PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – How often do you feel sleepy or fatigued in the middle of the day?

With our busy schedules and lifestyles, it’s more common than not.

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So, which is it – sleepy or fatigued?

There is a difference and before the problem can be fixed, the cause needs to be determined and that starts with a simple question.

“Are you tired-tired or sleepy-tired?” Asks Dr. Amit Chopra, a psychiatrist and sleep specialist at Allegheny Health Network.

He says sleepy-tired is falling asleep at the drop of a hat with no provocation, while tired-tired…

“Tired as you’re wide awake but you have little known energy to move around,” he explains.

Either of those could be a red flag for something more serious going on.

“Common medical reasons could be a lung problem or a heart problem,” he says.

It could also be medications you are taking, or sleep apnea, or even your dreams.

“People act out on their dreams or do complex behaviors, or they have life-kicking going on throughout the night, which can lead to them being very tired in the day,” says Dr. Chopra.

There’s also the possibility your mind is unable to calm the daytime stresses.

Dr. Chopra says the key is identifying the causes, and there could be multiple, and addressing them.

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So, how can you deal with those issues?

One suggestion you may not expect – don’t lay down on your bed.

That’s one of Dr. Chopra’s suggestions.

“You start to, you know, associate the bed with not being able to sleep, it’s a resting place and the same thing happens at nighttime,” he says.

So, when you do go to bed, your brain thinks it’s not in a sleeping place.

“I think the better thing to do is sit on the couch and stay upright,” he explains.

He also suggests not laying down at night until you know you are ready to sleep.

“So many commitments in life, we are busy, busy, busy, and then we jump right into bed and we expect our mind to calm down in 10 minutes, and we sleep,” he says. “For some people, it might happen, for most, it will not.”

He also recommends avoiding chores or exercising before bed.

“The idea is not to do that, I think the mind gets activated,” Dr. Chopra explains. “If you do those things, and again, it gives you the feel of the day. You want to give it the feel of the night. You want to do more relaxing, more boring [things], like reading a boring book. Doing some deep breathing exercises, listen to some light music, doing some stress coloring – anything that calms the mind.”

Dr. Chopra also recommends setting an alarm and get up at the same time every day, don’t try to sleep in, and “make up” for being fatigued.

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Basically, the idea is to “bore” yourself to sleep.