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Why Do I Look So Tired?

author image Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor has been writing professionally since 2007. She has contributed a number of articles online on topics ranging from fashion to technology to travel. She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of South Florida.
Why Do I Look So Tired?
Anemia can make you look tired. Photo Credit dark-haired lady image by GeoM from Fotolia.com

A number of factors can cause you to look tired, from a lack of iron to common allergies. The natural process of aging also causes skin to sag and droop, especially around the eye area. The solution to your dilemma may be as simple as an antihistamine or a little more red meat in your diet, though you'll have to consult a doctor to discover the reason behind your tired appearance.

Common Causes

Commonly, "a combination of heredity and genetics" causes tired-looking eyes, dark circles or bags under the eyes, states Diane Berson, assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell University's Weill Medical College in Manhattan, NY. Dark eye circles are often the result of excess pigmentation in the skin, which affects all races, especially African-Americans, Southern Italians and Southeast Asians. Sun exposure, fatigue and binge drinking can also exacerbate dark eye circles.

Allergies may also cause you to look tired. Airborne allergens lead to puffy eyes and also cause blood to pool under the skin, creating dark eye circles, according to professor and chief of plastic surgery at Yale University's School of Medicine Dr. John A. Persing. Certain blood pressure medications as well as birth control pills can also dilate blood vessels and cause tired-looking eyes.

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Sleep Disorders

Looking well rested has to do with not just the amount of sleep you get, but the amount of quality sleep you get, says Help Guide. If you have insomnia, you obviously look tired due to sleep deprivation, though other chronic sleep disorders may also interrupt your sleep cycle and cause you to wake frequently throughout the night. Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing in their sleep, and these gaps in breathing can occur as often as 30 or more times an hour. These episodes cause a person to wake briefly, often choking or gasping. Narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder may also cause a lack of quality sleep.


Iron deficiency anemia frequently causes dark rings around the eyes, which can make you look tired, says nutritionist Jane Clarke in Daily Mail. Iron assists in the manufacture of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your body's cells. Iron deficiency anemia means that your body tissues aren't getting enough oxygen. In addition to looking tired, other signs of iron deficiency anemia include pale skin, headaches, shortness of breath, poor memory, dizziness and frequent colds and infections.


If you look tired, this could signal that your body is trying to tell you something. According to Columbia University Health Services, thyroid and kidney problems can cause a tired appearance due to fluid retention or lymph malabsorption. Sleep apnea can also become life threatening if left untreated. Don't ignore your body's symptoms and signals.


See a doctor to ensure that your tired appearance doesn't signal a larger problem. A doctor can perform a few simple blood tests to rule out anemia, thyroid problems and other issues. Your doctor can also check you for allergies and evaluate your sleeping habits.

If genetics or simple aging has led to your tired appearance, look to skin creams, concealers and make-up, or consult a licensed and qualified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon for more permanent solutions.

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