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Why am I so tired after a tattoo?

It’s common to feel fatigued or tired after getting a new tattoo. The adrenaline rush of getting a tattoo can leave you feeling drained once it wears off. Your body also goes through physical stress and trauma during the tattoo process as a needle repeatedly punctures your skin. This can zap your energy. There are several reasons why you may feel excessively tired and fatigued after getting inked.

The adrenaline crash

Getting a tattoo is an exciting experience that also involves some pain. Your body releases adrenaline and endorphins to help you get through the tattoo session. Adrenaline gives you a burst of energy and a feeling of invincibility. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers that block pain signals.

Once the tattoo session ends, those adrenaline and endorphin levels quickly drop. This leaves you feeling tired, sluggish, and mentally drained. It’s often called the “adrenaline crash” after the rush of getting a tattoo. The larger the tattoo and longer the session, the bigger the adrenaline surge and subsequent crash.

Physical stress of getting a tattoo

The tattoo process involves having a needle repeatedly puncture your skin hundreds to thousands of times per minute. This can take a physical toll on your body. Your skin becomes irritated and inflamed. Your immune system kicks into overdrive trying to heal the damaged skin. This increases inflammation.

Getting a tattoo is essentially getting “wounded” as your skin experiences minor trauma. Like any injury, this taxes your body and uses up mental energy needed to heal. This can leave you feeling physically drained.

Pain and discomfort

For most people, getting tattooed is painful especially over bony areas. Your body tenses up to handle the constant needle pricks. This leads to muscle tension, soreness, and discomfort even after the tattoo session ends. Dealing with pain is exhausting both physically and mentally.

The pain itself combined with the effort needed to hold still can zap someone’s energy. Discomfort during healing in the days after a tattoo can also disrupt sleep and cause fatigue.

Blood loss

While not excessive, you do lose some blood and plasma during the tattoo process. Your skin bleeds lightly from being punctured so often. Plasma, which is 90% water, also leaks out.

Mild blood/plasma loss probably won’t cause severe issues. But it can contribute to increased fatigue, especially after a long session or for a large heavily shaded tattoo. Drink plenty of fluids after getting inked to replenish fluids.

Ink chemicals entering bloodstream

Tattoo needles puncture deep enough to go into the dermis layer of skin that contains blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. This means tattoo ink pigments and chemicals enter your vascular system. Your body immediately works to filter out and excrete the foreign substances from your blood.

The immune system ramps up to break down ink pigments over time. This metabolic process takes significant energy that can result in feeling drained. Certain people may be sensitive to ingredients in tattoo inks and experience more inflammation and fatigue.

Psychological stress

For some, getting a permanent tattoo is a nerve-racking experience even if you’re excited. Anxiety about the pain, sitting still, and having a needle repeatedly piercing your skin can be mentally taxing. Stress hormones like cortisol release, which can sap energy.

The adrenaline crash after the tattoo session finishes can also cause mood swings and low energy. There’s also the stress of aftercare if it’s your first tattoo. The mental exertion to stay calm can be tiring.

Healing process requires energy

After getting inked, your body immediately starts working to heal the damaged skin. Inflammation increases blood flow to the area to clean out damaged cells and ink. New skin cells regenerate and fibroblasts work to create scar tissue.

This healing process continues for several weeks after a tattoo until it fully stabilizes. All of that requires significant metabolic activity and energy expenditure. Healing a tattoo is similar to recovering from a major surgery. So your body’s directing energy towards healing, which may leave you feeling depleted.

Sleep disruption

It’s important to get adequate sleep before and after getting a new tattoo. However, getting a large, complex multi-hour tattoo can throw off your sleep. Adrenaline and endorphins post-tattoo may make it harder to fall asleep. Any discomfort or pain during healing can also disrupt sleep.

Poor sleep inevitably leads to increased fatigue, irritability, and lack of energy. Aim to keep sleep consistent before and after getting inked. Take naps during the day if needed while healing.


Fluid loss from minor bleeding during tattooing combined with ink pigments circulating through your blood can cause dehydration. Many artists recommend drinking extra water before and after a session. Dehydration exacerbates fatigue as less fluid reaches muscles and organs.

Be diligent about drinking enough fluids like water, juice, sports drinks, or coconut water after getting inked. Dehydration also leads to complications during healing.

Low blood sugar

Sitting for an extended tattoo session can lead to drops in blood sugar from not eating. Low blood sugar can trigger lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, and shakiness. This is especially true if getting a large piece requiring several hours of work.

Be sure to eat a filling meal before your appointment and snack during longer sessions. Bring sugary snacks and drinks to keep blood sugar stable. This will prevent you from feeling famished and fatigued afterwards.

Possible tattoo complications

In some cases, complications during healing can arise after getting inked. This includes infections, allergic reactions to ink, scabbing issues, and excessive swelling or inflammation. Your body has to work harder to resolve these problems, which drains energy levels.

Complications are generally rare in the hands of an experienced artist. But if you notice spreading redness, swelling, oozing, or allergic symptoms, see your doctor or tattoo artist immediately. Treating it quickly reduces the energy needed for healing.

Tips to avoid excessive fatigue

Here are some tips to help avoid severe tiredness and fatigue after getting a new tattoo:

Eat a filling nutrient-dense meal beforehand

Carb load with whole grains, proteins, healthy fats hours before your appointment to maintain energy.

Stay hydrated before and after

Drink extra water, juice, or sports drinks to prevent fluid loss and dehydration.

Bring snacks for long sessions

Pack high protein bars, fruit, nuts, crackers in case you need an energy boost.

Limit caffeine and alcohol

They can dehydrate you and disrupt sleep making fatigue worse.

Take breaks during long sessions

Even a 10 minute breather can recharge you between hours of work.

Schedule adequate rest after

Don’t plan activities right after and take it easy while healing.

Listen to your body

If overly tired, rest and avoid strenuous exercise temporarily.

Supplement with vitamins

B-complex, vitamin C, zinc, iron can help avoid deficiencies from healing.

When to see your doctor

In most cases, tattoo fatigue subsides within a week as you recover. But see your doctor if:

– Fatigue lasts longer than 2 weeks after getting inked
– You have symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, or dizziness
– Fatigue is accompanied by blurred vision, chest pain, shortness of breath
– You have complications like infection, swelling, or allergic reaction

This could indicate an underlying issue requiring medical treatment beyond typical healing. Most side effects resolve on their own. But it’s always a good idea to touch base with your artist or doctor with any concerns during recovery.


It’s very common to feel tired and fatigued after getting a new tattoo. Your body experiences physical trauma, adrenaline shifts, inflammation, discomfort, and extra demands on your energy reserves. Allow yourself adequate rest, hydration, and nutrition while healing. Avoid overexerting yourself physically so your body can direct energy to recovery.

With proper aftercare, the worst fatigue is temporary lasting just a few days. Take steps to avoid potential complications that can prolong exhaustion. If symptoms last longer than expected or seem severe, see your medical provider. Be patient with your body while it heals your new artwork.