If you’re a college student, you’ll probably resonate with the feeling of exhaustion at one point or another in your college career. You’re most like busy juggling a whole host of different things, including classes, extracurricular activities, internships, work, volunteering, and if you’re lucky, a social life too. There’s so much that’s new and exciting when you’re at college, and it can be easy to forget to slow down and rest when you’re trying to take in all the life has to offer.

Alas, negating your wellbeing by failing to take it easy now and then can really take a toll on your health. Not only that, but there’s a whole combination of things that can lead to tiredness when you’re in school, and it might not be what you think. Read on for some clarification and helpful ideas to stop feeling so exhausted.

Why am I tired?

Lack of sleep

It’s as easy as that. Are you staying up late every night? Are you pulling up all-nighters once a week? If you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep every night, chances are that your exhaustion is simply due to a too-late bedtime. The thing is, college students these days—and culture at large for that matter—seem to be dealing with a phenomenon called “sleep procrastination.” In an effort to put off the inevitable (tomorrow), we tend to stay up late doing basically nothing. We’ll scroll through social media, read meaningless articles, mindlessly watch Netflix. We have a lot of addictive things at our fingertips these days, and it takes a lot of willpower and good habit building to get ourselves into bed at a reasonable time these days.

Stress-related hormone imbalances

Are you completely overwhelmed? Do you have way too much on your plate? Constant stress can wreak havoc on a hormone in your body called cortisol. Cortisol increases your blood sugar to give you energy, but if you’re super stressed, you can easily start running on empty. Cortisol can mess with your sleep quality or even your ability to sleep at all, as your body isn’t meant to be on high alert 24/7. Take inventory of what you’re involved with and if there’s anything you can cut from your schedule.

Poor nutrition

Living on a college budget can mean lots of poor food choices—after all, ramen and fast food are a lot less expensive than shopping the perimeter of the grocery store for healthy vegetables, fruits, and protein sources. Your body is very complex and needs the proper amount of vitamins and minerals to run properly. While fast food might be easy and cheap, it’s worth doing a little extra shopping around to find good prices for healthier options. Your body will thank you for it!

What to do? 

There are a variety of other factors that could be affecting your sleep: depression, anxiety, anemia and iron deficiency, and thyroid problems have all be known to contribute to fatigue. So what to do? How do you defeat the exhaustion beast?

Developing healthy habits takes time, so if you’ve pinpointed your tiredness as a result of staying up to late, your next best step is to start going to bed earlier and logging more hours with your head on your pillow, earplugs in, and your phone across the room. If you’re really serious about making a change, get some accountability, and have a friend text you to remind you about your new bedtime. Try some before-bed rituals, like a warm shower or bath, reading a book, lighting a candle, and turning off all technology at least thirty minutes before your official lights-out time.

If changing the amount of sleep your getting doesn’t seem to be helping, it might be time to make a visit to the doctor’s office. At the very least, a simple blood test can let you know if you’re dealing with an iron deficiency or some other issue. While many people shy away from visiting the doctor, it’s important to take charge of your health and take the steps you need to take in order to ensure that you’re not further damaging your system. You owe it to yourself and your life quality to pursue some solutions, and your doctor might be able to point you in the right direction!