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How much sleep do you need?

How much sleep do you need?
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You feel like you’re always going to bed early, but when your alarm goes off, it’s hard to open your eyes and you’re in a fog all day. You may feel like no matter how much sleep you’re getting, you’re still tired. But how do you know how much sleep you need?

How much sleep you need varies by age. While newborns under three-months-old may need up to 17 hours of sleep and adults over 65 may need as little as five hours, most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep a night, according to the Sleep Health Foundation. While not getting enough sleep can hurt your health in these sneaky ways, oversleeping and constantly being tired can be a sign of a problem.

“Oversleeping means that you are sleeping for more than 10 hours on a consistent basis,” says Dr Conor Heneghan, director of research and algorithms at Fitbit. “Oversleeping has been correlated with certain health conditions, such as depression, but it is not a known cause of any health disorders. While irregularities in the body’s sleep clock may play a role in mood, returning to a consistent sleep cycle is a focus area to get the body back on track.”

If you’re getting enough sleep on a good schedule or are even oversleeping and still feel tired, it could be a sign of health problems.

You’re tired because… you’re oversleeping on weekends

You’re tired because… you’re oversleeping on weekends
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You may think skimping on sleep during the week and oversleeping during the weekends will help you feel well rested, but it’s actually hurting your sleep. This habit is called ‘social jet lag’ which is brought on by shifts in sleeping schedule during the week versus the weekends.

“While the recommended average sleep time for adults is seven to nine hours every night, often we may try to catch up on sleep during the weekends,” Heneghan says. “Your body will attempt to recover from the effects of sleep deprivation by having ‘rebound’ sleep –  typically associated with longer overall sleep time, increased deep and REM sleep, and reaching the REM sleep state more quickly. However, oversleeping can offset your cycle and has been linked to other health risks.”

You’re tired because… you’re anaemic

You’re tired because… you’re anaemic
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When you visit your doctor and complain of feeling tired all the time, the first things they’ll often check for is anaemia or thyroid disorder because you can detect those with a blood test, says Dr Amy Shah. “When a patient says ‘I’m tired,’ it’s such a broad term and could be so many things, but if someone says ‘I’m tired and feeling a little more short of breath,’ or, ‘I’m having trouble exercising,’ that tends to be anaemia.” Anaemia is when your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body and the most common cause of anaemia is iron deficiency. Anaemics may also experience feeling cold, dizzy, irritable, or have headaches in addition to feeling tired.

Check out these clear signs you’re not eating enough vegetables.

You’re tired because… you have a condition that causes chronic pain

You’re tired because… you have a condition that causes chronic pain
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“People who suffer from conditions that result in fatigue and pain often require more sleep in order for their bodies to properly rest and recover,” says Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of mattress review site, The Slumber Yard. Often people with fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, anaemia and rheumatoid arthritis may need more sleep and find themselves tired if they’re not getting enough.

You’re tired because… you have a thyroid problem

You’re tired because… you have a thyroid problem
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If you have a thyroid issue, like an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), in addition to feeling tired, you might also feel like your skin is really dry and you’re constipated a lot, along with the lack of energy, says Dr Shah. Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones. While women are more likely to have hypothyroidism, thyroid function tests can diagnose hypothyroidism easily and if you have an issue, your doctor may prescribe a synthetic thyroid hormone.

Here are some facts about your thyroid everyone should know.

You’re tired because you… may have prediabetes or diabetes

You’re tired because you… may have prediabetes or diabetes
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When you have high blood glucose, your blood circulation may be impaired so cells can’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need and you feel tired, according to registered nurse David Spero. Low blood sugars levels also result in feeling fatigued, because there is not enough fuel for the cells to work well, he says on the blog. Research has found that if your high glucose is causing blood vessels to get inflamed by sugar, that chronic inflammation can also make you feel fatigued.

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You’re tired because… you’re depressed

You’re tired because… you’re depressed
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If you feel like you’re tired all the time, don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and/or have trouble sleeping, you could be suffering from depression. Your regular doctor should do a depression screening during a regular visit, says Dr Shah. Your doctor can use a screening tool to determine if you’re experiencing an ongoing depressive disorder, or whether a life stressor or alcohol affects your emotional state. “Depression, alcohol abuse, and fatigue are very tightly knit,” says Dr Shah. Sometimes people will treat depression with alcohol and then be tired, she says.

Don’t miss these signs your loved one could have high-functioning depression.

You’re tired because… you have a leaky gut or food sensitivity

You’re tired because… you have a leaky gut or food sensitivity
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Your gut is supposed to be a very tight tube of cells where nothing from inside of the gut gets into the outside – like a pathway where the body absorbs what it needs without having things enter the rest of the body, says Dr Shah. “If you’re eating poorly, especially a lot of processed foods, the gut cells can become a looser, net-like structure instead of a tight structure, and proteins that aren’t supposed to be in our bloodstream leak into our bloodstream, which creates an inflammatory response,” says Dr Shah.

The inflammatory response can manifest as bloating, fatigue, moodiness, headaches, or weight gain.  If you have food sensitivities (to foods like wheat and dairy) you can feel fatigued, get rashes, and experience bloating or brain fog. “There’s no real good test for food sensitivities,” says Dr Shah.  Following an elimination diet of possible food culprits and then slowly introducing them back in may help you identify what you’re sensitive to. If you remove all wheat from your diet and feel great, and then add it back and feel lethargic, that could be a tell-tale sign of a food sensitivity to wheat, Dr Shah says.

Find out which foods you think are dairy-free, but aren’t.

You’re tired because… you have an infection

You’re tired because… you have an infection
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Doctors will often check for chronic infection as a cause of fatigue due to such infections as the Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis, commonly known as glandular fever) or Lyme disease. Both of these medical issues can present with extreme fatigue.

Discover the best vitamins for sleep.

You’re tired because… you have sleep apnoea

You’re tired because… you have sleep apnoea
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If you have sleep apnoea, your throat starts to close when you’re asleep, which is why people with the condition tend to snore. Not getting enough oxygen sounds scary, but your brain won’t let you suffocate. “The brain notices you’re not getting rid of your CO2, and it wakes up really briefly in an alarmed state,” Dr Lisa Shives, tells WebMD. Good for your breathing, but bad for your tiredness levels. Even though you keep waking up, those wakeful moments are too short for you to notice, so you won’t get why you’re so exhausted the next day.

Don’t miss these silent signs of sleep apnoea you’re ignoring.

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– The Reader’s Digest team