wheel of a car

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He notes that after a good night’s sleep, if you are still experiencing drowsiness when driving, brain fog, mood changes, headaches in the morning, or weight gain, it’s absolutely time to see a specialist.


Being Tired Doesn’t Have to Be Normal

Feeling tired all the time makes us less productive and certainly feel less joy in our daily lives. And many sleep specialists, like Dr. Singh and Dr. Alpert, agree that it shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way. 

Doctor smiling at a patient in for a checkup

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If you’re constantly tired, in addition to improving your sleep schedule, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor as soon as possible. You deserve a great night’s sleep every night.