What is Morning Fatigue?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Morning fatigue is an unusually low energy level in the mornings. People with morning fatigue are not necessarily drowsy or tired, and sleeping will not help them feel better. They can wake up feeling fatigued, or rapidly develop fatigue in the mornings. Since energy levels are usually high when people wake up, morning fatigue can be a cause for concern. There are a number of reasons for people to develop fatigue in the mornings and these can be considered during a medical evaluation.

A common cause is disordered sleeping. People with sleep disorders like apnea and insomnia can be fatigued in the morning, as can people doing shift work or changing their sleeping schedules. Another cause can be depression, in which case energy levels may remain low throughout the day. The fatigue in people with depression can be accompanied by generally depressed feelings and unhappiness.

Chronic conditions including low blood pressure, thyroid problems, anemia, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome are also linked with morning fatigue. In addition, certain medications can tire people out; cancer therapy is a common cause of fatigue, for example. A differential diagnosis and evaluation can be used to determine whether a patient has an underlying medical problem. Patients with known medical conditions who notice a change in status like the sudden development of fatigue may consider reevaluation to see if something about the condition has changed.


Some causes of morning fatigue can be treated, resolving low energy levels in the morning and helping patients resume normal levels of activity. Others cannot be treated, but may be managed with medical care. Budgeting energy usage can be helpful for patients, as can having assistance during periods of high fatigue. For example, parents of young children who have difficulty helping their children in the mornings could receive help from a partner or childcare provider.

Sudden changes in energy levels at any time of the day can be an indicator of a developing medical problem. Everyone has occasional off days, but if fatigue and other symptoms persist for several days, grow worse, or are accompanied with symptoms like feeling fuzzyheaded, being sleepy, or feeling unbalanced, a patient may have a serious medical problem. Evaluating a patient fully for all possible causes can take several weeks and may include extensive diagnostic testing including medical imaging, taking blood samples, and conducting patient interviews to learn more about a patient's lifestyle, usual energy level, and potential risk factors for disease.


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Post 4

@cardsfan27 - That is interesting, because I used to have the same problem. With me, it didn't happen too much when I slept in my bed, but if I ever fell asleep on the couch, I would wake up feeling like that. I never did figure out what it was, and I couldn't find any good information on the internet, either, even though I found several people with similar problems.

When it was happening to me, it was during the summer, so the best explanation I had was that I wasn't getting enough water. On a related note, I could see that being another way to fight fatigue. I have always found skipping breakfast to be morning fatigue cause for

me. By the time I eat supper, I can't make it to lunch the next day unless I eat something for breakfast. If you don't want to make breakfast or don't have time in the morning, just eating something like a granola bar or some fruit should help.
Post 3

@jcraig - JimmyT had some good suggestions. Something else that is good to do is exercise in the morning. If you normally exercise in the evening, maybe move it to the morning if possible. If you don't exercise at all, starting might help. I don't know the science behind it, but somehow exercise releases hormones in your body that make you feel more alert. You didn't mention drinking coffee, but I wouldn't start doing that, since that will usually just lead to a crash later in the day.

I am not having any problems anymore, but a few years ago, I was waking up in the mornings with a headache and nausea. I am curious if anyone has ever experienced this and if that might have been a kind of morning fatigue. I never really felt tired, though, just kind of "fuzzy."

Post 2

@jcraig - That is really only something a doctor could determine for sure, but there are a couple other things you can try.

First of all, how much sleep are you getting in general? Most adults need 6 1/2 to 8 hours every night, and that number mostly depends on the person and how much energy you need for the day. Maybe try going to sleep a little bit earlier. Believe it or not, too much sleep can also cause you to be drowsy in the morning. If you're currently getting 9 or more hours every night, maybe you should try getting a little less sleep.

Besides that, maybe it is just that you aren't stimulated enough in the morning, and it takes that extra time to get the juices flowing. Maybe before you go to work, do a crossword puzzle or some other stimulating activity for 30 or so minutes. That might help to jumpstart things.

Post 1

I have recently been feeling tired when I go into work. It has been like this for at least a couple of years, so I have never really thought anything about it until a coworker was telling me that I might have morning fatigue. Sometimes I have trouble getting out of bed, but usually I can force myself to get up. Whenever I get to work, though, I am not very functional or productive for a couple of hours. After that I don't really feel all that tired. Is this normal or could I have morning fatigue?

What are some of the other causes and symptoms of morning fatigue. I go to sleep at about the same time every

night, so I don't have insomnia, and I'm pretty sure I don't have sleep apnea. I don't have any of the other possible causes that were mentioned like anemia or low blood pressure. I don't really notice any other symptoms, either. Just the tiredness for the first few hours after I get up and go to work.

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