Overtired? Everyone is tired at some point. You get tired, go to bed, wake up and you feel fit again. Our body often signals that it would like to rest. Rest in the form of sleep, or relaxation. But don’t you get out of bed in the morning? Do you have to drag yourself through the day and are you constantly yawning?

Everyone has the occasional one of those days. But if you are out of your mind for weeks on end, you may have something among the members. To find out what you can do about fatigue, you first need to know what causes it. Fatigue can have many possible causes.

In many cases, stress is the cause of fatigue. Research shows that 80-90% of people suffer from physical complaints due to stress more than once a week.

This article discusses the most common complaints, where it is necessary to take action to combat fatigue. Do you recognise the complaints in yourself? Then contact us to get started.

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The consequences of overtiredness are

The consequences of overtiredness can be guessed. Further on in this article we will show what the symptoms are. When you recognise these symptoms, it is important to take action. Otherwise, being overtired will quickly turn into overexertion or even burnout.

Both overexertion and burnout often require a long recovery period. In the case of overexertion, a period of 6-8 weeks is used. In the case of a burnout, the duration is many times longer. The average duration of a burnout is 8 months, where we recognize cases of 2- 3 years!

Causes of overtiredness

Below we describe possible causes of overtiredness.

Bad sleep

The most obvious cause of fatigue is, of course, that you sleep too little. On average, you need about eight hours of sleep. Some people need six hours of sleep and others may need as many as nine. You notice it during the day.

If you feel tired and have difficulty concentrating, you may need more sleep. You could try to go to bed for a period of time and get up at a fixed time.

Nutrition and exercise

If sufficient sleep is not the problem, nutrition and exercise are a common cause of a lack of energy. In order to function properly, your body needs fuel. A healthy diet is therefore important. Start your day with a good breakfast and eat enough proteins and carbohydrates. Research has shown that people who exercise several times a week have more energy after six weeks. People who exercise regularly also indicate that they can sleep better.

Don’t grab your cup of coffee when food and exercise doesn’t seem to help. Caffeine as a pick-me-up can be counterproductive. Caffeine shortens your sleep time, disrupts your sleep cycle and reduces the quality of your sleep. Therefore, do not drink more than two to three cups of coffee a day.

Also do not drink alcohol just before going to bed. A glass of wine before bedtime may help you get to sleep faster, but in the end you will sleep less deeply. Finally, water is essential for your body to function properly. Fatigue can be a sign that you are dehydrated.

Read more: Sports in case of burnout?


Certain character traits can also be the cause of fatigue. If, for example, you are a perfectionist, you may worry a lot about what can cause headaches and sleepless nights. If you constantly make high demands on yourself, your energy level drops. So learn to be satisfied and allow yourself to rest from time to time. Are you a worrier? Do you always worry about what others think and everything that can happen? That takes a lot of energy. And it’s a shame to waste your energy worrying about things that will probably never happen.

Or are you an invader? You can also get very tired by always putting everything away. Are you someone who takes his work very seriously and likes to work hard? There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but it is important to take a rest after busy periods. If you keep going, the tension can become so high and you can get so tired that you end up overworked. Being tired is one of the biggest characteristics of being overworked or burnout.

Overtired due to health problems

Of course, fatigue can also be caused by other physical or psychological complaints. If you suspect one of the following causes, it is wise to consult your GP:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Slow thyroid
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Iron deficiency
  • Allergies

If you don’t know why you are tired and your fatigue has been going on for more than three months, that is reason to sound the alarm.

Also read: stress caused by physical conditions

Tired from stress

Stress is a very important factor in overtiredness. When you have stress, it means that a body is in a fight or flight situation. So this also means continuous action. The body is busy with approaching, imaginary danger. All kinds of hormonal reactions take place in a body, which eventually cause fatigue.

Actually, the body is in overactivity, which makes it want to build up more reserves again. More than one person can therefore lose weight or gain weight due to stress. Stress also affects sports performance, concentration levels, sleep hygiene and mental performance.

Consequences being overtired

Consequences of overtiredness

Below we describe the possible consequences of overtiredness.

Puffiness / dark circles under the eyes

Under the eyes there is a circle of fat and moisture to allow the eye to turn properly. As a result of fatigue, a deep, dark-coloured under-eye circle is formed which is particularly noticeable in pale skin.

If you are tired, stressed, sleep badly or have cried, the fatty tissue under the eyes retains more fluid. This makes your skin paler and blood vessels shine even better through your skin, resulting in even darker circles.

Painful, stinging eyes

Tiredness causes sore, stinging eyes and you tend to rub them often. This is often caused by staring at something for a long time (a monitor for example). It results in muscle twitching around the eyes and sometimes even red veins in the eyes.

If you work in a dry environment with an air conditioner, your eyes become even more irritated earlier and more often.

Blurred vision

Stress/tiredness can cause blurred vision with one eye. Stress causes the muscles around the eye to tighten, reducing visual acuity. This complaint usually goes away again as stress / fatigue decreases. Many people do not recognise that blurred vision is caused by stress or being overly tired. However, we very often encounter blurred vision in the people we supervise.


When a child is very troublesome, parents quickly say that the child has to go to bed early that night. So we understand very quickly that annoying behaviour is part of fatigue. Stressful situations at work and in private cause fatigue and mental exhaustion. You end up in a vicious circle where it is difficult to come out of.

You react too quickly, you start walking on your toes to prevent this, and it is precisely this that exhausts you further. The circle is then complete, because you start reacting even sooner. Before you know it you will have a short fuse because of fatigue. You can’t stand anything anymore. Time to recover well!

Painful muscles and joints

In the case of physical fatigue, the supply of energy normally contained in muscles is used to supply energy. With painful muscles and joints, this supply is empty or misused. Waste is left over because fluid drifts away and joints become painful. The result is often that you start moving differently, putting more strain on (and exhausting) other muscles.

In the case of sore muscles due to overtiredness, it is important to exercise well (use the locomotor apparatus normally) and exercise. Through exercise, blood is pumped harder into the body, allowing waste products to be removed.

For this it is important that you drink enough. Drinking a lot of water makes the blood thinner and easier to pump around the body. In this way, waste substances get out of the body sooner and painful muscles caused by over fatigue are a thing of the past.

Painful muscles

Don’t feel like doing anything anymore

When you are tired, you don’t feel like doing anything anymore.

Your body wants to recover, but you may want to continue.

It feels like you can’t do anything anymore, but you really just have to recover.

The most important characteristic of people who have a healthy balance in energy intake and consumption is that they feel like doing the things they want to do.

The body then produces the right hormones to trigger those events.

When you lag behind and are overtired, it becomes  negative stress.

Listening to your body also means that you listen to the voice that tells you whether you feel like it or not.

Panic attacks

A panic attack means you are suddenly nailed to the ground. Sweat breaks out, you shake, you can barely move and you are afraid to collapse on the spot. Once you have had a panic attack, you are afraid to have one again. A ‘trigger’ is created which immediately causes a great deal of stress in the body that ‘makes the bucket overflow’ every time.

As a result, you often see that people who have had a panic attack remain very sensitive to it. In panic attacks, it is often important to ensure that you live a very healthy life, which increases your resilience.

Fatigue complaints sometimes resemble those associated with a panic attack, causing you to panic again.

Incorrect breathing

Being overtired often leads to wrong breathing. Resulting from breathing the wrong way is even more fatigue. Our breathing happens ‘autonomously’. This means that it is controlled by itself. You don’t have to think about it to breathe. Fortunately, otherwise your sleep would look very different. If you don’t think about your breathing, the breathing centre in your brain regulates it. In doing so, the centre pays attention to the acidity in the blood, and also to the amount of oxygen in the blood.

The breathing centre is under the influence of stress and emotions. When you are stressed, you often sigh. When you are frightened or tense, you hold your breath. Once you have recovered from the fright, you sigh. In case of severe stress, fear or emotional events the breathing centre will be stimulated and your breathing will speed up. Just as your breathing slows down the moment your stress factors are lifted again. This vicious circle can only be broken by actively working with it.


When wrong breathing becomes a chronic structure, you can start to suffer from chronic hyperventilation. Tiredness often makes your breathing shallower and faster. You then breathe in too much oxygen and a lot of CO2 again. This explains the light feeling you often get. Stress and tiredness are often the causes of hyperventilation.

Chronic hyperventilation is often noticed far too late. During coaching conversations we meet people who breathe 25-30 times a minute! It is a pattern that creeps in unnoticed. Unfortunately, it is a pattern that takes up an awful lot of energy and is therefore an important reason for overtiredness.

Read more: Hyperventilation and incorrect breathing: how do you deal wit this?

Bad sleep

Overtiredness can cause you to sleep badly. Once you’re in bed, you’ll either lie tossing and turning, or you’ll wake up early. It is also possible that you are haunted in the middle of the night and can no longer get to sleep.

You can divide being overtired due to sleeping problems into two categories: Internal factors and external factors.

The internal factors are the factors that take place in your body. An overcrowded head, too much stress, but also physical complaints such as pain can be the causes of a disturbed night’s sleep.

External factors include noise, a swaying partner or a sick child. The things you can’t do anything about.

Difficulty concentrating

When you are tired, it is often impossible to concentrate. The space in your head has run out and it seems as if your head consists of only cotton wool. You simply don’t absorb anything anymore. The dust that is responsible for this is called ‘BDNF’. Of course you first have to make less cortisol or you will be mopping up with the tap open.

Then you have to provide the right ‘nutrients’ for the recovery. BDNF is one of those essential substances that can promote the recovery of your nerve cells.

Dreaming of peace and quiet

Once overtired, you dream about intensely relaxingholidays that bring your total energy back. You long for total relaxation and really don’t have to do anything anymore. All you have to do is relax, eat and drink and clear your head.

Although a holiday is often a temporary solution when you are overtired for a short time, it is advisable to take structural steps when you are thinking a lot about rest. This requires effective steps in behaviour and vision (we go into more detail at the bottom of this article).

Pull over

If you are overtired, you can no longer think clearly. The result? Worry until you fall over! Everything seems dark and black and it takes effort to get the points of light out of your life. Overtiredness brings unrealistic ideas.

You are no longer able to keep a healthy distance from everyday events. You become overwhelmed and the negative begins to dominate. This can go so far that people become depressed by being overtired.

That is why people sometimes say: ‘worrying is the wrong way to fantasise’. It makes you tired, depressed and moreover, worrying leads nowhere.

Lose weight

The body tries to compensate for the lack of energy by consuming extra energy. The result of this is that you lose weight. For some people this is desirable, but often it is unhealthy. Because you lose weight you get a shortage of the right nutrients so that you actually become ‘malnourished’.

Another reason for losing weight is that the body in overtiredness puts the muscles on edge, ready to take action. Energy is stored in the muscles in the form of glycogen. This is a form of energy that is rapidly available (in case of an emergency, for example). An exhausted supply of glycogen is characterised by a feeling of hunger, trembling and being rickety. For athletes this looks like a hunger knock. Muscles then feel difficult and painful.

Because overtiredness continually stimulates the muscles to be ready for action, it eats away at supplies. The result is simple: an enormous need for energy which, when not rested, leads to weight loss.

To break this vicious circle, good nutrition, which supports the gastrointestinal tract, is important. You can read more about this here


Arriving by being overtired is happening because many people are trying to replenish energy supplies in the wrong way. Overtiredness often results in a great need for sugars. Sugars are stored (if not used) in the form of fat on the body.

Studies in humans and animals have shown a link between increased cortisol levels, a feeling of hunger, a craving for food high in carbohydrates (sugars) and/or fat, and weight gain.  The main negative effect of cortisol is that it can displace fat from fat stores to fat deposits deep inside the abdomen (the notorious abdominal fat). In women this results in ‘rolls around the waist’ in men in a ‘beer belly’. Arriving through overtiredness is therefore actually quite logical.

Decreasing performance

Work and sports performance decreases due to overtiredness. The body is empty and can no longer provide extra energy to achieve great performance. It simply runs out.

When you are tired, you shouldn’t expect your body to persevere anyway. Whatever you need from yourself or your environment, listen to your body and ensure a healthy work/rest balance.

From overtired to overworked and burnout

Being overtired leads to overexertion if you are not careful. Tiredness is a sign from the body that it needs to slow down a bit. If you ignore these signals and go on and on, you will soon end up in a chronic stress situation, or in a burnout.


Overtiredness can lead to a vicious circle. A number of things don’t work anymore because you are tired, because of this you start chasing after the facts and you get the feeling that you can’t do anything anymore. Depressive feelings arise because at some point you feel worthless and inferior.

What to do if you are overtired?

Overtired? This is what you can do!

If you want to solve overtiredness, you should take a number of things firmly into account. In order to cope with overtiredness, it is important to exercise regularly, eat healthily, relax and sleep well, but also take a good look in the mirror. We explain this below:

Solving overtiredness: movement

Of course, by moving you build up your condition. Movement also ensures the production of endorphins by lowering your cortisol level. Movement simply makes you less stressed. Exercise, or sports, also has positive effects on the body. It strengthens the heart and blood vessels, muscle strength, etc. By moving you ‘streamline’ your body and everything costs less energy. You also sleep better.

Solving overtiredness: eat

By eating healthy, your body gets the right nutrition. There are lots of great nutritional plans and websites. We prefer to use the normal. Provide healthy food that, as the word says, nourishes the body.

So you need nutrients that the body has used. This supplementation is called nourishment. Good food is like wood on a wood-burning stove: Good wood burns for a long time and provides a lot of warmth. Bad wood provides a lot of smoke and little heat.

Solving overtiredness: rest

Being overtired also dissolves you by resting. Resting in the sense of sleep, but also in the sense of relaxing activities. Healthy sleep hygiene ensures that you wake up rested and strong. Your sleep also incorporates the events of the previous day(s), so that you don’t have to worry so much about them.

Relaxation ensures that you keep your thoughts in order. Relaxation therefore also ensures that you can sleep well again (you are less ‘on’).

Solving overtiredness: behaviour

To solve overtiredness, it is also advisable to look in the mirror sometimes. The way you look at the world is crucial in how tired you get. If you worry about everything, you quickly become overtired. If you have the choice of what you want to worry about, you may get tired, but never overtired. So it is important to hold the steering wheel yourself.

If this does not happen, we are talking about loss of direction, or lack of autonomy. Precisely the latter is the primary reason why people get burned out. The behavioural factor is often the most difficult to adjust of all the points mentioned here. Yet the body is often a sounding board of your head.

What is going on at the top of your head, you notice back in your body. If you don’t get things straight in your head, you sleep badly, get moody, get behind and overtiredness or burnout is lurking. A coach can help you to make changes in these situations.

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Training and coaching

Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.

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Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching

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