Do you often go through the day feeling sleepy and sluggish, even after a full night’s rest? While it’s common to occasionally feel lethargic during the day, persistent symptoms could mean something more. We ask a doctor on what the possible reasons are for waking up tired.

As a sessional consultant psychiatrist at Tropicana Medical Centre, Dr. Gurdeep Singh often encounters patients with sleep problems. “Poor sleep quality is one of the most common complaints I receive from my clients. I would say that roughly 8 out of 10 of my clients have trouble with sleep, or with falling asleep, thus affecting the quality of rest they are getting.”

waking up tired all the time

“There are many reasons why some people wake up feeling tired, even after a full night’s worth of sleep.

  • Some may have used sedatives, alcohol or drugs to help them fall asleep
  • Some wake up tired because of an underlying medical condition, like Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Some may suffer from underlying depression, or untreated anxiety
  • Other causes could be spending too much time with electronic gadgets just before sleeping, overeating just before sleep, or having too many psychological stresses,”

When these clients come to Dr. Gurdeep, they are looking for a quick fix to their problem with sleep. “Most of them come in with the initial complaint of not being able to sleep, and seek a quick fix in the form of sleeping pills. The quality of sleep and rest affects the quality of life, so if someone is not getting enough rest, it spills over into how they perform at work or school – and can negatively impact their mood, too.”


popping some pills

Dr. Gurdeep shares the example of a patient he recently treated. “Mrs. P is 48 years old, married with 3 kids and works as an administrator. She came into my clinic as her GP (General Practitioner) had run out of stock of sleeping pills, and won’t be able to restock for the next few months. She is completely reliant on these pills for the past 8 years to help her sleep. So, you can imagine the state of anxiety and despair she was in, when she heard that her GP will not be able to supply her with sleeping pills for the next few months!”

“Before I prescribed her any sleeping pills, I needed to find out if her sleep issue is secondary to a medical or psychological issue. I assigned an assessment for Mrs. P to take, which revealed that she has been suffering from generalized anxiety disorder for years and was not receiving any treatment for it.”

Mrs. P only sought help for her problems with sleep, which was a symptom of her anxiety disorder. “In some cases, short term uses of sedatives are useful, but dependence to it can be a problem in itself – and hence must be used cautiously.” Dr. Gurdeep then started Mrs. P on a definitive treatment to address the anxiety disorder.


reviewing your diagnostics

According to Dr. Gurdeep, psychosocial stressors that are behind a psychological problem are difficult to manage, as it is sometimes not within an individual’s control. “Treatment for anxiety disorder adopts a multi-disciplinary approach, just like treating any other psychological ailment. We look at a holistic treatment based on the bio-psycho-social model, and it’s personalized according to the client and the severity of the issue. Some forms of treatment are counseling, cognitive and behavior therapy, or medication, in some cases,”

After undergoing the treatment with Dr. Gurdeep, there was marked improvement in the sleep that Mrs. P was getting. Dr. Gurdeep shares: “Over the next few months, she was weaned off her reliance on the sleeping pills and only occasionally takes one. Her overall quality of life has much improved, too,”


How does Dr. Gurdeep differentiate between a patient who genuinely has an underlying issue versus someone who just hasn’t got enough sleep? “We take a look at their detailed medical and psychiatric history. These will be sufficient to tell whether the patient has an underlying health condition or not. In certain cases, I will consult a physician or an ENT surgeon, and we may run some tests or a sleep study, when the case calls for it.”


For better sleep and rest at night, Dr. Gurdeep also educates his clients on ways to improve their sleep hygiene. Here are some ways you can have better sleep at night:

  • Avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime
  • Ensure that your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool
  • Keep to a consistent sleep schedule and time daily


The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss, which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.