Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Louise Carter
Life in the 21st Century can feel unforgiving, and many people succumb to sadness, helplessness, and depression. When this happens, you’ll likely struggle for mental and physical energy.
One possible explanation is that you’re not sleeping enough or aren’t getting quality sleep.
If you’ve ever wondered how being tired affects your emotions, the Journal of Affective Disorders explains that insomnia is often linked directly to depression.
Naturally, there’s a difference between clinical depression and feeling down.
You may be experiencing feelings of sadness because you’re tired. A good night’s sleep will usually resolve the concern, and you’ll awaken feeling better.
If you have depression, feelings of exhaustion may accompany your low mood. CNS Drugs stated that 90% of people with depression experience chronic fatigue.
The more exhausted you feel, the more your mood will deteriorate. Equally, the sadder you become, the less inclined you’ll be to do anything but sleep.
Why Do I Feel Tired When I’m Sad?
According to the Journal of Thyroid Research, an imbalance of T3 and T4 hormones released by the thyroid gland can lead to symptoms of depression and fatigue.
Our brains release less serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine when tired. These neurotransmitters flood our bodies with happiness, so their absence makes us sad.
Equally, the same neurotransmitters provide us with energy, so it stands to reason that we’ll feel sleepy when they’re in short supply.
Having established that poor sleep is linked to depression, the solution appears straightforward. If you’re feeling low, sleeping well is the answer. As per Sleep Science, depression is often connected to sleep disturbance.
People with depression may struggle to fall asleep at night, no matter how tired they feel. If the individual dozes off, broken sleep is also common among people with depression.
Typically, somebody with depression will also spend more of their sleep cycle in REM sleep than at any other stage. This explains why people with depression and anxiety often have nightmares.
The lack of deep, slow-wave sleep gives the body and mind limited time to recuperate. Failing to sleep well when you have depression creates a vicious cycle.
According to The Lancet, insomnia can lead to already-fragile mental health deterioration, with hallucinations and paranoia commonly observed.
Gaining Quality Sleep when Depressed
It’s more important than ever to follow a strict sleep schedule.
The first is to practice sleep hygiene. No matter how you’re feeling, retire to bed and wake up at the same time each night and morning. The stricter the routine, the easier this will eventually become.
Abide by the standard rules of good sleep hygiene. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed. Preventive Medicine Reports connect screen time to depression.
Improve the layout of your bedroom, attempting to balance the energy flow. For example, did you know that sleeping beside a mirror is inadvisable?
Steer clear of artificial stimulants like caffeine or depressants like alcohol. These chemicals can already play havoc with a healthy sleep pattern. If you have depression, the concern will be magnified.
Perhaps the toughest task of all is to avoid napping during the day. As established, depression makes us sleepy, so you may want to doze in the morning, afternoon – or all day.
Depression And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
If you’re struggling to sleep, you may have depression. This will render you exhausted, so you must be careful not to get trapped in a loop of sadness-inspired insomnia and inappropriate sleep hygiene.
Before assuming your low mood is connected to depression, consider whether you may have myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome).
Clinical depression and chronic fatigue syndrome appear to have identical symptoms. In reality, there’s a fundamental difference between these two concerns.
Depression, as explained by Psychology and Health, drains motivation. Chronic fatigue syndrome means the spirit remains willing, but you lack the energy to act upon it.
Imagine that you’re a keen cyclist. Exercise is vital to managing low mood because it releases endorphins and floods the body with energizing dopamine. If depressed, you’ll likely have no desire to cycle. If fatigued, you’ll crave exercise but find yourself too weak to indulge.
There’s no direct test for chronic fatigue syndrome, meaning a diagnosis will be an educated guess.
Often, this condition will be connected to another non-clinical concern like emotional exhaustion.
Emotional exhaustion arises when we reach a physical and mental breaking point, usually after prolonged stress or unhappiness. The outcome will be a lack of energy and sluggish cognitive function.
The core difference between emotional exhaustion and depression is that the latter needs to be formally diagnosed by a medical doctor.
Emotional exhaustion is more akin to workplace burnout – it’s widely acknowledged as a problem but not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Common explanations for emotional exhaustion include:
- Loneliness and lack of social contact.
- Lack of sounding board or reassurance for negative feelings or emotions.
- Constant caregiving toward another, neglecting self-care in the process.
- Deep-rooted unhappiness and lack of satisfaction in a job or interpersonal relationship.
- Feeling that your life is spiraling out of control.
- Grief that’s caused by bereavement or the termination of a romantic relationship.
- Chronic pain that’s due to a medical condition.
- Long working hours, especially in a high-stress environment.
These circumstances can leave us sad and helpless, leading to emotional exhaustion.
As the answer to “Can being emotional make you tired?” is yes, it’s clear why emotional exhaustion is concerning. Manage emotional exhaustion before it leads to chronic fatigue and depression.
Symptoms of Emotional Exhaustion
Check for weight fluctuations, especially when paired with appetite changes. You may find that you can’t stomach food or crave sweet, sugary snacks. Heart palpitations and muscular aches are also common.
Unsurprisingly, emotional exhaustion also has a range of mental effects.
You’ll experience ‘brain fog’ when emotionally exhausted. You’ll struggle with memory retention, cognitive processing, concentration, and creative problem-solving.
Expect your mood to change sharply when experiencing emotional exhaustion.
Pessimism will become the norm, so even the most basic setback can feel insurmountable. When emotionally exhausted, you may also be uncharacteristically irritable.
This can impact your ability to perform at work or fulfill duties around the house.
Your home may be in disarray, and you’ll struggle to manage your interpersonal relationships. Emotional exhaustion can be so numbing that you’ll find it hard to care.
Of course, the main symptom of emotional exhaustion is fatigue. The condition will take its toll and leave you feeling tired most of the time but still struggling to sleep.
Overcoming Emotional Exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion recovery isn’t as simple as going to bed and sleeping until you feel better.
Just as emotional exhaustion builds over time, gradually making you feel more downbeat and sluggish, recovery takes time.
To combat emotional exhaustion, practice the following self-care policies:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. This will help you keep endorphins and energy flowing, making it likelier you’ll sleep soundly at night.
- Follow a strict routine throughout your waking and sleeping schedules, rising and retiring at similar times each day.
- Take time for yourself, away from work. Ensure you utilize any vacation time and give your mind and body rest on occasion – either by yourself or with loved ones.
- Take the time to discuss any problems or concerns you have with friends, family, or a doctor.
Above all, take the time to moderate your incoming and outgoing energy. Practice sleep hygiene and get 8 hours of quality rest per night to promote a positive mental attitude.
If you’re feeling blue, it’s perfectly natural to be tired. The sensations in your brain that lower your mood also prevent your body from generating energy.