‘Why am I so tired?’ – 6 Common Habits That Drain Your Energy

by Dr. David Minkoff September 14, 2021 6 min read

Athletic man jumping on a forest path from a higher vantage.

If you don’t wake up feeling bright in the morning, suffer from the usual “afternoon crash,” or generally feel sleepy, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, only 16% of Americans feel bright and awake every day. Over 50% of those surveyed reported feeling tired between three and seven days each week – with women accounting for a majority of those who suffer.

But why? Why are you so tired? And what can you do about it?

Well, quite a bit, actually – and some simple changes can have a profound impact on your energy levels.

Today we’re going to talk about six common and easy-to-remedy habits that might be draining your energy.


Habit #1: Eating junk food (including food you might not know is junk)

The term “junk food” is broadly used to refer to food like chips, pizza, sugary beverages, and doughnuts. And yes, these foods will all crash your energy levels – more on that later. But junk food and its effects on energy actually apply to a much wider sphere of foods.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, junk food is defined as:

“Food that is unhealthy but is quick and easy to eat”

Unfortunately, this also actually applies to almost any food that is high on the glycemic index. It has nothing to do with gluten, nothing to do with flavor, and nothing to do with foods promoted as “natural” or “organic.” The standard glycemic index ranges are:

  • Low: 55 or less
  • Medium: 56-69
  • High: 70 or greater

Anything you eat with a glycemic index in the upper-middle range or higher is quickly broken down during digestion and very quickly turned into blood sugar – which causes a spike and then a crash. You probably know to stay away from candy, but did you know that a bowl of white rice can have a very similar effect?

Some common foods that are surprisingly high on the GI index include:

  • White and “whole wheat” bread
  • White rice
  • Breakfast cereal (including gluten-free)
  • Cereal bars
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar (and any product with significant amounts of added sugar)
  • Chips and crackers (including rice chips and rice crackers)

And beyond the immediate effect on your energy levels associated with blood sugar fluctuations, these foods can also cause lingering, long-term health effects that can dramatically reduce your quality of life.

A simple, easy action you can take right now is to cut out processed carbs and anything high on the GI scale and replace it with healthy, nutritious, fiber-rich foods that will supply your body with critical nutrition while simultaneously giving you clean-burning fuel sans the crash.

Habit #2: Not exercising

While it might sound counter-intuitive, exercise actually increases energy levels – even if you feel a bit tired immediately after your workout. Every time you choose not to exercise because you’re too tired, you’re actually pushing yourself further down the spiral.

In fact, numerous studies (as well as my own personal experience) have proven out time and time again that regular exercise stimulates your metabolism and helps beat fatigue.

Beyond the immediate benefit of increased alertness, daily exercise also has significant long-term benefits that compound on each other for overall improved health:

  • Weight loss (relative to diet and degree of exercise)
  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Improved blood flow
  • Helps to promote homeostasis and balance within the body

No matter how busy you are, I guarantee that you can spare a minimum of 15 minutes for exercise each day, and you won’t regret it. Increased alertness leads to increased productivity, happiness, and a significantly enhanced quality of life.

Habit #3: Too much coffee, or coffee too late in the day

Studies have shown that up to three cups of coffee each day can actually improve health in the long term. However, this assertion comes with a couple of caveats:

  • Coffee sweetened with copious quantities of sugar not only counteracts many of the benefits of coffee but actually has a long-term detrimental effect. I have seen countless friends (and some family) that put four sugar packets (16 grams) or more into each coffee. And, no, the “natural” sugar packets that are marketed as “healthier” are not much better for you.
  • One of the primary functions of coffee is to affect the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which affect how tired or awake you feel. Drinking coffee too late in the day, and especially at night, can throw these hormones out of balance and impact your sleep quality. Even if you are able to fall asleep at night after drinking coffee, you are still affecting your quality of sleep.
  • Caffeine is, technically, a drug. Too much caffeine throughout the day becomes highly toxic and destabilizes your adrenal system.

One of the biggest ways you can improve your energy levels is to keep your coffee intake at two to three cups maximum, limit sugar, and make sure you don’t drink coffee too late in the day. It might be rough at first (if you’re used to a late-day cup), but trust me – you won’t regret it.

Habit #4: Electronics at night

As the world moves more and more online and cell phones continue to get smarter, the number of hours looking at a phone rise in parallel.

And while this article isn’t geared toward the overall detrimental effects of EMF, looking at your phone late at night or in bed has a direct link to the ability to sleep and the quality of your sleep. This link is based on two distinct factors:

  • Blue light: Most of today’s phones emit a wide spectrum of light, which includes the blue band of frequencies. This type of light emulates the wavelengths emitted by the sun during the day and triggers an endocrine response that can keep you awake. I mean, think about it – where do you have bright blue/white lights? Offices, classrooms, surgical suites, and everywhere else that you are supposed to remain alert and productive.
  • Stress: One of the most significant reasons people struggle to fall asleep and enjoy a deep, relaxing sleep is stress. And checking your email, your social media, and anything else that alerts you on your phone is a huge potential source of stress – all for virtually no benefit. If you can switch your phone off in the evening and enjoy a night with your loved ones or a good book, you are much more likely to fall asleep quickly and enjoy a deep, restful, restorative sleep.

My advice? Turn off all your electronics at least two hours before you go to sleep!

Habit #5: Lack of sufficient hydration

Hydration is the act of providing your body, and specifically your cells, with life-giving water. You probably know that you’re supposed to drink a certain amount of water each day, and you might even have an idea about why, but what many people don’t know is that water is also a major source of energy.

Water, along with electrolytes, is used by your cells in countless bioactive processes that include the production of ATP – cellular energy.

Dehydration, even mild dehydration, causes (among other things):

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Listlessness

According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need 15.5 cups of water per day and women need 11.5 cups of water per day. And since only 20% of that comes from food, that means that you need to be drinking water. Not juice, not sports drinks, but water.

Furthermore, it’s not just about water. If you lack critical electrolytes, water can’t pass through the cellular barrier, and you can still get dehydrated no matter how much you drink.

If you find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, ask yourself – how much water have you had? And have you had any electrolytes lately?

Habit #6: Lack of sleep… or improper sleep

While this one might sound the most obvious, it’s a surprisingly common issue, with over 35% of Americans reporting sleeping less than seven hours per night.

According to the American Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. And while some people need a bit less than that, the key is to have enough sleep that your body has a chance to detoxify and recharge overnight.

And, in truth, the four earlier habits also have an impact on your ability to sleep well – so yes, a few minor life changes and forcing yourself to get a good night of sleep can make a world of difference.


Turn off your devices.

Eat healthy.

Don’t drink too much coffee.


And feel great!




  1. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/19596-survey-finds-average-us-adult-feels-tired-at-least-three-days-a-week
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/junk-food

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.