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Mental and emotional evidence of exhaustion is actually more common and quicker to show than are physical signs. photo credit: Bigstock

9 Signs You Are Exhausted


Do you ever feel like you are running on empty? Until you try to fall asleep that is. Then, you are wide-awake. You know you are tired, but you just can’t sleep. Our culture is one that is always on the go. From business professionals to stay-at-home moms and even kids, many of us take pride in always being busy.

Sadly, all this rushing and busyness is actually slowing us down. We live in a sleep deprived society, but that doesn’t mean people are falling asleep at their desks at alarming rates. No, the signs and symptoms of an exhausted people are far more serious and sneaky.

More often than not, sleep deprivation leads to a state of exhaustion, but our bodies don’t always show it how one would expect. Mental and emotional evidence of exhaustion is actually more common and quicker to show than are physical signs. In a recent article, Holly Phillips, MD, author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough, says, “Getting used to it doesn’t mean that’s all [the sleep] you need. It means you forget what it feels like to have good sleep.”

Dr. Phillips shares nine signs that you are not getting the sleep you need—whether you feel tired or not.

  1. You are an emotional wreck. If the tiniest things are causing you to meltdown, you might be sleep deprived. Lack of sleep heightens feelings of anxiety and reactions to stress. So next time you freak out over a burnt out light bulb or needing to empty the trash, consider getting some sleep and trying again later. 
  1. You’re having trouble focusing. Have you been spacing out at work or during conversations? Do you feel like it takes you longer than usual to complete simple tasks or work assignments? Trouble focusing is a tell tale sign of sleep deprivation. Imagine if this symptom showed up while driving. 
  1. You’re forgetful. Can’t find your keys? Or your wallet? Or your phone for that matter? Forgetfulness is a sign that your brain needs more rest. Sleep deprivation interrupts our short-term memory, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of searching if you don’t start doing more sleeping. 
  1. You’re gaining weight. Simply put, you are more likely to feel hungry and snack more often when you aren’t getting enough sleep. You are trading in the Zzzs for the lbs. Makes a nap sound quite delicious, doesn’t it? 
  1. You’re walking into things. Some people can’t seem to walk straight to save their life. This is not the norm though. If you are feeling clumsy, tripping a lot, struggling with fine motor skills, then it is safe to say you need more sleep. This is another sign that becomes more serious than an embarrassing fall when you are behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a serious concern. 
  1. You catch colds often. As we recently explored, getting the right quality and quantity of sleep bolsters your immune system. A 2009 study showed that people who get less than seven hours of sleep a night are three times as likely to fall ill. 
  1. You have a hard time falling asleep. It’s not a myth. Sometimes you really can be too tired to sleep. In Marturana’s article Dr. Phillips explains, “When you’re chronically sleep-deprived, certain hormone levels like cortisol become elevated. It’s almost as though when sleep-deprived, your body is in a constant state of extreme arousal.” The longer you try to stay awake, the harder it comes to actually fall asleep. 
  1. Your skin is freaking out. Puffy eyes, wrinkles and even breakouts can be directly linked to a lack of sleep. The term “beauty sleep” is no joke. Increased cortisol levels, as mentioned above, increase water retention and inflammation. 
  1. Your stomach is off. Lack of sleep gets you in your gut. Just as your immune system suffers when sleep is lacking, so does your ability to produce good bacteria. Diarrhea, constipation and general indigestion are just a few of the pleasantries that come along with exhaustion. 

If this doesn’t convince you to get more sleep, then you are even more sleep deprived than you think. There is only so long a person can function productively while exhausted. If you truly want to stay in the rat race, taking a nap or turning in early might just be your best move.

Related posts:

Why Am I Always So Tired?

5 Uncommon Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep

Sleep Better at Any Age


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"Great staff, they make you feel so at home. Every medical facility should be this nice. Felt like a nice hotel. Someone has great taste in decorating. Thanks for making us feel at home."

Steve N.

San Diego, CA

"I recommend them highly!! I took my 2 year old daughter for a sleep study and was very impressed. Our sleep technician was amazing with her, very patient and kind. The DVD we brought to watch while getting her hooked up got stuck in the TV and they vowed to return it. We got a call the next day checking on our daughter and saying how sweet she was, they mentioned the DVD. Several days later, we received the DVD plus a new copy of the Lion King with a nice note. They are very good at what they do and if they can make a 2 year old feel at ease, they can probably do the same with anyone!!"

Anthea S.

Tempe, AZ

"I was especially impressed with Andrew the Respiratory Therapist who reviewed my study with me and answered my questions. Andrew thoroughly explained everything about the Cpap machine-from start to finish. I never felt rushed and was assured I could contact him with any additional questions or needs. Andrew told me he would follow up with a call in a week and he did. I believe this center performed the study appropriately and the added benefit of having Andrew teach me about the machine and what to expect was a bonus."

Candace M.

Scottsdale, AZ