The Betterment Project

Why Do I Always Look Tired: 6 Possible Culprits

You’re beautiful. You really are beautiful. When you look in the mirror, though, it can be hard to feel beautiful when you look tired. When the face looking back at you looks tired, it can make you feel tired too. 

It’s one thing to feel tired, but it’s disheartening when you look tired. You may find yourself wondering what’s making you look tired, especially when you can’t remember the last time you didn’t look tired.

When you see someone else who looks well-rested and healthy, you may wonder what’s their secret. When you understand why you might look tired all the time, you can work to capture that well-rested look for yourself.

There are plenty of reasons why you may look tired, including being tired.  Let’s explore the possible culprits that may be behind that tired look on your face.

What Is Making Me Look Tired? 

We would all love to wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep and look refreshed, but the reality is sometimes we wake up tired. And, unfortunately, we also can wake up looking as tired as we felt before we went to sleep. You know the look. Your skin is dull. Your eyes are bloodshot, and they just don’t have that spark that signals to the world, ‘I’m wide awake!’ Your eyes may even sag, and the dark circles under them are a telltale sign that you could use some rest and relaxation. 

The culprit for what has you looking a little worse for wear may vary, so let’s dive into the possible culprits for what is making you always look tired.

1 - Caffeine

Say it ain’t so, Cup of Joe. You wake up every morning and greet each day with your vital cup of coffee in hand. You might wonder how you would function without it. Unfortunately, your java jolt may be part of the problem. 

Caffeine is great for a boost of energy, but relying on caffeine too much may prevent you from getting the adequate rest that your mind and body need. It’s also important to remember that caffeine is not a substitute for food. You still need the energy and nutrients found in a proper diet.

You don’t have to say goodbye to your morning coffee, but you should keep track of how much caffeine you’re consuming and whether or not it’s impacting your sleeping and eating habits. Your skin will thank you, and your kidneys will too. Caffeine is a diuretic, and while we tend to consume more fluid than it causes us to expel, it will send you to the restroom fairly frequently.

2 - Sleep

It’s not a novel concept that you may look tired because you actually are tired, but a third of American adults are sleep deprived, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That’s a lot of tired adults. 

You may go to bed with plenty of time to rest, but the quality of your sleep may not be restful and restorative. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may be getting less sleep than you realize. 

You may need to check your sleep routine. Be sure you’re allowing yourself to get full eight hours of sleep most nights, and remember to keep a check on your sleep space. Here are a few tips for your space to give yourself the best chance at a good night’s rest:

  • Keep it cool
  • Keep it quiet
  • Keep it dark
  • Keep it comfortable

If you know you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may want to consider adding a nighttime supplement like Complete Calm Sleep Gummies. With natural ingredients like chamomile, passionflower, holy basil, lemon balm, and lion’s mane extract, these little gummies can help you fall asleep shortly after taking them and wake up feeling refreshed. 

Even over-the-counter sleep aids can leave you feeling groggy the following day; these natural sleep supplements can help you skip the groggy feeling in the morning and help soothe away tensions at night.

3 - Dehydration 

Isn’t it strange how you can manage to drink four cups of coffee in a day when you can’t seem to get past that second glass of water? Many of us strive to drink enough water, but for some reason, we just don’t drink enough to hit our goals. 

The body depends on water to thrive and survive. Dehydration can take a literally ugly toll on our bodies. Here are some of the indicators that you’re not getting enough water:

  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • Dry skin
  • Decreased energy
  • Tired-looking eyes
  • Muscle cramps
  • Brain fog
  • Weight gain

When you lack enough water, even eight hours of restful sleep might not be enough to shake the tired look on your face. Try to incorporate water throughout your daily routine to help you reach eight glasses of water each day to give your body the hydration it needs and return your skin and your overall look back to the healthy glow you’re used to seeing in the mirror.

4 - Stress 

Stress is a normal part of life. It’s a key component to our survival as a species, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re having a stress response from your everyday life and the responsibilities that go with it. 

Stress can cause you to look and feel tired. When your body responds to stress, it releases stress hormones like cortisol from your adrenal gland. Cortisol can increase oil production in the glands of your skin. This can lead to acne breakouts, clogged pores, and other negative effects on your skin health.

Stress can also contribute to trouble sleeping. Even if you are asleep, stress can keep it from being a restful sleep. You can easily wear the stress you’re experiencing on your face, and the face in the mirror may be crying out for you to manage your stress.

Some helpful tips to try if you think stress is contributing to making you look tired:


  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make time for fun
  • Journal
  • Yoga
  • Practice meditation
  • Take a bath
  • Say “no” more often

Managing your stress is important to help you look better, but it’s also vital to help you have overall improved health.

5 - Allergies 

When your allergies act up, the body releases histamine. Histamine is a chemical that can dilate blood vessels. It also causes itchiness. The reaction to the histamine can cause irritation and swelling.

If you’ve ever experienced allergies, you may know that they can cause itchiness, watery eyes, and redness in your eyes. After rubbing and scratching, your eyes can often appear tired and puffy with dark circles under them. 

This unfortunate effect can make you look tired. You can typically address allergies with a simple over-the-counter antihistamine, and you can reduce the puffiness around your eyes with a cold compress. 

6 - Blue Light Blues 

Many of us stare at a screen for a large portion of the day. Whether it’s for work, home, or fun, it’s not uncommon for a screen to be involved. It’s not surprising to learn that we might be straining our eyes. 

Those tired eyes may be causing your whole face to look tired. Try giving your eyes a break to rest periodically. A good rule to remember is to break from your activity every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet away and let your eyes rest on it for 20 seconds. This break in activity can help reduce the strain you’re putting on your eyes.

You may also want to monitor the time you spend in front of a screen and reduce it where you can. The blue light that enters our eyes from our computer screens makes it hard for our brains to recognize when it’s time to fall asleep.

So, you may be disrupting your sleep and straining your eyes which is a double hit to your face in the morning.


When you pull an all-nighter or have been struggling to sleep, you expect to look tired, but sometimes when you look in the mirror and see your tired face, you may wonder what’s causing it. Are you drinking too much caffeine? Are you tired and don’t realize it? Are you dehydrated or stressed? Maybe it’s your allergies. 

There are plenty of explanations for why you seem to always look tired. Thankfully, there’s usually something we can do to improve the situation through a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Remember to eat healthy, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, take a daily supplement, get enough rest, and manage your stress levels.

With the right approach, you’ll look like your rested and refreshed self again in no time.


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Caffeine | 

Caffeine: Is it dehydrating or not? | 

1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep | CDC Online Newsroom

Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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