It’s a common experience for many students to feel drained and wiped out after a long day of classes. While some degree of fatigue after school is normal, excessive tiredness day after day may indicate some underlying issues. Understanding the various reasons why you may feel abnormally exhausted after school can provide insight into how to get your energy back.
This article explores the common reasons students often feel depleted after a day of academics. It examines the potential effects constant fatigue can have on health, academics, and activities. Finally, it offers helpful tips and solutions to fight post-school tiredness so you can better enjoy your evenings and weekends.
Is Feeling Very Tired After School Normal?
It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit mentally drained or ready for a nap after a full day of engaged learning in the classroom. In fact, research shows our brains naturally experience fatigue as the day goes on from exerting sustained focus, concentration, and cognitive function.
However, regularly feeling:
- Completely wiped out every single day after your last class
- Extremely sleepy and unable to focus on homework
- Physically exhausted, not just mentally tired
Could signal some underlying issues leading to excessive tiredness for students. While occasional fatigue after school is expected, persistent exhaustion is not normal.
6 Top Causes of Feeling Tired After School
There are several key factors that can leave you feeling drained once the final bell rings:
1. Inadequate Sleep
Not getting sufficient sleep is one of the biggest culprits behind after-school fatigue. Teens need 8-10 hours of quality sleep per night. However, studies demonstrate that a majority of high school students regularly fall short of this recommendation:
|Recommended Sleep Duration for Teens||% of Teens Who Get Insufficient Sleep|
Pulling frequent all-nighters to cram for exams, staying up late scrolling social media, and waking early for class means many students accumulate a chronic sleep deficit. Operating with inadequate sleep day after day takes a toll on your energy levels, mood, focus, and academic performance.
2. Heavy Academic Workload
The intense workload and challenging curriculum of high school demands a great deal mentally and physically from students. Hours of homework each evening paired with tests, projects, extracurriculars, and college prep can feel overwhelming. Expending so much sustained mental energy leaves you tapped out.
Juggling academic responsibilities on top of part-time jobs, family expectations, and social lives strains time management skills for many students. Taking on a workload beyond your limits strains your energy reserves.
3. Poor Nutrition
The typical teenage diet often lacks nutrition that supports lasting energy. Many students subsist on convenient fast food, sugary snacks and beverages, caffeine, and minimal fruits and vegetables. This rollercoaster of quick energy followed by crashes leaves you running on fumes.
Skipping breakfast is also more common among teens who cite lack of time in the morning. Breakfast deficiency makes focusing through long classes much more of a struggle.
Making nutrition more of a priority is key to avoiding that after-school energy void.
4. Physical Inactivity
Insufficient physical activity is a huge contributor to low energy. Yet studies reveal only 20% of teens meet recommendations for daily exercise. Between sitting through hours of classes, mounds of homework, and extra screen time, teens are largely sedentary. Low activity saps the body of momentum.
Building in more movement during the school day through PE electives, activity breaks, intramural sports, and walking or biking to school helps counteract fatigue.
5. Extracurricular Overload
Being highly involved in various extracurriculars imparts valuable experiences but also demands extensive time and mental energy. The added schedule strain can stretch students too thin, especially when extracurriculars cut into much needed after-school recharge time.
Learning to balance academics, activities, socializing, and self-care is imperative but difficult for overextended students. Choosing involvement wisely helps manage fatigue.
6. Stress and Anxiety
Teens report dramatically high rates of school-related stress and anxiety compared to prior generations. Stress is a huge energy zapper. Anxiety often co-occurs with fatigue.
Juggling academic pressure, social drama, family issues, life transitions, and a 24/7 news cycle weighs heavily on teenage mental health. High stress makes the school day feel infinitely more tiring.
Prioritizing mental health practices like mindfulness, therapy, social connection, and self-care routine helps buffer stress’s depleting effects.
Effects of Feeling Too Tired After School
Being exhausted after school can negatively impact students:
- Weakened immune system from lack of sleep makes you prone to sickness
- Lack of exercise from low motivation and energy
- Weight gain from inactivity and poor diet
- Concentration struggles affect classwork comprehension
- Memory issues make recalling lessons difficult
- Mood changes such as irritability and lack of motivation
- Poorer performance on assignments, tests and projects
- Increased errors from difficulties focusing
- Falling asleep in class
- Loss of interest in hobbies and extracurriculars
- Skipping sports practices or clubs due to low energy
- Avoiding social events and gatherings with friends
Solutions for Combating After-School Fatigue
Here are some of the most effective strategies to try implementing if you feel depleted after school:
Maintain Consistent Sleep Routines
- Aim for 8-10 hours nightly to meet recommended sleep needs for teens.
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. Your body craves consistency.
- Limit screen time and social media use at night. Light from electronics delays melatonin release and disrupts sleep cycles.
- Establish a relaxing pre-bed routine like reading fiction, listening to calm music, meditating, or taking a warm shower.
- Upgrade your sleep space to promote better sleep. Evaluate your mattress, pillow, temperature, lighting and noise.
- Set alarms reminding you to go to bed rather than staying up too late absorbed in tasks or screens.
Upgrade Your Diet
- Eat regular well-balanced meals and snacks, focusing on whole foods like produce, nuts, yogurt, eggs, meat and fish. Avoid empty junk food.
- Hydrate regularly by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration exacerbates fatigue.
- Don’t skip breakfast! Starting your day with a balanced meal provides energy to learn and focus all morning.
- Stock up on portable protein-rich snacks to eat between classes, like nuts, hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, protein bars or shakes. Pair with fruit or veggies.
- Limit added sugar and sweetened beverages. Stick to one small serving of soda or sports drinks a day at most to avoid blood sugar surges and crashes.
Take Regular Activity Breaks
- Schedule exercise into each day, even just 20-30 minutes of walking, jogging, biking, dance, sports, etc.
- Walk or bike to school when possible for a morning energy boost.
- Take five minute movement breaks during lengthy classes. Do some seated stretches, knee raises, or jog in place in the back of the room. Just moving your body helps.
- Stand up between classes and walk around instead of sitting the whole break. Changing positions ignites energy.
Practice Stress Management Skills
- Learn mindfulness techniques like belly breathing, guided imagery, and grounding strategies. Use these to reset when stressed. Apps like Calm can teach mindfulness.
- Identify and reframe negative thoughts that magnify stress. Challenge distorted thinking patterns through journaling, meditation and self-talk.
- Share feelings and connect with empathetic friends and mentors. Social support relieves stress.
- Take mini self-care breaks during the school day, even just listing things you’re grateful for or writing positive affirmations.
- Get adequate sleep to reinforce the brain’s resiliency against stress.
Set Reasonable Limits Around Extracurriculars
- Assess which activities energize you and which drain you. Consider cutting back on those that are depleting.
- Set boundaries and turn down non-essential obligations. Don’t overschedule yourself.
- Alternate lighter and more demanding days so you have some time to recharge.
- Build downtime into each day to relax and do activities you enjoy, not just academics.
Adjusting key lifestyle factors can help boost your energy, mood, focus and manageability of student life. Speak with your school counselor if fatigue persists even after making changes.
When to See a Doctor
Consult your physician if:
- You sleep 8+ hours nightly but still feel exhausted
- Fatigue causes impairment at school
- You fall asleep unintentionally during the day
- You experience sudden fatigue changes for unexplained reasons
- Exhaustion occurs alongside other concerning symptoms like fever, dizziness, appetite changes or fainting
Describe your fatigue levels, sleep habits, academic workload, and any other symptoms. Blood tests can check for potential issues like anemia, thyroid disorders or mono. A sleep study may be recommended if a sleep disorder like apnea is suspected.
Don’t dismiss consistent tiredness as just part of being a student. Addressing the root causes through lifestyle tweaks and medical care when warranted can help every student thrive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it normal to be tired when I get home from school every day?
It is very common to feel a bit mentally drained after school, but not extremely physically tired day after day. If you feel completely depleted both physically and mentally every day after school, it likely signals you need more sleep, less academic and extracurricular commitments, a better diet and improved stress management.
2. How many hours of sleep do teenagers need?
Teenagers typically need 8-10 hours of sleep per night for optimal health, academic success and daytime energy levels. Getting adequate quality sleep is key to avoiding persistent fatigue, concentration struggles and mood issues after school. Prioritize your bedtime over devices, homework, and TV.
3. What should I eat for more energy after school?
Eat a nutritious after-school snack like yogurt with fruit, apple with peanut butter, carrots and hummus, cottage cheese and berries, or whole grain toast with avocado. Protein, complex carbs, and fiber provide sustained energy and avoid a blood sugar crash. Stay hydrated with water or herbal tea as well.
4. How can I get more sleep when I have so much homework?
Try to avoid homework and extracurricular activities within 1-2 hours of your desired bedtime. Limit screen time in the evenings and turn off devices at least one hour before bed. Let teachers know if workload is excessive and discuss ways to lessen assignments. Get organized and use weekends wisely to get ahead on projects.
5. Why do I feel more tired on some school days than others?
You may feel extra tired after busy school days with big exams, sports matches, lots of homework due, projects presentations, quizzes, or special events at school You may also be more fatigued when stressed, anxious, or have not gotten your full sleep on certain nights. Try to balance commitments, limit stress, and get regular sleep.
Feeling wiped out after a full school day is very common for many students, but ongoing exhaustion is a clear sign something needs adjustment. Prioritizing sufficient sleep, healthy nutrition, reasonable academic and extracurricular loads, exercise, and stress management promotes energy to learn, socialize and engage in activities after class. Pay attention to fatigue warning signs and take steps to boost your rest, well-being and performance!